Smart Data Series: An Introduction to Business Intelligence

This month, we are focusing on smart data and how it makes an impact on your business. We will cover topics on business intelligence (BI), data science, predictive analysis, and machine learning. Let's start with our first topic: business intelligence. Have you ever heard of business intelligence? What exactly is it? Sometimes referred to as BI, business intelligence can be defined different ways, but it basically means providing relevant, actionable information to you quickly in order for you to make better business decisions.

Actionable Information

To get this done, there has to be a way to collect, organize and deliver the data you need reliably and quickly. Certainly there is no shortage of data available. One study reports that more than 50,000 GB of data will be created every second by the year 2018. What you need are tools to convert all the data at your disposal into insightful information you can actually use.

Grab Data Quickly

That is where business intelligence software comes in. There are a lot of factors that go into BI, including data analytics, performance management, data mining, predictive modeling, and other areas. It’s useful to think of business intelligence as a convenience store. When you stop at a convenience store to pick up some bread, milk, and soda, you do not have to ask the clerk where to find them. There are sections and signs that clearly indicate where the different items are located. It is easy to quickly grab your items, organize them for purchase and be on your way.

Centralized Hub

To extend the analogy, business data is like the milk, bread, and soda — instead, the items might be sales forecasting, production data and regional manufacturing results. Instead of looking in three different places for the information, business intelligence centralizes it all in one location so you can get a quick overview of the current state of your business. It takes the mountains of data that your accounting, sales, marketing, production and manufacturing systems generate and turns it into actionable information that you can manage on your own. Just like at the convenience store, you do not need to ask to find what you need. You can quickly navigate through the data and pull the relevant information.

Easy to Understand

This saves you from trying to make sense of reams of confusing spreadsheets and reports. Now you can just ask your business intelligence software what you want to see, and it will deliver the information in an easy-to-understand visual representation that allows you to drill down for even further information if you desire. This gives you many advantages: You can access the data at any time, find areas of strengths and act on them, shore up weaknesses in your operations and uncover new opportunities rapidly.

Real-World Examples

Here are a few examples of business intelligence being used in real-world situations. Continental Airlines invested heavily in real-time BI and experienced a return on investment (ROI) of more than 1000 percent. The system allowed them to improve baggage handling, customer complaint management, ticket sales and booking procedures. Hospital Corporation of America enhanced their business intelligence system to better track patient arrival times, average time spent with patients, turnaround time of exams and services, wait times for lab results and hospital bed vacancies. Perry's Ice Cream realized they were not gathering enough data about their guests and their buying patterns to grow their company to the next level. After implementing business intelligence software, they were able to see fine-grained information about each transaction and the type of customer behind each one.

Better Decisions Faster

No matter the industry you are in — from manufacturing to healthcare — business intelligence delivers actionable information in real time. With that data, you can make better decisions, and make them much faster. You will stay ahead of your competition and sell more products and services in an increasingly tough business environment. For more information on this topic, download our eBook: How to Implement Business Intelligence in Your Company or contact us today!

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