In the information age, data is worth its weight in gold—but only if it’s captured, organized, analyzed, and acted upon properly. But in order for businesses to be able to accomplish this complex task, they need business intelligence (BI) solutions.
Business intelligence refers to the software, programs, and applications that are used to refine and present the data that companies use to direct their actions. And although the concept itself has been around since 195—when IBM’s Hans Peter Luhn first identified it as relating to the understanding of how statistics can be interpreted in order to achieve goals—it’s seen it’s most-important and widespread application just within the last two decades.
Business intelligence (BI) is a process or set or processes that can be used to identify relationships between different concepts. It can identify trends, and locate relationships between how captured data is related to assorted outside variables. Intelligence also works by analyzing how data is structured, and what triggers certain events. BI can also be focused inward, to help identify the effects that business processes have on the overall success of an organization. In short, if it has to do with the analysis of raw data, business intelligence is the process that makes it happen, and businesses are very interested in taking advantage of these possibilities.
According to research by Gartner, approximately $14 billion is spent on BI software every year.
And while this may seem like a lot of spend, it pales in comparison to the ROI that such software generates. Nucleus research even goes so far as to claim that for every dollar invested in BI and analytics, businesses can expect an average return of around $13, for an ROI of over 1300%. How is this possible? Well, it all comes back to the real value of the data being analyzed. When businesses are able to use BI and analytics to refine their data into reliable conclusions, they are five times as likely as their competitors to make better, faster decisions. Data, after all, is really little more than the promise of being well-informed. A superior BI solution does just that—it allows its users the benefit of being informed in regard to business decisions.
Every decision maker should have access to the the most up-to-date, reliable information if he or she is to be expected to lead a business in a profitable direction. However, not every decision maker has an IT background. As such so it doesn’t make much sense to design a BI platform interface that requires one. According to 83% of business professionals, easy access of data is an attractive feature of business intelligence. An intuitive, easy-to-learn interface, when coupled with built-in training options, helps to improve adoption rates, and allows for an easier transitionary period—even for users who might not be IT certified.
This increased, intuitive usability should extend beyond basic controls, to the entire interface. As previously stated, data that isn’t accessible isn’t very valuable. BI platforms are designed to be able to share information in a way that can be easily understood, and to do that, the best platforms rely on advanced data visualization. Data visualization is the process by which complex data is converted into diagrams, charts, graphs, and other visuals, so that users can quickly assimilate large amounts of data. Data visualization may also be interactive, often in the form of interactive dashboards, so that users can get a more in-depth review of data, when needed.
Even if most of an organization’s BI processes are performed in the office or on a single server, there are certain issues related to availability that might come up. If, for example, a decision maker has to access the BI platform while traveling or otherwise away from the office, then they would likely run into problems. Cloud-based BI platforms make it possible for authorized users to access and work with the BI platform from any device with an internet connection. Cloud-based platforms also allow users to save money associated with expensive hardware installation.
Additionally, a superior BI platform should be able to work with more than just raw data; it should be able to function seamlessly with any other analysis tools that an organization may use. This allows for a more-complete BI solution, and reduces the likelihood of important data being lost in the shuffle. And because no two businesses are exactly the same. BI platforms that allow for in-depth customization make it possible for businesses to tailor their BI activities to their own unique needs, allowing for full integration across the entire organization.
In the world of analytics, business intelligence may be the most powerful force to ever arrive on the scene. By using advanced computational programs, the right BI platform can easily mean the difference between well-informed, data-driven decisions, and failure. But just because an organization has the ability to analyze its data, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s doing it right. By finding a superior BI platform that fits their distinct needs, organizations can ensure that the data they capture is as valuable as it’s meant to be.