How Business Intelligence Is Used
In recent years, organizations have increasingly turned to advanced software solutions to manage workloads, maintain profitability and ensure competitiveness within their respective industries. While there are several options available, business intelligence tools (BI) and business analytics tools (BA) are arguably the most widely implemented data management solutions. Business analysts and software buyers alike often ask what are the key differences between business intelligence vs business analytics.
Business intelligence systems are used to maintain, optimize and streamline current operations. BI utilizes technologies, applications and practices for the collection, integration, analysis and presentation of business information. The purpose of business intelligence is to support data-driven business decision making.
A well balanced BI strategy will include data generation, data management / storage, business intelligence software and data analytics software. These components improve operational efficiency and helps companies increase organizational productivity when implemented together in a well planned strategy.
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Business intelligence software benefits and functionality constantly collect and analyze data in order to deliver actionable insights for your business. Professionals can generate reports on a variety of data sets like expenses, operations processes, staffing and customer service.
There are numerous types of reports you can create using BI tools. All BI platforms will offer pre-formatted reporting capabilities that collect data for common KPIs. Businesses can also generate customized or self-service BI reports, applying BI’s excellent visuals to unique, organization-specific data sets. If neither of these options give you what you need, users can run an ad-hoc report, which is put together entirely by users and usually focuses on a very specific KPI that can’t be targeted by other types of reports.
Another unique benefit of business intelligence reports is the relevance of information. Because reports contain relevant data collected within your business operations, businesses are better able to act based on the information contained in BI reports. Plus, you don’t have to be a data scientist to use BI tools — the data visualizations generated by these tools are easy to understand and explain. In SelectHub’s recent survey of organizations in the market for BI software, 48 percent of buyers listed reporting as a desired feature.
Fast thinking and effective decision-making is important in achieving success in a business endeavor. Often, those in charge of running a business don’t have the time to conduct a large-scale research project and a particular industry development or product release. Using business intelligence software is like constantly having an in-depth research project in progress that’s compiling information for groundbreaking decision-making.
Benchmarking is a valuable data analysis tool businesses use to gauge their productivity, revenue and overall success relative to that of their competitors. Organizations often struggle with benchmarking, but BI simplifies the process, providing actionable information and reports that are easily understood. That’s why benchmarking is one of the core BI requirements users look for in a BI platform.
Benchmarking reports offer accurate, timely data that allow businesses to evaluate their performance against individual KPIs or trends over time, providing valuable insight into the organization’s current state. With predictive analytics capabilities, users can take these benchmarks and implement them proactively, getting ahead of their competitors instead of chasing behind them.
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BI analytics tools are exceptionally well-suited for powerful data mining. Data mining is the process of seeking patterns in data in order to identify trends and draw insights. It can be broken into five steps: collection, warehousing and storage, organization, analysis, and presentation. Some BI platforms can perform all of these steps for an organization, although others require support from business analytics tools, Big Data analytics systems or data warehousing platforms.
BI analyzes, processes and renders vast amounts of data that cannot be managed with weaker programs. It integrates with data warehousing solutions, in-house databases (e.g. SQL servers), as well as both structured and unstructured data. This allows easy access to valuable information and enhanced decision-making processes that businesses might otherwise miss.
Because BI software is able to instantaneously analyze incoming data, it helps companies catch fleeting opportunities that they might otherwise miss. With the customized reports produced by BI connected to a data warehouse, companies can more easily pick up on trends in company spending, staffing, operations, client development and more.
BI also helps track, manage and implement performance goals. With BI tools, businesses can input data-based goals such as sales goals or target delivery time, then track progress on a daily basis. This tracking mechanism is known as performance management, and it provides some of the most effective and easily implemented goal management available.
BI applications make information readily accessible that would ordinarily take hours or weeks to track down and organize. Another business intelligence benefit is that by using dashboards and real-time data, users can easily organize important information and get moment-to-moment updates. This makes for a great deal of time savings and allows you to deal with problems immediately.
With BI’s intuitive visual analytics capabilities, professionals can track goal fulfillment and use that information to gauge overall organizational productivity. When properly implemented, BI tools can boost your performance significantly.
One of the most important BI benefits is that it enhances awareness. Those who design business intelligence software know companies can’t take advantage of opportunities they’re not aware of. They therefore design software to make those fleeting opportunities noticeable and provide the details that allow companies to make the most of them.
The reports and data produced by business intelligence systems are great when you need to back up your claims with hard data when negotiating with potential clients. It can also be helpful to make quick sales decisions with real-time data and mobile BI reports. A business intelligence system might just turn out to be the most powerful tool you have when you’re trying to convince clients, vendors or suppliers of the potentials and capabilities offered by your company’s products and services.
When it comes to sales, this type of software is not only effective at supporting your arguments. It also helps you identify trends in customer preferences so you’ll be the first in your industry to know what to offer customers in order to maximize sales. Plus, nothing tops off a pitch like a beautiful visualization of data — BI has your back.
Streamline and Trim Operations
A lesser-praised advantage of business intelligence software is its ability to cut down waste. Anything that doesn’t add value to your company can be considered waste: this includes operational and administrative work that can be automated with a BI system. BI does the work that data entry employees or data analysts would typically get saddled with like data organization, de-duplication and other repetitive tasks.
This benefits business intelligence: first, employees can devote their time to more intensive tasks, increasing productivity. It can also save time, money and reduce human error. It also allows users to identify how well the organization is doing with the current staff so you can grow or downsize accordingly.
BI systems can identify waste in your overall operations as well. It does this by pinpointing pain points, bottlenecks and inefficiencies in manufacturing, operations and sales. With predictive analysis features, BI will even offer suggestions to alleviate these problem areas.
Without business intelligence software, companies are basically forced to gamble when making many important decisions regarding management, finances, marketing efforts and more. With business intelligence software, the decisions made by company leaders are more data-driven and often result in a competitive advantage for your organization.
BI implements a data structure to encourage data-driven decision-making and helps you know the best plan — not just guess at it. This business resource will not only lead to greater profitability, but it will take a great deal of the stress and uncertainty out of running a business.