Business Intelligence: what is it, and how can it benefit your business?

Picture this. You’ve been tasked with collecting a range of information on margins, billable hours and sales goals. This fills you with dread. Normally, this task would entail a long and time consuming process where you’d need to go to at least three different experts. If only there was another way…

Enter, Business Intelligence (BI).

BI takes all that complex information and quickly turns it into an accessible format that you can navigate – without having to rely on others. Put simply, BI is a term used to describe the process of collecting, analysing and manipulating relevant and reliable data from a range of sources, in order to build data models. This helps keep stakeholders informed, ensuring they’re best placed to make key business decisions relating to growth.

At Croud, our BI team provides businesses with crucial, up to date, and digestible information – all in one place – in the form of dashboards and data visualisations. The result? A single source of truth that’s reliable and easy to interpret.

I get the theory, but how does it work in practice?

As mentioned before, BI is the process of collecting, analysing, manipulating and storing data in order to provide a comprehensive view of businesses, and doing this successfully involves the use of a number of processes (such as querying, data preparation, reporting and visualisation) and tools. Here’s a quick breakdown.

  1. Combine multiple data sources and identify dimensions and metrics – this will  prepare your data for future analysis.
  1. Use databases and machine learning to identify different trends on large datasets. 
  1. Create visual representations of data in the form of charts or graphs to communicate different insights – this will make the data easier to digest and compare.
  1. Share the analysis with different stakeholders to help inform key decisions. Stakeholders also have the option to compare current performance data with  historical data to track performance against goals.

Some of the benefits of BI

The fact that senior stakeholders can compare data pre- and post-COVID, is a great example of how valuable BI is. It allows them to identify critical weaknesses at the right time, so that changes can be made before any serious damage is caused. 

When implemented effectively, BI:

  • optimises internal procedures
  • enables quicker decision making in teams by providing them with a high-level overview of specific market trends
  • identifies areas that may need future improvement in order to drive revenue for the business
  • drives better return on investment… and isn’t that the goal of every business?

More transparency for better decision making

BI can be applied to many different industries, departments, roles and business cases. From human resources (HR) to senior leadership, BI can help empower businesses through quicker decision-making, allowing teams to create different strategies in an easier and more robust way. 

HR teams might use BI to view employees’ productivity, or gain insight into employee satisfaction. Finance teams might track budgets on a yearly or monthly basis in order to identify issues that could have significant long term impact. For Account Managers, BI can be used to display their clients’ performance and trends and to track margins in real time to ensure teams are not over-resourcing particular clients. 

On top of this, social media has accelerated the creation of data, as constant uploading of images, videos and posts have increased the amount of data in the digital world. 

But let’s be honest, not all data is useful. 

In fact, you can have all the data in the world, but if you can’t translate it effectively, you won’t be able to make clear and timely decisions that make a measurable impact. Likewise, if you can’t make the right decisions based on the data, the process won’t be worth it. 

BI plays a key role in making sure senior leadership has broad and granular insight into the functions of the business, providing them with the right information to improve efficiencies and productivity.  

The role of data visualisation

Due to the vast amount of information collected for BI, we need a way of illustrating data in a clear way so that it can be communicated and understood by relevant members of the business. That’s where data visualisation comes into play.

Data visualisation allows you to model raw data into a visual format. Compiling these visualisations into dashboards can tell a story and highlight different trends that might not be obvious through manual analysis. 

This data needs to be communicated in a way that can be understood by everyone in the business. BI isn’t just a temporary solution, it permanently relieves managers and business leaders from the time-consuming process of combining and extracting complex data, allowing them to centralise their time on more valued tasks. 

Never underestimate the value of visual representations of data. According to Seyens, “Half of the human brain is directly or indirectly devoted to processing visual information”, and as the age-old phrase goes, “we process images and visuals around 60,000 times faster than text”. So, it’s pretty clear that data visualisation is a key component of BI. 

Here’s where we come in

I think we can all agree that the potential for greater levels of transparency and alignment, as well as all round better decision making when using BI is impressive. 

But before you get started, it’s really important to first make sure you’ve found the right platform to do this. At Croud, we provide clients with direct access to Datorama – the salesforce powered Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform. By creating a foundation for true data transparency, our clients can come up with actionable insights more easily, at the same speed of their customer.

Now more than ever, having a data-focused mindset is recognised as something that gives businesses significant competitive advantage. Moreover, the role of AI & Machine Learning in business continues to grow, and these developments will likely boost the effectiveness of your BI strategy. 

If any of this information has caught your interest, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help bolster your BI strategy.

by Maria Valdeolmillos Gomez
24 February 2022

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