A more competitive market, their struggle for higher productivity levels and the current economic crisis, among other factors, have obliged many companies to continuously search for new strategies and tools in order to make the best decisions possible.
The main improvements made over the last decade that aid companies in making the best decisions are the rapid evolution of information technologies, the automation of many business processes and the possibility to store and manage high volumes of data.
This is where the concept of Business Intelligence comes in. Business Intelligence refers to being able to predict future events, optimize response times and avoid obstacles even before they have taken place. It seems that more and more enterprises are turning to these strategies, as a study conducted by Constellation indicates that Big Data and Business Intelligence tools will be rocketing in 2013. According to this same report, 50% of CTO´s consider that Big Data and Business Intelligence tools will be on the top list of most corporations and SMB’s.
Business Intelligence. When and why do I need it?
When a company grows, logically, its process and data volumes grow as well. When this happens, frequent tasks such as creating trustworthy reports or exposing specific information in weekly meetings start to bring a myriad of problems. This, combined with reduced productivity levels or disappointing sales results, could give companies the motivation they need to implement specific Business Intelligence strategies and tools to begin collecting and analyzing all the necessary data rapidly. Without the appropriate tools, trying to find the cause behind decreasing productivity levels can be a nearly impossible task.
Motivated by this increasing demand for Business Intelligence applications, a large number of manufacturers are launching new products, focused both on large companies as well as on smaller sized companies.
Main advantages of Business Intelligence
1. Time savings. One of the key advantages of Business Intelligence is that most business processes are automated, which generates important savings both in time and costs, which in turn contributes to increasing overall productivity levels.
Let’s consider an example. It may take days for an accounting department to prepare its monthly financial report using traditional tools. However, with adequate Business Intelligence software, the same department will be able to rapidly obtain the required financial data, and automatically generate the report with a simple mouse click.
2. Easier and quicker access to information. It is clear that, over the last few years, the amount of business data has propelled. Therefore, it is important that companies focus their efforts on digitizing and collecting their data via document management software. However, it is equally important that Business Intelligence tools offer easily accessible information that clearly shows the evolution of the data and, this way, allows companies to anticipate future events.
3. Correct and relevant decisions. In order to stand out from the competition, reduce costs and increase profits, a company must make correct decisions. To do this, these decisions must logically be based on trustworthy and relevant data, and this is exactly where traditional methods begin to fail. Most of these tools and systems cannot guarantee the relevance and precision of the collected business data.
4. A quick ROI (Return On Investment). Large companies like McDonald’s, Tesco or Yahoo Inc. are “intelligent companies” that have been implementing Business Intelligence strategies on a large scale for years to maintain their status in the market. Until now, most SMB’s have not considered implementing Business Intelligence tools, either because of their high cost and complexity, or because they simply don´t know where to start. Today, however, a new generation of Business Intelligence software is directed specifically towards this type of companies. These new tools are generally very easy to use, are geared mainly towards the financial sector, and, in many cases, they are easily integrated with a department´s existing spreadsheets.
In short, on the one hand, current Business Intelligence tools are easily integrated with existing applications, they are less complicated and come at a lower price. On the other hand, the wide vision of all the business operations obtained via this software are, without a doubt, advantages that will greatly improve an organization´s business processes and increase productivity levels with a quick return on investment.
By André W. Klein & Julio A. Olivares