We hear about all types of intelligence these days; we know about everything from traditional IQ to emotional intelligence, to everything in between. There’s even buzz about sports IQ, media intelligence, and social IQ. However, the most important one you should be adding to your list is business intelligence (BI). BI is a powerful approach to how you use data that helps you make smarter business decisions, save money, cut costs, and spot and reduce inefficiencies.
So, what exactly is business intelligence? BI is a catch-all term for all the tools and processes that are used to access and analyze data in order to gain business insight. For example, the creation of visualizations and reports that support businesses operations. Traditionally, BI tools were focused on helping business users to answer “what happened?” and “why did something happen?”, but these days, BI goes beyond basic analytics by helping to create a better and more thorough understanding of what is happening now, along with who and what is involved and even what may happen going forward. No doubt, descriptive analytics are valuable, but it’s time to look beyond the basics and give a modern BI tool a try. Here are a few reasons why:
A Better Big Picture
With the ability to provide historical and current views of everything happening in your business, BI allows you to access a real-time look at your company’s data. Instead of waiting for something to happen, then scrambling to find a way to fix and prevent it, BI tools use computing power to allow you to access and analyze all of your data on the fly.
Real-time analytics allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of your organization by helping identify patterns using relevant and current data.
And, since you’ll be collecting and interpreting data in real-time, it’s easier than ever to share these findings with your employees quickly and efficiently. They’ll get a complete picture too, since you can securely pull from all your data and create visualizations to help make sense of it all.
We all know that in the modern business landscape, data-driven decision making is not optional. It’s a must for doing business, and is an imperative part of making sure your customers are happy and your employees are maximizing their productivity. Though BI tools are handy for analyzing both historical and current data, they’re also useful for capturing evolving trends and seasonality of data to predict future values. Forecasting is crucial for smarter decision-making, and a good BI tool can help with just that. Properly analyzed and visualized data leads to more easily interpreted insights. The insights you gain can help you remove the guesswork and focus on what really matters.
BI tools can also increase efficiency, making sure every resource – human and otherwise – is being maximized. The right BI platform helps guide your company’s investments of time and talent on its activities, products, or services that have the most impact on company performance. Deep data analysis also leads to opportunities for better monitoring and evaluation. The key takeaway? Business Intelligence empowers you to make the best decisions about your customers, employees, and overall business going forward.
Do It Yourself
As we have already established, data is important, but it can also be confusing. While there are lots of options for outsourcing your data analysis, having to wait for someone else to make sense of your numbers defeats the purpose. One key aspect of today’s powerful BI platforms is their ability to provide real-time insights to users without them requiring a degree in computer science or engineering. BI tools allow you to embrace a more DIY/self-service approach to analyzing, visualizing, and projecting future performances with your data, and still get results you can utilize.
Most BI tools contain built-in interactivity and data exploration tools that guide you in analyzing your own data, and the best empower you by auto-adapting the user experience to the user’s skills, all without needing to wait for someone else to do it for you. This helps you use your own data most effectively and make sense of it when it matters most. In addition, BI tools are typically built with deep integrability with other key existing applications and company systems like your CRM, logistics, project management systems, HR platforms and more. They can even be embedded and integrated into existing websites, adding powerful interactive dashboards and reports to your internal or public websites. This means that the rich data sets you’ve been accumulating there will no longer be siloed or difficult to extract when past analysis and forward thinking are needed.
A Better Bottom Line
When it comes down to it, the most valuable aspect of a good BI tool is that it can help you improve your bottom line. Whether you’re looking to improve that through costs savings or investment, BI can help you do it. The right BI tool helps you visualize your current data, AND identify long-term and emerging patterns.
For example, keeping a closer eye on expenditures of time and money on leads and prospects – with BI-powered dashboards to monitor what is working and what is not – can provide a better data picture to help you identify where your expenditures are not contributing. The right BI tool can also make you more competitive by creating a better understanding of what customers are responding to, and how best to reach them.
The idea of adding a new technology to your company’s stack may feel overwhelming. But business intelligence isn’t the next new thing. Modern BI is the “New Normal”. Going beyond basic reporting, BI gives you the power to use your own data to your advantage. With a better big picture, the ability to make smart business decisions through a do-it-yourself approach, and the opportunity to better your bottom line, the right BI tool needs to be on your “must” list for 2019.
About the Author
Laura Hudgens is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a communications instructor and freelance writer who studies and writes about technology, media, science, and health.More Content by Laura Hudgens