Business intelligence, or BI, is a term that is thrown around incessantly in the business world today. It used to be a term associated with large enterprises until few years ago. However, as BI technology has advanced, deployment, licensing and support options have increased making it more affordable for small and midsized organizations. But the question you may be asking is, “Why do I need BI?”
Business intelligence (BI) is a broad category of applications and technologies for gathering, storing, analysing, and providing access to data to help enterprise users make better business decisions.
BI applications include the activities like query and reporting, online analytical processing (OLAP), statistical analysis, forecasting, etc.
First, let’s discuss what BI really is. BI is like an umbrella that combines architectures, applications, and databases. It enables the real-time, interactive access, analysis, and manipulation of information which provides business community with easy access to the business data. BI also analyses historical data- the data that businesses would’ve generated through transactions or by other kinds of business activities in the past and helps businesses by analysing the past and present business situations and performances by comparing data during different timeframes. By giving this valuable insight, BI helps decision-makers make more informed decisions and supplies end-users with critical business information on their customers or partners including information on behaviours and trends.”
Given this definition, virtually all the small, midsized, and large businesses can benefit with the help of BI. Specific issues or scenarios that are good indicators of when BI discussion should take place include:
The need to integrate data from multiple business applications or data sources
Lack of visibility into the company’s operations, finances, and other areas
The need to access relevant business data quickly and efficiently
Increasing volume of users requiring and accessing information and more end-users requiring analytical capabilities
Rapid company growth or a recent or pending merger/acquisition
Introduction of new product innovations
Upgrades within the IT environment
There are several benefits a BI solution offers to an organization, regardless of its size, which are mentioned below:
BI helps to share information efficiently and effectively with people across the organization. It also makes it easier for the decision-makers, functional teams and other entities across the organization to access and analyse up-to-date information anytime, anywhere which will in turn aide everyone throughout the company to make better and faster decisions.
BI helps to empower the employees in an organization by providing them with access to analytical data that is readily available and also allow them to work more effectively and support the overall business strategy.
Simplifies collaboration and sharing and improves alignment with a single source for accurate financial and operational information. Having a single, central location allows one to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs), access reports, analyse data, and share documents. All of the functional areas are aligned to articulate strategies, set objectives, and monitor the organization’s performance so that one can be better informed and make timely decisions that would support overall business strategy.
BI helps to gain insights to understand and analyse business performance and opportunities on a deeper level. Users can analyse and evaluate information that is more accessible and easy to interact with to make strategic and tactical decisions.
It delivers meaningful analysis and reporting. It also enables to track and analyse KPIs against key business goals to gain a better understanding of how a business is performing today and not when it’s too late to impact performance.
BI provides solutions with the scalability and flexibility to grow and change as organization changes. Many companies rely solely on the most widely used BI tool – ‘Excel spreadsheet’. While Excel offers many useful features such as graphs, charts, and pivot tables which assist in decision-making, it doesn’t scale to one’s business. Also, compiling data from multiple, disparate databases are time-consuming and are prone to errors. However, Excel is still a key component of a total BI solution.
The latest versions of all the important Business Intelligence & reporting tools in the market are: