Nowadays, business intelligence is widely used in an increasing number of industries and in different types of companies and it can, without a doubt, also benefit your business. Knowledge is power and thanks to business intelligence software you can gain the most crucial data for your company and use it to form an advanced data-informed analysis that will help guide your business strategy.
Business intelligence is a set of tools, technologies, and operations that work together to extract vital data about your company and process it to create valuable insight which is presented in a graphic and easily-digestible form. Business intelligence can be used in a number of ways, for instance seeing how well your sales are going or measuring staff performance.
Steps for choosing the right software
Start by determining your needs – before looking for a software solution, determine what you need it for, what business questions you want to ask and how the answers might help your company.
Decide who will use the analysed information – how the data will be used and who will use and analyse the gathered and processed information. For example, one of the tasks of a Junior Specialist may be analysing and processing the data from BI software, so they need every day updates and real-time access to information. At the same time, a Senior Manager may only need crucial information and updates every few days.
Decide on the way data will be input, how often and by whom – you need to specify all the details to be sure that the presented information will be reliable and accurate. Also, remember that the systems need to be integrated to optimise the efficiency of the Business Intelligence tool. You can find more benefits of systems integration here.
Select the features – it is vital to decide which features to implement in your BI software solution, because this will determine the capabilities your software has. Below you will find the most crucial business intelligence features for (not just) small businesses:
Large enterprises usually outsource their data analysis or have a whole department working on analysing information, but small businesses often cannot afford these additional resources and thus regular employees have to gather and analyse data. However, using business intelligence tools and dashboards make this process easier, quicker and the reports much more easily digestible. With dashboards, you can process and compare all the data, creating diagrams and tables. All the metrics can also be found in one place and you can access them easily at any time, this eliminates the need to check multiple data sources separately. You and your employees can spend more time on using the information and not gathering data.
2. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
To make sure dashboards work well and effectively, they have to be filled with appropriate key performance indicators. A KPI is a measurable value that presents how well the company is performing and whether it is achieving key business objectives. They are also the most important metrics for the business. By defining your KPIs, you do not have to waste time analysing every aspect when it comes to the performance of your company, instead, you can focus on the matters that are really important. Remember not to overload your dashboard with too many KPIs, because it will be too complicated to make use of it. KPIs should be used as a guideline, allowing you to identify errors that may not be spotted by people. To use your business intelligence solution in the best and most effective way, take time to choose the most appropriate KPIs for your business.
3. Ad hoc queries
Ad hoc queries are questions that you can ask your business intelligence program at any time. In the past, it took time to get answers to all the questions. All the questions had to be sent to specialized BI companies that analysed data manually and provided the answers. Now it is simpler, if your software allows for ad hoc queries, you can ask questions and get the results on the spot.
Business intelligence software has become very easy and intuitive to use and that is why an increasing number of companies are starting to use it. The ability to ask questions anytime makes data more accessible to your employees. This solution can save both money and time, especially for small businesses.
4. Interactive reports
Interactive reports help users to process the data into insights. With reports, it is significantly easier to understand the value behind the data. Your reports can be ordered into categories of information. Ranking the reports allows you to indicate the best and worst performances and combine them together. The meta business layer makes reporting easier and allows you to access the information in a simple business language that makes the reports universal and easy to understand for everyone, not only professional analysts.
These days, large businesses are not the only ones using business intelligence. Access to BI tools and software is easier than ever and all companies, big and small, should consider using business intelligence software solutions to gain an advantage and reduce the risk of making mistakes. As with other types of software solutions, BI can be equipped with many different features and it is up to you and your business to choose which one to use. The features mentioned above are the most crucial but you can gain even more by implementing others. Headchannel can help you to choose the most vital features for your business and create tailored software, especially for your needs.