Business Intelligence software helps you perform in-depth analysis and reporting on detailed information across your organization. Data from various applications, systems, and databases is gathered, accessed, formatted, compiled, and presented to the end-user, thus facilitating better, more efficient decision making by providing timely insight into important operations and activities.
Organizations have to be able to think on their feet, which means leveraging your most important asset – your enterprise data. However, as companies implement more business applications and information architecture becomes increasingly more complex, gaining that level of actionable insight can increasingly becomes a challenge. That’s where business intelligence software comes in to help you understand the state of your mission-critical activities, predict industry trends, identify vital operational models, and achieve the efficiency that can enable you to conduct business dynamically.
What Is Business Intelligence Software?
Business Intelligence software allows companies to execute reporting and analysis of business-wide information, from various applications, systems, and databases. Data is gathered, accessed, and presented to users, smoothing the process of establishing faster, more effective decision making by providing timely and important insight into your key activities and operations.
Does My Company Need Business Intelligence Software?
The challenge of running enterprise data is particularly difficult in larger organizations. Often important business information is sprinkled across disparate applications and systems that exist over various departments and units. Without Business Intelligence solutions in place, consolidating, retrieving, and formatting data in order to harness it in the support, planning, and decision-making processes at the strategic and operational levels requires wide-ranging time and effort from your IT staff, which delays the release of vital information needed to support critical business activities.
Business Intelligence software solutions on the market now typically provide the features listed below in order to facilitate faster, more informed management across the enterprise:
Ad Hoc Reporting – To reduce the burden on IT resources, as well as ensure that workers have instant access to the information needed to perform their jobs properly, most Business Intelligence software offers the ability for end-users to build and run reports themselves, while still shielding them from some of the more technical complexities of underlying data.
Flexible Output Formats – Most of the Business Intelligence systems available today allow users to present any report output in a number of formats. Look for business intelligence software that includes formats such as spreadsheets, HTML, word processing documents, and other media.
Dynamic Scheduling and Delivery – Dynamic scheduling and delivery help users schedule reports to run at pre-determined intervals as well as refresh at certain points, so that you have reports completed automatically and pushed to the appropriate users via email, mobile, and more.
Financial Reporting – As legislation becomes more strict and penalties for non-compliance increase, more Business Intelligence solutions are including financial reporting abilities – such as balance sheet templates, profit and loss statements, the ability to calculate and process financially-oriented data, foreign currency conversion, etc. – into their offerings.
There are any number of Business Intelligence software solutions on the market today, and each offers a plethora of options and features, which can make the decision-making process confusing. What Business Intelligence software is best for your organization will primarily depend upon your particular requirements, but regardless of the specific information needs of your business, there are certain characteristics and features to keep in mind while you’re doing your research.
Scalability – As an organization grows, the number of reports needed and accessed data sources will grow as well. Not all business intelligence software is fully scalable, so choosing one that can expand its capacity needs, as well as support growing reporting requirements and broader access needs as they emerge, is extremely important.
Unlimited Data Access – If your company maintains proprietary data sources that are antiquated or obscure, you may be confronted with the challenge of finding a vendor that can access and report on that information. However, there are vendors that have developed data adapters or partnered with an application integration company in order to address this requirement.
Visualization – Enterprise data is highly complex, thus making it hard for functional users to comprehend and interpret it. While most Business Intelligence packages offer basic visualization abilities like charts and graphs, a more advanced visualization like matrices, histograms, scatter plots, and maps might be needed for scientific or mathematical information.
Predictive Analytics – If advance planning and forecasting are a part of your company’s Business Intelligence needs, then you may need to look for solutions that offer predictive analytics. This feature provides sophisticated formulas and algorithms that mine your historical data for trends and patterns in order to present reports regarding future events and activities.
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