Introduction to Business Intelligence – Power of Visualization
Business Intelligence Systems, at a time, were part of only huge organizations with huge IT Spending Plans. However the great amount of research and development in the field of big data and analysis has been carried out. It accounted for the emergence of many companies offering business intelligence systems to help with business growth using data.
Today every business understands the importance of data. Most of them use the data to learn, improve and grow their business. A research carried out by Oxford Economics in 2014 suggested that more than half of the companies with sales under $100,000 were planning to use business intelligence within three years—a jump of 43%. But be careful before taking the plunge. According to Gartner citation, 70% to 80% of business intelligence projects fail.
The decision of whether to implement a Business Intelligence Software for your company or not might just help you achieve that groundbreaking success your business deserves and BI Implementation gone wrong could instead lead you to the pitfall from which recovery will not be an easy deal. Through this article, we’ll help you position yourself to make smart use of business intelligence.
This article explains Business Intelligence in the easiest way possible. It discusses the ways your company can make most of it. Most importantly, how you successfully implement it with everything detail in place. To make the whole thing easy, we will also look at some examples of how companies are using business intelligence systems to get business insights, critical information and make better decisions driving exceptional results.
When you think about implementing BI software for your business, it’s very sure that questions like what is BI software? What are its uses? the hows, whys, and when are going to clutter your mind. We would try to help you understand this software by answering a few questions. To start with lets clear the most important doubt:
1. What Is Business Intelligence?
According to technology research firm Gartner:
Business intelligence (BI) is an umbrella term that includes the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance.
In general, Business Intelligence is all about utilizing the business information made available through various resources to make a better decision by analyzing that information. BI tools are used for pulling together facts and figures from various sources and produce charts, reports and other insights to run the business more efficiently.
Business intelligence solutions can be used to analyze any aspect of your business. From monitoring the sales activities to checking the efficiency of business operations or measuring the performance of human resource, mapping out the missing details, business intelligence tools help with everything. I am not exaggerating here, but Business Intelligence tools just make lives of business much easier. It simplifies the complexity and gives the power of visualization. You can predict future of the business and the consequences of business decisions are clear.
2. How will Business Intelligence benefit?
Business intelligence systems could be expensive and difficult to put in place. So the first question that pops up in mind is, why do it?
Dresner Advisory Services in 2014 conducted a study and through it came to conclude that the most important reason for a business to use BI Solution is “To be able to make better decisions”. The other reasons were mainly to achieve the following:
- Growth in revenues
- Increased competitive advantage
- Improved operational efficiency
- Enhanced customer service
Did you notice that this comprises of all the key factors determining a company’s success? So it’s clear, business intelligence is very much the brain of a company, just like ERP is the spine and crm the heart of any company. All these Business Solutions not only help a company in increasing the income and reducing the investments but forms the lifeline of a company and helps in running the business in the most effective manner thus making a company stand out and ahead of competitors.
Most of the companies analyze data or at least try to analyze data be it by pulling few spreadsheets in Excel. The process using such tools however in very complex and time-consuming and often results are not what you want. Excel is great for crunching numbers but it cants work a lot with only numbers.
“When done properly, Analytics Solutions can provide insights into trend analysis that otherwise can’t be seen,” Dan Linstedt, president of Empowered Holdings in Saint Albans, said in an Inc Magazine article. “Business Intelligence and Analytics can also provide insights into the cost of acquiring new customers over time, and how those costs are related to ‘customer gain or loss.”
3. Features of BI Software
Customers are the blood life of any business and BI tools helps understand customer thus helping a business significantly.
According to an article, online luxury women’s goods retailer Gilt Groupe uses email for attracting customers. It sent an email every day at 11.45 showing items at the daily sale with link to buy. With this system in place they very much need to monitor the email activities. They monitered purchases made through email, user data and other details for developing future plans sales goals.
The company did collect data on its customers’ browsing and shopping history and more, but it meant a complex time-consuming process with vague and not so precise and unclear data that was not producing actionable results.
According to Gilt implementing business intelligence system enabled them to combine information from many sources and analyze it in a better way to predict much more accurately which customers would be attracted to which offers.
- More customers were attracted to new merchandise categories where they had not purchased before.
- A 100% lift in conversion for women who were identified as being likely to shop on the men’s site, but had not yet done so.
- Conversion rate increased significantly.
Every business person knows how important it is to control inventory in order to run the business efficiently. A properly managed inventory lays the groundwork for increased cash flows and profits. BI tool is most effective to achieve that.
