Regardless of whether you run an already-successful business, or a young upstart getting started in your mother’s basement (and a lot of successful startups had humble origins) you need the ability to make informed decisions through proper data analysis.
There are so many important parts to a business, and even though some parts appear to be free floating appendages on the hypothetical company torso, every part does tie into the other parts. It’s understanding these subtle connections that could make the difference between a company that excels to the top of the market, and one that barely makes it out of the gate. By using Business Intelligence systems, a company can more easily keep track of its numbers, and use them to their advantage.
Defining Business Intelligence
Business Intelligence (BI) is the collection, organization, and presentation of data that is accumulated by a business. This data could be customer information, sales data, statistics, product movement, profitability, and much more. The idea behind gathering all of this data into one place is to mesh it together in a desired fashion in order to display progress and help aid in decision making for the future.
For example, if a company that sells hats checked their BI, they could easily discover that their cowboy hat sales peak in August, while they are barely selling any during December. Knowing this, they could more efficiently decide when the best times would be to put their cowboy hats on sale, and when to stock more.
In every business there are multiple departments, such as HR, marketing, sales, customer service, and so on. Some will even have multiple departments for specific sales, like sporting goods, toys, and clothing. The data that each department gathers goes into its own database.
Each database’s information may be only truly relevant to its own department, but it is important for all of the data gathered to be collected and centralized in order to make comparisons and discover corresponding trends. So, if the same company selling hats sees that cowboy hats are big in August, then might make a comparison to see if cowboy boots trend the same way.
Gathering in the Data Warehouse
In order to make the data give the desired information, all of it needs to come together in the same place. Every database shares its information into a centralized location called a data warehouse. This is where different information from different departments get linked together to create the desired report called a query. Defining a specific query is when certain pieces of data are matched together to get the result you are looking for. The data warehouse is where the information from sales, marketing, and customer service would come together to answer the query of when the right time to start the sale on cowboy hats would be.
The Dashboard’s Job
Once all of the data has been configured for the desired statistics, it needs to be displayed in a form that is both effective and decipherable. Any data acquired can be displayed on a spreadsheet, but the act of getting the desired information out of it might prove to be difficult if not impossible. BI dashboards are in place to take the data, break it down into the preferred statistics, and display them in a legible and relevant way that the user can easily access. This takes the legwork out of manipulating the data by hand, and creating a new document every time.
There are two different types of display boards that appear to be similar, but would actually be used for different uses.
- Business Intelligence Dashboard- This displays the information that is currently in the works of the company. Everything displayed here will be an up to date report of what the company is doing. This is the board that shows the company what departments are succeeding in, and which ones need a little more attention.
- Performance Scoreboard- Here, the information displayed is in comparison to the company’s overall goals. The company’s current numbers will be aligned with their corresponding goal values, which allows them to dictate if they are on track with their projections.
This infographic explains the benefits that Business Intelligence has on companies, and helps keep them competitive in their markets. By using BI, a business can use its own data to forecast future revenue and progress. We all know that business has been done without the use of such techniques in the past, but with the high competition and countless data entries that come with running and maintaining a business nowadays, BI is the easiest and most effective way to take a business to the next level and keep it there.