What is business intelligence?

Business intelligence tools transform data into insights, enhancing decision-making and efficiency, beneficial for businesses of all sizes, but not predictive.

Nowadays, it is difficult to find a company that is not data-driven. Every business collects and analyses data to gain its competitive advantage. However, the process of gathering and then interpreting information manually is rather time-consuming and error-prone, which is why it is wiser to use a tool to perform the process automatically. The best and most popular solution is, business intelligence.

Contrary to what many people think, business intelligence is not a tool used to perform data analytics. Instead, it is a set of tools, technologies and operations which enable a company to collect and then present valuable data of an organisation in a graphic form so that you can generate comprehensible reports and translate them into insightful information. Business intelligence will become an inevitable need for every company as performing data analysis manually is simply not efficient and may result in a business loss. Without analysing your data properly, you can only make assumptions as to whether your business is profitable or not.

What is the purpose of business intelligence?

The main aim of business intelligence is to help companies make more accurate, data-driven decisions. The tool does not tell or show you what to do, instead, it enables you to see the condition of your business and draw conclusions yourself. A business intelligence solution allows you to spot new business opportunities which you otherwise would have missed and to identify inefficient business processes which you now can improve.

Business intelligence vs. Business analytics

Another essential feature of business intelligence is what it shows you. The data you receive allows you to see what is happening to your business right now and not what will happen in the future. It reads and gathers information concerning all of your business processes and how they influence your company. Business analytics is a tool used to review internal data in order to predict future opportunities based on operations and decisions made so far. It enables you to recognise what can happen or what could happen by taking a specific approach.

How business intelligence works

You need data to do your job better. Business intelligence shortens the time you normally would spend on mining, merging and analysing data which allows you to obtain valuable intelligence about your business. The solution provides you with accurate real-time information presented in the form of charts, graphs, dashboards and maps which enable you to transform it into insights. Visualising data is a great way to better see and understand the state of your organisation.

However, monitoring different aspects of your business requires different sets of data. Furthermore, that data may come from different sources. Business intelligence enables you to decide which part of your business processes you want to analyse and what kind of information you want to obtain. Before you start using the tool, it is best to identify the problems your business is facing and remember that business intelligence will not solve them for you.

Benefits of business intelligence

Using business intelligence tools can play a key part in achieving business prosperity. Even though the results may not be visible at first, making data-driven decisions and improving inefficient business operations helps you to succeed in the long term. The greatest benefits of business intelligence are:

  • Increased sales Tracking your sales, you can easily discover what your clients want and need from your company. What is even more important, you learn how you can address these needs to gain new customers and thus boost your sales. With business intelligence, you are able to analyse the reach of your advertisements, meet your audience and see what you can improve.

  • Improved customer service Whether your company succeeds or not depends on your customers. However, the number of customers is not the only factor you should be paying close attention to as their satisfaction is equally important. Sending out surveys to every customer is a great way to make sure you meet their expectations, but analysing the answers is a highly time-consuming process. A business intelligence tool does that automatically, enabling you to generate valuable reports and spot any responses with low scores.

  • More efficient operations It is possible that you are wasting time on business operations which do not provide your company with expected results. Analysing the internal workflow, you become capable of noticing every opportunity you might be missing. There is no need to measure the productivity of your team when accurate data has all the answers you need.

How to succeed with business intelligence

Implementing business intelligence may be expensive and time-consuming, which is why you need to prepare both yourself and your entire team. When having business intelligence developed by an IT company, business analysts usually turn out to be great advisors when it comes to meeting the biggest challenges and needs of your company.

You need to know what you have – which means what data you can collect or are already collecting and what sources it comes from; and what you want to have – which means what goals you plan to achieve with the gathered information. Again, business intelligence does not do the job for you. Instead, it enables you to see your organisation, its problems and potential opportunities more clearly.

Business intelligence for small businesses

Despite what many small business owners think, business intelligence – just like any other useful business tool such as bespoke software or your own e-commerce platform – is not dedicated to large corporations only. To the contrary, these solutions are even more beneficial when implemented in small enterprises. Exploring and analysing data enables your company to grow as, thanks to its popularity, business intelligence is already available at a comparable cost.

Exploring data is an excellent way to regain competitive advantage as you become more aware of the needs of your customers and the opportunities available for your own company. Without that, you may miss many opportunities that your competitors will be happy to take.

However, what is essential to remember is that business intelligence is not an analytical tool which would tell you what can happen in the future. It gathers and presents data in a graphic form so that you can see the current state of your business as a visualisation and is a great way of exploring information. Forecasting the future is important but it is useless without an accurate understanding of what is happening to your business right now.

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