“Cutting excessive inventory—and thereby the cost to maintain it—is one of the easiest changes a company can make to immediately affect its bottom line,” Dwight deVera, senior vice president at arcplan, told CIO.com. “And a BI solution with a good dashboard provides retailers better visibility into inventory, enables them to make better decisions about what to order and when so goods don’t sit idly on warehouse shelves.”
Wine retailer The Wine House put this into practice, freeing up $400,000 in capital by using its new SAS analytics software to identify inventory items that hadn’t moved in more than a year.
Many other organizations follow this approach including telecoms company Asurion Asia Pacific. They used BI Software to analyze and improve its inventory management. It generated a great ROI within 6 months itself.
Analysis tracking conversions
Business Intelligence systems don’t always have to be complex and only for IT Folks. Many simple free Business Intelligence & Analytics Software choices from google like Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools as well are BI tools. Only that these can’t be used for businesses with more traffic but is indeed used on a personal scale. Business Intelligence Systems for organizations, however, does the same thing but only on a large scale and much more accurately.
Bob Shirilla started a small business after spending two decades at a large IT company. His company regularly used data analysis software. He told Inc Magazine that his sites, Keepsakes-etc.com and Simply-bags.com, “are doing very well in a very competitive product space. I attribute their success to the business decisions made by using the Google Analytical tools.”
If free analytics tool by Google could help so much, not so difficult to judge what wonders could be done by complete BI Solutions. It is not very difficult to gauge that all the big companies do have a BI System in place.(Even if they deny it, they secretly do).
You might feel like dismissing this point right now thinking that there is no way Business Intelligence (BI) Software would help in customer service. to make my point clear, SureFlap, a British company, had this great idea: a cat flap that uses microchip technology to let in your beloved pet and keep out other cats. But as founder Dr Nick Hill says, “Having an amazing product isn’t enough; you need to wrap it up with amazing customer service too.”
So the firm decided to use BI tool to map out hundreds of customer satisfaction surveys every week and constantly analyse the results. This allows SureFlap to identify and address problems, resulting in satisfaction scores of over 90%.
The system also notifies the customer service team of any individual survey responses with low scores, so that they can follow up with the customer and try to resolve any outstanding issues.
4. Implementing Business Intelligence
There has been much of talk about this business solutions software and its benefits. You also learnt how businesses use it for good. If you are already thinking of having a BI System for your company, you might want to know about the whole “Implementation” gaga associated with Business Intelligence (BI) Software. To make the whole thing easier for you, we’ll look at a simple process you can follow, and some examples of popular Business Intelligence Software companies you could investigate.
Firstly identify your objective of implementing Business Intelligence (BI) Software for your company?
The first question to ask yourself is what you’re hoping to achieve.
As we’ve seen, business intelligence is an umbrella term for a wide range of solutions, in any area from customer relationship management to operational efficiency. So what’s your priority?
Do you want to boost sales, for example, or improve satisfaction among existing customers? Do you want to squeeze out more efficiency from your operations or your workforce? Be clear about the overall priorities and long-term plan for your business. Later analyze how business intelligence systems can help you reach your objectives.
What Do You Have?
Once you’ve got an idea of what area you want to address, consider what data you already have. What information are you collecting right now, and what could you easily collect with the right systems in place? One of the main functions of Business Intelligence and Analytics is to pull together data from different parts of your business and analyse it. So consider what kind of data you have available to feed in, as that will likely drive the results.
Also consider existing solutions you’re using, such as simple spreadsheets or databases. In some cases, these may be enough.
“There has to be enough data available so it can’t be readily understood without assistance,” says Paul Massie, senior director of operations and IT for YouSendIt. “There’s no point in implementing a BI if the data volumes are so small a person can look at the data and reach accurate conclusions.”
What Do You Need?
Once you’ve decided on an area of focus and identified what you have, it’s time to make a decision on what you need.
If you’ve decided to focus on workforce efficiency and you already have data on employees’ performance. you can consider which system you want to implement.
Do you want something that integrates all your existing data and produces charts and reports showing you who’s performing best? Or do you want to identify new data sources and better ways of measuring employees’ performance?
Do you want to buy a simple software program, or have something customized for you? Will you prefer a cloud-based system, software as a service, or a software package that you install and run yourself? Do you want something that’s compatible with your existing systems or something that replaces what you already have?
Once you’ve got clear answers to all these questions, you can start shopping around. You can check out major BI Softwares and talk to vendors who provide these solutions.
To get a better insight of what the system is actually capable of, you could browse through the following :
With so many things involved, it can be confusing. Give us a shout and let’s meet up over a cup of coffee. We assure you to find the solution and help you take your business to the next level.