Business Intelligence: The Whole Enchilada
More than likely, one of the bigger issues you face when running a business is that a solved problem often quickly gets replaced by a shiny and new unsolved one. As a company’s environment changes, so too must the company’s tactics in order to stay relevant and to maintain their client base. While daunting at first, business intelligence software is an indispensable solution when it comes to making sure you’ve got an eye on all the elements that contribute to the functionality of your company. BI software is, dare I say, the whole enchilada.
Staying on top of your company and all its moving parts is essential, and business intelligence software provides you with everything you need. Business intelligence refers to the tools and processes used to gather and analyze data in order to make informed decisions. BI platforms allow a company to look at what was done, how it turned out and what they can do to continue the success (or stop the failure, should that be the case). Even when not looking for ways to adapt, pursuing growth and the overall health of your business is a continuous goal that doesn’t have to be a continuous struggle. Business intelligence platforms are key when it comes to helping a business develop and grow, so taking the time to gain a firm grip on your BI software’s capabilities is an investment you can afford to make.
Learn The Language
Utilizing BI technology to its full potential requires a working knowledge of its parts and processes. Becoming familiar with all your BI platform’s intricacies is what opens the software up to making the most of your data and as a result, the most of your company. Pulling the data you want out of all the information you have and turning it into an actual plan can be intimidating. Figuring out what you need and how to go about getting it is the first step in the right direction, and that means speaking the same language as your BI software.
While there are a lot of terms it wouldn’t hurt to know, here are a few key phrases to get you started:
Big Data Analytics
Big data analytics differentiates itself from your run-of-the-mill data analytics in that it specifically refers to the process of collecting and analyzing large sets of data. The goal with big data analytics is to identify patterns, trends and correlations between actions and results, and incorporates multiple types of data in order to draw conclusions that are as accurate as possible. Big data analytics can highlight your company’s strengths and weaknesses, giving teams the chance to nurture the areas that aren’t doing well and to promote the areas that are.
Business Performance Management (BPM)
Also referred to as enterprise performance management or corporate performance management, BPM is concerned with the processes and methods used to maintain an effective workflow. Keeping track of how a business functions also helps when that business needs to make a change; instead of making blind decisions based on guesswork, you can assess where the changes need to happen and (to some extent) the effect those changes will have.
While data mining is a term all on its own, the process itself is a function of analytics. Data mining software combs through all data available to find and extract only the pieces you’re looking for. From there, the data is organized and presented as analytics, giving you a clearer picture of what is really going on within your business.
Communication within a company is vital and data visualization is a tool used to clarify difficult or confusing information. Data visualization takes a business’ analytics and presents them in visual forms, like graphs and charts. This way, instead of reading spreadsheets of numbers to assess how healthy your business is, you can look at a line graph and see peaks and valleys, making the data both easier to explain and to understand.
Data Warehouse (DW or DWH)
Sometimes referred to as an enterprise data warehouse (EDW), a DW refers to the system a business uses to store past data sets for future comparisons. An important factor of business intelligence is monitoring a business’ progress over time, which means having an organized place to keep all your data. Comparing one fiscal year against another shows you whether your company is growing, how it is growing and where it is growing- a benefit when it comes time to set goals. Seeing what you’ve been able to accomplish in the past ensures any current goals you set are neither too lofty nor under-utilizing your abilities.
Predictive analytics is the practice of developing a hypothesis of what the future will look like based on the past. Analysis of current data sets can help a company recognize patterns and trends and use that information to plan the next move. For instance, recognizing that you consistently receive an influx of business during a specific time of year lets you prepare by hiring more employees or ordering more materials before your demand increases. While some variables will always be unpredictable, predictive analytics can help you stay ahead of the curve.
Stay Saucy (And Smart)
Their powers combined, these processes and methods are what come together to form business intelligence. Ultimately, the core concept is simple: turning data into smart decisions. Knowing where your business is struggling and where it flourishes is crucial information and a key indicator as to how you should be allocating your resources and your attention. Business intelligence software alone can’t make a company successful, but it does provide the tools to show you where your company stands and can help you pursue your next level of success.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get myself an enchilada ASAP.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user stu_spivack