In the business world, knowledge definitely is power. Knowledge powers a company’s ability to make sound decisions, take advantage of opportunities as they arise, opportunities that can be critical to a company’s market relevance and longevity.
As more and more data are fed into data warehousing systems, thanks to social media and various other data-gathering channels, making sense of huge amounts of data becomes a challenge.
This is where business intelligence software steps in.
According to Margaret Rouse of Tech Target, “business intelligence is a technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information to help corporate executives, business managers and other end users to make more informed business decisions.”
Business intelligence software systems, in a nutshell, are tools that make sense of raw, unstructured data.
Business intelligence software – the benefits
So, why should you invest in business intelligence software?
Aside from the obvious short answer – that you’d rather be informed than ignorant – below are six reasons why investing in business intelligence software is an idea worth exploring:
- Easy access to data
With data centralization, access to data becomes relatively easy. In the case of cloud-based BI solutions, users, no matter where in the world they’re located, what device they’re using, are afforded the timely and pertinent information they need to get things done, work collaboratively with peers, and make data-driven decisions.
Moreover, data ceases to be confined in the IT domain, as is the case in organizations where data can only be accessed by the IT department. BI systems electronically gather data, which is then delivered in an easy-to-digest format, so that non-technical users are on the same page as those who have no trouble deciphering complex statistical charts and graphs.
- Eliminate the guessing game
When all your business decisions are based on guesstimates, you’re technically not running a business. Instead, you’re gambling with the future of your business.
BI solutions afford businesses data visibility into various aspects of the organization, such as financial information, sales targets versus actual figures, and production and customer data.
Investing in growth involves a level of intelligence that’s fact-based, which, in turn, allows you to make correct and relevant business decisions.
- Faster answers to questions
How much did the company earn in actual dollars yesterday ?
Is the team’s productivity rating better than last week’s ?
Which communication channel do customers prefer to use the most ?
Which marketing platform generates the most number of leads ?
Is the company’s social media campaign proving to be a success ?
These and others are questions commonly asked in business meetings, and having the answers at your fingertips makes for more productive brainstorming sessions, as time is spent digging into strategies and possible solutions to problems, as opposed to rummaging through various documents, spreadsheets, files, folders, and a range of disparate applications for all the data you need.
- Improve sales and client negotiations
The explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) is one of 2015’s tech predictions, and software systems, such as Microsoft’s Azure IoT Services, exist to provide companies with a platform to create their own Internet of Things by capitalizing on the data, technology assets, and devices they already possess.
With data and devices being connected to bring applicable real-time information, you can imagine how this is going to improve a company’s relations with customers, hence better financial returns.
Case in point: near-store and in-store notifications that push content/information on users’ phones based on their exact location.
- Get rid of waste
Because BI software systems are usually rolled out on a company wide basis, organizations are able to understand their true business costs and, more importantly, pinpoint systems and processes that are redundant, which can then be better optimized to reduce waste and save on costs.
One example cited in an article in the CIO website is the city of Albuquerque saving $2 million in three years after using BI software to recognize cost-cutting opportunities, such as overtime, cellphone usage and other operating expenses.
- Identify new opportunities through trends, analytics, and forecasts
With data ranging from products that sell well, customer demographics, to how the competition is faring against the company’s own benchmarks, BI software makes it easy for entrepreneurs and key decision-makers to identify the company’s limitations, its strengths, as well as areas where an expansion is pertinent.
This is largely because competitive BI tools carry a predictive modeling feature that, as DATAVERSITY explains, presents multiple scenarios to enable users to “efficiently and cheaply examine their options and predicted results before selecting the most desirable.”
Business intelligence software – some examples
To get you started with BI tools, here are a few examples:
1. Tableau Desktop. A self-service analytics software, Tableau Desktop translates data into organized database queries that allow users to create recurring and ad hoc reports, view patterns, and visually identify insights and trends within seconds.
2. App Annie. App Annie is a business intelligence platform that offers app publishers comprehensive market analysis through data that include store stats, app store bottom line analytics, advertising analytics, and revenue estimates.
3. GoodData. A customizable BI solution that can be quickly deployed, GoodData is used by companies like Target, HP, Virgin America, and Comcast for their real-time insights. For enterprise analytics, it offers features such as sales analytics, social analytics, marketing analytics, service analytics, and Yammer analytics.
4. TIBCO Spotfire. TIBCO Spotfire is an analytics software that caters to a range of industries that includes energy, manufacturing, financial services, consumer goods and retail, and telecom. Technology features it offers are content analytics, predictive analytics, location analytics, and event analytics.
5. Looker. A completely browser-based data discovery and analytics tool, Looker allows data integration with applications such as Excel, Google Docs, and third-party systems. It also integrates with any data warehouse or SQL database.
6. Zoho Reports. From the maker of various web-based programs for small businesses comes Zoho Reports, a multi-featured analytics software that possesses an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, allowing users to create reports, interpret data, and perform in-depth analysis for better decision-making.
7. Klipfolio. A real-time business analytics software that empowers companies to make data-driven decisions and better understand how their companies are performing through key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be accessed from any device.