Business intelligence solutions are more than just flashy dashboards and nice looking reports. Here are seven ways a business intelligence (BI) solution can help your business:
- Disseminate information. Yes, a lot of people think of reporting when they think of BI, and for good reason. A BI solution generally provides out-of-the-box reports in addition to the ability for the user to easily create reports for personal use and for “public” use (within security rights). The front-end visualization tool may also give you the ability to create interactive dashboards for users to get up-to-date information at a glance. And most BI solutions allow you to export data to Excel or other applications.
- Provide consistency. Not only does BI enable you to get the word out, but it ensures what you are disseminating is the same to all people. Using BI means everyone will be using the same data, the same terminology, the same calculations, and the same hierarchies. When you sit down in a meeting to discuss performance or resolve an issue, you won’t have to start the meeting by reconciling different reports brought in by different participants.
- Consolidate data from multiple sources. No man is an island and the same can be said about databases. You likely use many databases to house your financial and operational data. But often you need to compare data from one application to that from another to get the insight you need to run your business. Maybe you need to compare your accounts payable to your inventory or look at correlations between customers buying a particular product to advertising touches. Many business intelligence applications use their own data warehouse. The BI solution should take care of the extract, translate, and load (ETL) process and the BI solution itself can be used to check the data.
- Increase data quality. Huh? Use the BI solution to check the data in the BI solution? Yes, since BI is basically an analysis tool, you can use your BI application to check the data in the solution and improve the quality of your data overall. You can use your BI solution to test parameters and attributes of your data, look for outliers, see if data stored in multiple systems correlate to one another, and look for data that does not trend in the manner that evidence supports. You can set up traffic lights or exception reports for data that falls outside specific ranges or doesn’t match parameters so you don’t have to plow through thousands or millions of data points to look for erroneous data.
- Facilitate analysis. With a BI solution, you don’t need to be a statistician to analyze data. Most BI solutions include at least some “content” such as preprogrammed reports and calculations. You shouldn’t have to look up calculations or take a course to see what they mean. You should also be able to turn your analysis into a graph with one click to get a visual snapshot of your data. Many times results to your queries result in more questions. With BI, changing your analysis, changing your parameters, or changing the x- or y-axis should be quick and easy.
- Enable discovery. Arguably one of the biggest differentiators of BI from any other product is the ability to perform ad hoc analysis to gather more insight into any area. The ability to start with a vague notion of what you are looking for and refine and refine until you discover something new is unique to BI. BI can provide those lightning bolt insights that can help your business make a quantum leap or those fine-line discoveries that can make a big impact on the bottom line.
- Improve management. A good business intelligence solution should provide insights into your business that make decision making easier and more informed. Data-backed planning and strategies are generally less risky than gut-feel management. Plus BI gives you feedback and helps keep you on track. Dashboards can give management a one-second view of company performance through key performance indicators (KPIs) and even the most non-technical or hurried executive can drill-down to see where problems originate or change the regions or products shown on a dashboard to allow provide more in-depth insight into sales performance or marketing effectiveness.
This is what BI should do. BIO business intelligence delivers on all counts above and many more. To learn more about BIO, click here to register for an upcoming webinar. And please contact me at 203.705.4648 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about BIO or business intelligence in general.
By Sandi Richards Forman of BIO Analytics Corp., Microsoft Dynamics Business Intelligence (BI) Solution Provider