Business Intelligence (BI), the analysis of business data to extract useful information, has been making the headlines lately, and for a good reason – it’s a game changer. Although still at the infancy stages, businesses that implement BI are not only guaranteed improved sales but can also expect better relationships with their customers.

With more and more businesses jumping onto the bandwagon (Gartner expects BI to be a $22.8 Billion market by 2022), you too should consider investing in BI tools. If you’re still on the fence about the technology, the following are five key BI benefits that will change your mind.

1. Turn raw data into actionable information

Many businesses already collect tons of data. From customer contacts to demographic information, sales data and so forth, SMBs have huge volumes of data waiting somewhere on a PC, external drive, or perhaps even on the cloud.

Unfortunately, collecting data alone can’t help you make useful decisions. You could have several terabytes of data on your server, but if you can’t break down and analyze that information, your small business is no different from those that don’t collect any data.

The primary function of BI is to help convert raw data into useful information for business executives. Through BI tools such as Sisense and TIBCO Spotfire, you can break down large pieces of data and analyze each closely to obtain actionable insights.

2. Make smarter decisions

The way BI tools work is simple – they serve as a technical backbone to all your business activities. All the data generated from every corner of the business goes into a central repository and, from there, a thorough analysis is performed on the data to obtain insight.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution such as Looker typically serves as the heart of the BI system. But remember that a well-implemented CRM system also serves as a bridge between teams in the organization and will help small business owners run reports that deliver key performance metrics, including; productivity, staff performance, sales cycles, core customers, product preferences, market trends, and revenues.

With a BI solution in place, all this information is channeled through the system so that the information can be analyzed alongside other critical data from other areas of the business such as accounting and human resources. In the end, any decision business executives make are based on hard facts and not assumptions or guesswork.

3. Deepen your customer knowledge

We already touched on CRM systems and customer data and therein lies another massive benefit of BI – they help businesses gain a better understanding of their customers.

Markets are saturated; there’s no denying that. This saturation gives consumers plenty of options, making the current market hard to target.

And then, there are technologies that continue to grab consumer attention. A recent study by The Next Web shows that we now spend 6 hours 42 minutes online on average, with most of that time spent playing video games, watching videos, and chatting on social media.

These two trends have pushed the customer as far away from brands as possible, which partly explains why customer loyalty is at an all-time low.

To solve this problem, businesses must find ways to understand their customers better. And that’s where BI comes in! Through BI solutions such as YellowFin BI, you can draw together data from all platforms and various departments, including; sales, marketing, customer service, operations, product development, and finance to create a single source of truth about each customer. As a result, you create a working New Customer Journey for each product or campaign.

4. Deliver exemplary customer experiences

According to another Gartner report, customer experience (CX) is the new battlefront for business competition. The report shows that businesses that are winning the CX battle record more new customers while at the same time retaining most of their existing clients. It further states that owing to the importance of customer experience, 66.67% of businesses say that they have shifted focus to CX.

If you belong in this category, BI solutions such as SAP Business Intelligence can help you advance your customer experience goals. We’ve already seen that BI pulls all vital customer information into a central repository, making it possible to make informed decisions and allowing businesses to understand their customers better. This understanding of your customers can help you give each customer exactly what they want.

One way this works is when sending out advertisements. A large number of consumers have installed ad blockers just because they often receive endless ads, some completely irrelevant to their needs. BI tools help advertisers with information to send the right ads at the right time, so you don’t end up in the consumers’ bad books.

BI can also prove useful in customer support and during the purchase journey as it allows businesses to remove danger spots that might compromise the customer experience.

5. Boost data governance and compliance

While not a primary function of business intelligence, the tools can also help with data governance and compliance.

With regards to governance, think of it this way – without a central repository, business data is left floating around in multiple silos, making it impossible to achieve a 360-degree view of your customers. It means that some of the customer actions may pass you by without you being aware of it. This cannot be allowed as even a small loophole in the sales system opens up gaps for wasted spend and revenue loss. Tools such as MicroStrategy brings all your data into a central warehouse where you can monitor and act upon each customer activity promptly.

As for compliance, the gaps we just mentioned can be costly if they breach the increasingly strong data regulations. Sending insensitive communications, for example, attracts hefty fines in most countries, including the US. Then, there are also laws such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was recently enacted to govern capture, storage, and usage of personal data. Without a sound data management system, it’s easy to make mistakes that breach these laws.

BI goes a long way in keeping data accurate and up to date so small business owners can avoid any mistakes that might breach data regulations.

The Bottom Line

The role of BI in the modern-day company cannot be overstressed. When you implement these tools, you’re not just guaranteed better insights that would help you make improved decisions, you’re also investing in a solution that would help you understand your customers so you can delight them with improved customer experiences.