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Why Business Intelligence Is the Key to Success

Why Business Intelligence Is the Key to Success

As a business owner, you ultimately care about the bottom line: how are your resources being put to use, and what is the expected return? In recent years, companies have seen their profit margins shrink to the point of losing ground to competitors or going out of business altogether. And while there are many contributing factors to this that are outside of your control, it is imperative to have a comprehensive overview of your business performance to stay successful.

Business Intelligence (BI) software provides that and more: a complete set of data and context to help you make informed, strategic decisions. But of course, BI software is only a useful tool if your decisions are, in fact, driven by data. There are two key factors at play here: choosing the right BI software solution for your organization, and making the systemic choices necessary to benefit from data-driven business intelligence.

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Why Does Business Intelligence Matter?

Business Intelligence software takes a granular look at your company and offers performance analysis that you can act upon immediately. Data may include customer behavior, economic environment, internal operations, web performance, and more. BI software gathers, analyzes, and stores data from different sources, and then collects it into an easily accessible format, whether it’s an online dashboard, data warehouse, or a more traditional Excel spreadsheet. The information can then be shared with the right people within the organization. BI is about visibility, getting actionable information out of data, to ensure success.

Many companies already track where and how their resources are being spent. CFOs manage their budgets and CTOs manage their hardware. But BI software provides a holistic, consolidated view that places data in the context of the business or department:

  • are you spending too much money on a marketing campaign that is not generating any profit?
  • does a particular supplier routinely deliver goods late?
  • does your team under-produce compared to their peers?
  • is your website not performing according to plan?
  • which sources of outbound marketing drive the biggest portion of sales?

In short, BI provides the data you need to detect and correct issues, as well as areas where you are doing well and that can be expanded on. This, in turn, provides the necessary information to make quality decisions on the direction of the company, leading to efficiency gains, tight internal controls, and maximized profits. Knowing your business is the difference between long-term success or short-term failure.

Why Now?

In a time of recession, businesses need to minimize risk more than ever. There is a strong movement, particularly among start-ups, to focus efforts on a particular product or service offering rather than doing a little bit of everything. This “lean” movement, which promotes creating more value with fewer resources, is a direct response to both the recession and giant conglomerates that expand their offering through acquisitions rather than in-house development. But in order to operate at maximum efficiency, you need to have full visibility into your performance. BI provides historical as well as current views of your performance, arming you with the foresight to adjust to changing market demands.

Think Big, Build Small

Data-driven business intelligence isn’t just a way for enterprise-level companies to stay on top. Many forward-thinking entrepreneurs are now using advanced analytics data to shape their decisions in the earliest days of a start-up’s existence, positioning a product or service in the market based on feedback from product testing.

The idea of a “minimum viable product” was popularized by Eric Ries as a low-risk way to test the market demand for a web-based product before investing resources in a complete build. It’s a very different sort of “MVP” than the one many of us are familiar with, but you shouldn’t assume that this strategy means being especially risk-averse (or lazy, for that matter). Rather, the data gathered from a round of testing helps development teams to focus their efforts — did early users have difficulty using your dashboard because of wobbly Javascript, poor user interface design, or a shortage of accessible documentation? Was one feature in particular far more popular than all the others?

This application of data-driven strategy is handy for the most bootstrapped of start-ups, but it isn’t reserved only for the creators of social networks and builders of iPhone apps. For instance, larger companies can use A/B testing to make constant, small changes to a website based on observed interactions. Or SME companies can test the demand for new features before building out the code that enables them. Minimizing wasted time and other resources is the type of game no company – of any size – can afford to forfeit. is one of the top recruiting sites in the world. Monster was also one of the first companies to make job hunting online accessible on a massive scale. The company has remained competitive through constant innovation and a data-driven culture. Sign up for a free webinar on Tuesday, July 31st, sponsored by SiSense, where Monster’s VP of Business Intelligence and Analytics, Jean Paul Isson, will explain how you can win with Business Analytics. You can sign up here.

Need more on Business Intelligence? Discover more about BI software by researching the top 10 solutions available currently on the free BI comparison report.

  • Top Expert

N. Rowan

Director, Program Research,
Program Research, Editor, Expert in ERP, Cloud, Financial Automation