Business intelligence (BI) is gaining popularity in many present-day industries. Business intelligence solutions help companies remain competitive, as well as increase their revenue, and streamline their processes. These tools are used to analyze, manage, store and visualize company data.
Companies of different sizes and at different stages of growth utilize these tools. They reap various benefits, among them being fast and accurate reporting, competitive analysis, increased data quality, and the gaining of valuable business insights.
What is Business Intelligence?
Business intelligence is the combination of people and technologies to collect and analyze organizational data. Such data is used in the development of business strategy and daily organizational decision-making. It combines data mining, business analytics, data visualization, tools, and infrastructure to inspire data-driven decision-making.
BI refers to all the BI tools and processes that are used to get insights from raw industry data to be used in decision-making. It is the foundation of all short-term and long-term business strategies in the modern world.
Organizations use the outputs of business intelligence to compete effectively in the market and to optimize their functions. Employees have several BI tools at their disposal for use across several departments.
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How Companies Use Business Intelligence?
Business intelligence is aimed at improving the performance of a business, as well as giving the enterprise a sense of direction. When business intelligence is used to analyze data, certain trends and patterns can be identified and made sense of. Additionally, the organization can identify key performance indicators (KPIs) in major areas of the company.
A good business intelligence tool will help the organization know whether its performance is good or bad, how good or bad it is, why it is good or bad, and what can be done to optimize its operations moving forward.
Here’s how companies optimize their processes using BI:
Efficient Financial Planning and Budgeting
Organizations use business intelligence to implement more progressive methods and tools for use in financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting. The BI tools are used to identify and explore the trends in financial data. This aids financial decision-making and helps the organization to come up with more accurate data-driven budgets.
Proper financial planning and forecasting are important when it comes to resource allocation, which is a very crucial organizational process. If an organization gets the allocation of its scarce resources wrong, there is a likelihood that its return on investment (ROI) would be jeopardized.
Estimation and Tracking of Sales Performance
With the evolution of business intelligence, sales and marketing have never been any easier. Marketing professionals are better placed to use BI tools in tracking customer purchases, identifying the best-selling or least-selling product(s). Organizations are also well equipped to know which marketing channels drive the most conversions.
All this sales and marketing knowledge can be used to enhance the performance of the organization, drive up profits and identify opportunities that can be tapped into in order to inspire organizational growth.
Driving Up Profits
It goes without saying that improving the sales and marketing operations of a company directly increases the expected and actual returns. Business intelligence is used by organizations to create and optimize effective marketing programs and to improve the accuracy of their sales forecasts.
The personnel in the sales and marketing department are able to identify the best prospects and untapped market opportunities.
Business intelligence also allows companies to establish more efficient systems in general, most of which translate to increased returns, which is the main goal of any organization.
Business intelligence allows you to extract vital facts from an ocean of unstructured data and transform this data into understandable and actionable information that can be used by your company to make strategic data-driven decisions.
The resultant information provides insights that reveal the underlying indicators of customer behavior, customer likes and dislikes, etc.
These pieces of information are used by the organization to make decisions on what new products to introduce, what products to produce in smaller or larger amounts, what marketing strategies to use, etc.
Even as a small business owner, you are able to leverage your data analytics effectively. So, it doesn’t matter what stage your business is currently in. You can definitely benefit from business intelligence technology.
Ease of Access to Information
At the traditional workplace, locating and accessing information can be a nightmare! You would have to dig deep into the shelves where company data is stored.
This can take several hours or even days, and guess what, you may still end up not getting the information you are looking for.
In the modern-day fast-paced business environment, you cannot afford to waste such precious time. Your competitors will overtake you in no time.
For you to stay ahead of your competition, you need to make timely decisions, and this can only be informed by data. Companies are using business intelligence to get timely access to the information they want and make sense of the implications of such information.
Business intelligence software provides organizations with this information at a glance. This way, they maintain their competitive edge.
One of the biggest threats to organizations is the breach of their data. Many businesses spend lots of money trying to enhance their data security.
If unauthorized parties can gain access to your company data and alter it, the integrity of the data would be compromised, and it may become irrelevant to your decision-making process.
Business intelligence tools and solutions are equipped with advanced data security tools that can protect the company data from hackers and possible security threats.
In 2018, Facebook, T-Mobile, and MyHeritage experienced data breaches that affected millions of users. To avoid such scenarios, you can use BI tools such as Microsoft’s Azure which has world-class security capabilities that will protect your organization from threats.
Finding New Opportunities
The business landscape is ever-changing. Companies use business intelligence for decision-making in every phase of the company life so that they can adapt quickly to the business environment evolution.
BI tools can help organizations find new customers, define new product lines, and identify new sales and marketing channels.
BI Tools for Company Process Optimization
There are a plethora of business intelligence tools for you to choose from, all of which can help you optimize your business processes. Here are the most outstanding ones.
Tableau is a fast-growing data visualization and business analytics platform that helps people and organizations better see and understand data.
It converts raw data into an understandable format. Organizations of different sizes trust Tableau to assist them develop a more data-driven business strategy, among them Amag Pharmaceuticals, Accenture, A.S. Watson Group, and AeroMexico.
2. Microsoft Power BI
This is a formidable business intelligence platform powered by the tech giant, Microsoft. Power BI provides a dependable business analytics solution for organizations.
It transforms company data into great visuals from which trends can be identified and used to steer the business further. You will literally have your whole company on one dashboard. You can be able to create interactive reports and get consistent analysis across your organization. Adobe and many other companies trust their services.
3. Desktop Qlik Sense
Qlik’s most striking features include the ease to link multiple data sources, the ability to automatically produce AI-generated insight suggestions, the drag-and-drop feature to create fully interactive analytics apps, and automated data refreshes. It is used by companies such as Cisco, Samsung, and KitchenAid.
Other BI Tools
Other BI tools include SAP BusinessObjects and Sisense. Before you pick the right tool for your business, identify your business processes that need to be improved using a BI tool. It is also important to be well conversant with your organizational goals; both the long-term and short-term goals. Once you have established these, pick the BI tool that will meet your needs.
Big Data Analytics and Business Intelligence
On many occasions, businesses run on guesswork. You guess what the best marketing channel would be, how much to price your products, and what the source of problems in your business could be.
This sounds so risky to your business, doesn’t it? Imagine getting a tool that can help you choose only what is best for your business without all that guesswork.
This is where big data analytics comes in.
Big data analytics help you have a look at all the aspects of your business and find the best solution to optimize your processes.
Big data analytics, in simple terms, is the process of taking a look at a large amount of information to identify patterns. Organizations use such insights to optimize their processes and increase their returns.
As opposed to the past when big data analytics was done on spreadsheets, present-day big data analytics is conducted by business intelligence tools that have made the process much easier.
In fact, some of the analysis is slowly being taken over by AI and machine learning programs.
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Is Business Intelligence the Future?
As business needs and the level of technological application keep changing, business intelligence will continually evolve in response to these changes.
Companies are already using BI tools in various ways, among them financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting. Organizations using BI tools are in their glory days since they can efficiently allocate scarce resources and use them to maximize their ROI. They also have easy access to information that they use to make informed decisions.
Business intelligence is part of the future of business operations. As time goes by, AI is growing and will soon be fully integrated into the BI process. Companies continue to be more data-driven. Therefore, the need to collaborate will also definitely increase. Data visualization will be more crucial for working across departments.