In the age of information technology, the ability to use data and information in real time can dictate how organizations successfully work, communicate and collaborate. Today the amount of information being generated every second is massive. No matter your business’ industry or size, everyone has access to quick information. However, the real power behind making rational business decisions does not lie in the petabytes of data and information itself but rather in making sense of the big data. This is where business intelligence tools can give you a competitive advantage.
What is Business Intelligence?
Currently the big buzzword in the business landscape is business intelligence but what exactly does it mean? In short, Business Intelligence (BI) refers to the technology infrastructure, applications, architectures and processes for the collection, integration, analysis, reporting, presentation and delivery of business information for better decision making. The main components of Business Intelligence systems are data-driven Decision Support Systems, Executive Information System, Customer Relationship Management System, Geographic Information System, Management Information System and Online Analytical Processing and Multidimensional Analysis. They are all based on data warehouse technology, where the data is cleaned, integrated and analyzed before being presented in the form of easy to understand information that helps improve business processes.
Importance Of Business Intelligence For Your Organization
Big data consists of a huge haystack of hidden needles of information that you need to make sense of to make smart business decisions, but unfortunately these are not readily apparent. Looking for a needle in a haystack, especially without a plan, can be overwhelming and most of us will never find it. Similarly you may have a huge spreadsheet with tons of transactional data but how do you make sense of all those numbers? Business intelligence software allows you to gain meaningful actionable insights for growing revenue, increasing profitability, and improving operating efficiency of the business. Business intelligence in combination with analytical processing and reporting is changing how organizations function. After all, business decisions based on hard data are entirely more reliable than decisions based on instinct or assumptions. It is the timely, accurate analysis and data-driven conclusions that should provide actionable insight into business processes. Data-driven businesses make decisions five times faster than their competitors and are twice as likely to be in the top quartile of financial performance within their industries.
Categories Of Business Intelligence Analytics Tools
Most business people only have a very broad understanding of the term ‘business intelligence’, which includes a variety of different business intelligence tools to improve the decision making processes and tactical strategic management. There are two broad categories of business analytics tools that support different business intelligence styles and capabilities:
- Guided analytics and reporting: It includes the traditional business intelligence styles that have been used for decades by a few decision-making managers to perform recurring analyses of specific data using predefined data sets and metrics. End users can select, filter, compare, visualize and analyze data for the purpose of guided analysis and reporting. IT is generally responsible for managing the underlying data and business intelligence applications used here.
The common business intelligence tools in this category are reports, executive dashboards, scorecards, integrated spreadsheets, query and reporting tools, corporate performance management and business intelligence search. For example, with a guided analytics package, such as QlikView, you can typically set up prepared business applications featuring dashboards, charts and calculations that can be updated through user clicks and selections. But the business user will not be able to draw their own data visualizations or add their own data sources, without the help of a developer.
- Self-service business intelligence: Self-service is currently the proverbial Holy Grail of business intelligence because users can access any data they want, when they want it, how they want it, without having to rely on other technical resources or IT. (SSBI) solutions are generally flexible and easy-to-use so that end-users can analyze data, make good business decisions, plan and predict on their own. However, there is some IT involvement needed for data access and tool governance based on the security and needs of the business users to avoid losing control over data. Moreover, the data sources need to be consumable by the business tool, which may involve working with IT to get a proper explanation of the data schema needed for analysis.
Business intelligence tools used to perform ad hoc analysis of data belong in this category. The self-service BI tools allow users to add data and define new metrics when performing their analysis, either for a one-time-only analysis or the formulation of a recurring analysis that can be shared or published. The business users of self-service tools are thus both information consumers and analytics producer. This people-centric approach to self-service BI improves the speed and efficiency of daily business operations.
There are other advanced analytics tools that data scientists use for data intake, integration and cleansing to build predictive and prescriptive analytical models, such as predictive analytics, statistical modeling, data mining and big data analytics software.
Business Intelligence At Your Fingertips
With access to an unprecedented amount of data everywhere across a business, the role of business intelligence is now more important than ever in democratizing the data analysis process. Businesses that fail to adopt the right business intelligence approach are missing out on a huge opportunity to enhance their organization. Business intelligence tools can help your business better understand customer behavior, forecast trends, anticipate objectives, avoid bottlenecks, improve social collaboration, and give decision makers the power of strategic planning.