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About Business Intelligence

Business intelligence software enables companies to perform reporting and in-depth analysis of detailed information from across their entire organization. Data from various systems, applications, and databases is accessed, gathered, compiled, formatted, and presented to end users, facilitating faster, more effective decision support by providing them with timely and vital insight about key operations and activities.

Key Benefits of Business Intelligence Software for Your Company

Companies can benefit greatly by implementing a business intelligence software solution. The primary advantages include:

  • Improved access to and integration of business data from disparate sources.
  • Complete, 360-degree visibility into corporate activities.
  • More rapid information sharing across the enterprise.
  • Faster and more accurate detection of the positive and negative trends that impact the business.
  • Real-time tracking of key performance indicators and critical metrics.
  • Improved collaboration and communication with customers, suppliers, vendors, and other business partners.
  • Enhanced strategic planning.

Does My Company Need Business Intelligence Software?

The challenge of managing enterprise data is especially difficult in large organizations. Frequently, critical business information is scattered across disparate systems and applications that exist among various departments and business units. Without business intelligence software in place, retrieving, consolidating, and formatting that data would require extensive time and effort from IT staff and delay the delivery of vital intelligence needed to support mission-critical business activities. Business intelligence provides decision makers with the information they need to make the best strategic choices for the organization.

Common Business Intelligence Features

The business intelligence software packages on the market today typically provide the following features to enable better, faster, and more informed decision-making across the enterprise:

Extensive Reporting
Since business intelligence software is built to help companies make more informed business decisions based on the performance of the organization, business intelligence software needs to have robust reporting capabilities. This will allow decision makers to quickly view visual representations of the data collected across the company. The reporting feature should also be easy to use and not require IT involvement to generate reports.

Flexible Output Formats
Most of today’s popular business intelligence systems enable users to present report output in a variety of formats, including spreadsheets, word processing documents, HTML, and other mediums.

Dynamic Scheduling and Delivery
Business intelligence software should include a report scheduling tool that allows users to set a time to automatically generate the report. An automated delivery feature would also allow a user to automatically send the report to a list of other users as soon as the report is generated. This feature will save users time and ensure that the same reports are created in a consistent manner.

Financial Reporting
As legislation becomes increasingly stringent and the penalties for non-compliance become greater, more and more business intelligence software solutions are incorporating financial reporting capabilities into their offerings. These features include templates for balance sheets and profit and loss statements, the ability to process and calculate financially-oriented data, and the dynamic conversion of foreign currencies.

What to Look for When Choosing Business Intelligence Software

While most business intelligence solutions will provide a broad array of reporting and analysis capabilities, there are some more advanced features that will set some systems apart from the pack. These include:

Business intelligence software is a valuable tool for companies of all sizes, and when used correctly, it will help companies grow. It is important to look for a business intelligence software solution that will be able to grow as your business does. That way, you will avoid having to purchase another business intelligence software solution when you outgrew the current iteration.

Unlimited Data Access
All business intelligence software solutions will provide access to authorized users within the company. It becomes more challenging if your company has data that is antiquated or spread across multiple solutions. There are vendors who provide solutions to address these specific needs.

Enterprise data can be highly complex, making it difficult for functional users to understand and interpret it. Most business intelligence software solutions offer some basic visualization capabilities like charts and graphs. However, if your company requires data to be displayed in matrixes, scatter plots, histograms, and maps, you may need to get a more advanced business intelligence solution.

Predictive Analytics
Many business intelligence software solutions will include the capability to conduct “what if” analysis. This allows companies to see how their business would fare if there was some form of disaster, either natural or simply a business disaster.The predictive analytics feature can help companies become more prepared for shifting business practices