Business Intelligence forms the back-bone of decision making in an ever-growing number of organisations in the world today. More than ever, organisations need to be able to make fast decisions to changes in the market.
Unfortunately, many businesses do not have a system that allows them to obtain the insights they need to do this. Instead, they rely on spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel to capture, manage and analyse all their business data.
Let’s face it, spreadsheets are one of the most accessible, cost effective and flexible solutions to use when your business is in it’s early days and you don’t really have much data to work with.
However, every business reaches a tipping point as they grow when there’s just too many moving parts to get a proper handle on things and decision making end up suffering for it. The spreadsheet you used to use to track sales, marketing, customers, and inventory is now starting to gain a few holes. Preparing and maintaining the spreadsheet is probably taking up more of your time than you’d care to admit, you can’t identify trends and connections between all the various areas you’re tracking and the data just isn’t as accurate as you’d like.
Long story short, you may have reached a point where you need to level up your reporting and analytics capability and a business intelligence system will get you there.
What is Business Intelligence?
BI is a catch-all term for a range of technology and software that enables organisations to manage and analyse data. Broadly speaking, BI is about combining data from multiple sources and using it to make better decisions.
Over the years, BI tools have evolved into being more of a self-service solution. This makes it possible for anyone in the organisation to analyse data and create their own reports and dashboards. Gone are the days when you had complex models that were built and understood only by the specialist who created them. The BI tools of today are more accessible, intuitive and easier to understand.
There are many BI tools and software out there, some of which are free and some come with a hefty price tag. However, business intelligence is about more than just the software. BI involves data storage, data governance, reporting, insights, and also promotes a shift in the culture of the organisation towards data-driven decision making.
Benefits of Business Intelligence
Faster & more accruate reporting and analysis
BI tools are designed to handle large amounts of data from multiple sources. All of this happens behind the scenes so that you only need to focus on extracting insights. The time and energy saved on this front will allow you to prioritise the things that really matter in your business.
Examples of the kinds of reporting and analytics that BI platforms are capable of can be found throughout the organisation. From product development and greater operational efficiency to improving customer experience and employee satisfaction.
With this kind of insight available to business leaders, it is easier to innovate and find new opportunities.
Single source of truth
BI platforms combine data from various internal and external sources into a single warehouse that is more accessible.
This provides a single source of truth for the data where data governance and maintenance is much easier. Not to mention, you avoid inaccurate spreadsheets or databases that are siloed within a single department. With consistent, higher-quality data available, employees are more likely to use and trust the reports and dashboards that are generated.
Establishing a data-driven culture
Building a business intelligence system leads the organisation down the path of developing a data-driven culture. Decisions are based on data and experimentation rather than gut and guess-work. A data-driven culture is essential if the organisation wants to ensure long-term adoption and benefit of current and future systems.
This is a journey, but it is a worthwhile one. Organisations with a data-driven culture are committed to developing their analytical capability, finding insights and deriving value from their data. This approach leads to greater collaboration within and between departments and a mindset of curiosity and discovery.
Business Intelligence Trends in 2021
A recent survey with over 2,200 participants shed some light on the data, BI and analytics trends seen in 2021. These are the top 5:
- Master data and data quality management
- Data discovery and visualisation
- Establishing a data-driven culture
- Data governance
- Self-service analytics
Essentially, these trends make up the foundation of a good business intelligence system. Organisations must be able to obtain, govern and use their data towards making better decisions. Ultimately, this will help the organisation to move towards their strategic objectives.
BI Is Definitely Worth It
I hope this post helped you to decide whether you want to build a BI system in your organisation. In my opinion, BI is definitely a worthwhile investment and it is easier than ever to get started. Power BI is one of the leading BI platforms on the market at the moment. It is also free to download and start using on your PC immediately.
If you do decide to build a business intelligence system in your organisation then I recommend that you develop an analytics strategy that will also serve as your roadmap. Start small, experiment and make improvements as you go.
For more information check out these resources:
- The Best Self-Service BI Tools, PCMag
- Benefits of Business Intelligence – 2,500 Projects Analyzed, BI-Survey
What are your views on BI? Let me know in the comments below!