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Author's profile photo Kirsten Barkved

What is Business Intelligence and Why is it so Important?

The definition of business intelligence may have remained (somewhat) the same over the last 50 years, but the technology, and how businesses use it, has changed. A lot.

Business intelligence is a set of methodologies, processes, applications, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful insights. Businesses can use this information to get a 360-dgree view of their company. This helps fuel decision making, increase operational efficiency, and enables businesses to remain agile to adapt to market changes.

Why is Business Intelligence Important?

Businesses face an ever-increasing flow of data and are challenged with gaining insight from enormous data lakes. Business intelligence systems helps companies by surfacing and analyzing data across the entire organization. This data is translated into insights that the company can use to understand its business processes, make informed decisions, and pivot their business strategy confidently.

business intelligence helps companies map out their strategy

A company working with effective business intelligence tools will have data that is accurate, complete, and organized. Teams can see historic patterns to help stakeholders gauge the health of their organization and get a real in-depth understanding what’s going on in your business.

Unfortunately, according to Gartner, more than 87% of businesses have low analytics and business intelligence maturity. Their efforts are often limited to spreadsheet-based analytics and stand-alone projects that lack central guidance or leadership.

That’s why having the right business intelligence tools are important. Business intelligence can look like:

  • Monitoring the organization for problems and identifying root causes
  • Tracking potential customers through a sales pipeline
  • Measuring the performance of business metrics against benchmarks and goals
  • Push data-driven decision-making in the enterprise
  • Leveraging predictive technology to proactively identify trends or issues

Who uses Business Intelligence?

The short answer? Everyone in the organization. But historically, this wasn’t always the case.

Traditionally, business intelligence – the analysis of data, calculation of metrics, and compilation of reports – was strictly in the realm of a data professional or team. Those who conducted the analysis of the data were at a premium because their skills were highly specialized.

But this created a lot of inefficiencies, bottlenecking data and delaying decision making.

Enter self-service BI. This approach enables anyone with permission to directly access and analyze company-wide data. This removes the bottleneck of having to go to a data team with a request; users of self-service BI have intuitive interfaces so that common data tasks are easy to perform. Users can filter, sort, analyze, and visualize data to extract insights with intuitive interfaces that make common data tasks easy to perform.

It’s worth noting that this evolution didn’t replace data professionals, it just freed up those teams to perform more advanced work.

Machine learning, natural language query, and predictive technologies also enable business users to quickly produce unbiased stories and reports with technical training, allowing everyone to focus on higher-value strategic decisions.

Features of Business Intelligence Tools

business intelligence features include charts, like bubble charts

Different organizations will have different needs from their business intelligence tools, depending on their industry. Regardless of their agenda, these are the top features to look for when evaluation your business intelligence software:

Data visualization

This feature is a key component for most business intelligence tools. Data visualization is the use of visual elements to bring data and information to life. This helps businesses turn their data into a story and understand trends and patterns. When considering a business intelligence software, make sure you’re able to see what kinds of charts, maps, and graphs they have available.

Augmented Analytics

Augmented analytics is one of those terms that seems to confound everyone. It’s a fancy way of saying it automates uncovering insights. It’s an approach of data analytics that using machine learning and natural language processing to automatically surface data. Traditionally, this was conducted by a data specialist or a team. By automating the process, users can uncover insights much quicker.

Connection

Most organizations have a complex IT landscape, with multiple vendor solutions, from on-premise to the Cloud, including hyperscalers and SaaS providers. This diverse technology landscape makes it incredibly challenging for companies to truly integrate and monetize data assets. Make sure the solution you’re considering offers you integrations to connect applications, data, and processes seamlessly.

How Companies use This Insight

Brainstorming session around business intelligence

Gain insights into customer behaviors

Business intelligence tools boost your ability to analyze your current consumer buying trends. When you understand what your consumers are buying, you can use that information to enhance the customer experience, reduce churn rates, and improve your relationships with your customer.

Optimizing processes

You can use business intelligence tools to share information across different departments in your organization. This saves time on processes and analytics, and you can also leverage augmented analytics to automatically analyze aspects of your business, helping you gain valuable insights in less time.

Budgeting, forecasting, and financial analysis

Business intelligence tools provide the insight that organizations need into their performance on numerous levels and help them plan more efficiently for the future. Make sure the tool you’re considering provides you with the ability to integrate with multiple systems so you can consolidate your data and operate off a single source of truth, like Callaway Golf.

Make the Most of Your Data

As the speed of business accelerates there has been an increasing focus on digital transformation. This boils down to the ability to quickly hardness information to deliver and exceptional experience that offers business value for the end customer.

Check out the Ultimate Guide to Enterprise Analytics to learn more about a holistic approach to business intelligence.

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