What is BI, and why should you care?

By Geoff Moten | September 22, 2017

Business Intelligence

Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs) have data needs that are comparable to large enterprises. While they don't match enterprises in terms of data volume, they often do in complexity.

In very small companies, spreadsheets and other ad hoc tools are good enough to get the job done. But as companies grow, the amount of data decision makers need to understand grows: new products and services, new markets and opportunities, investments in operations, sales, marketing, and other systems to support growth. Nowadays that means finding the right Business Intelligence (BI) platform.

What is BI?

Business intelligence (BI) is an umbrella term that encompasses the processes, methods, measurements, and systems used to readily view, analyse, and understand information relevant to the history, current performance, or future projections for a business.  Other terms you may hear include business analytics or decision support.

The goal of BI is to help decision-makers make more informed and better choices to guide the business. BI solutions accomplish this by making it simpler to aggregate, visualise, and ‘slice-and-dice’ the data. This makes it easier to identify trends and issues, uncover new insights, and fine-tune operations to meet business goals.

Why should you care?

As a business grows more people must be part of the data collection and analysis process, and different groups in the organization (sales, marketing, finance, etc.) need to look at data in different ways. Typical problems with the ‘spreadsheet’ approach include:

  • Time consuming and labour intensive: Establishing a company-wide model, collecting and distributing information from different managers, consolidating multiple workbooks, debugging broken macros/formulas quickly becomes unwieldy.
  • Error prone. Spreadsheets often contain errors, and as they become more complex, error rates multiply. Without an audit trail, changes and mistakes can go undetected and businesses make decisions based on bad information.
  • Poor analysis and reporting. Cobbling data together via spreadsheets is cumbersome. The calculations required to effectively shape the data and model it in a workbook quickly too complex to manage, resulting in superficial analysis only.

Some benefits of BI

  1. Accurate data improves conversations by focusing on facts rather than subjective experiences.
  2. Business history is saved to help future predictions.
  3. Growth of the company no longer relies on gut instinct.
  4. BI transforms data to information and knowledge; which then creates a competitive edge.
  5. Business units have the information required to respond quickly & efficiently when a problem occurs.

Until a few years ago, accessing, modelling, visualising and reporting the information required by every modern business would have been out of the reach of all but the large corporates. With the recent advent of powerful self-service BI tools such as Microsoft Power BI, enterprise-grade analytics and decision support is available to every business. The Power BI Desktop Client is free to download and free to use. Try it, you will never look back!

How can Diamond help?

More than ever businesses are looking to improve efficiency and make the right decisions at the right time. Software development is a key tool that can help uncover areas for improvement, unlock productivity gains and help reduce costs.

Contact us today to so we can help find you the right BI platform for your business – call now on 1300 307 907 or via our online contact form below.

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TAGS: Business Value, Software Development

About the Author
Geoff Moten

Software Development Manager (BSc) @ Diamond IT - After becoming obsessed by personal computers in the mid-eighties Geoff has maintained a passion for technology as an enabling force since that time. Over 25 years as a consultant, he has combined software development, systems analysis, software architecture, database design and system administration with project & people management for companies in Australia and North America. In 2014 he returned for his second stint with Diamond after a 10 year sabbatical. “I am very excited to return to Diamond to find an organisation with a strong sense of purpose and a positive, healthy culture. I am dedicated to building the best experience possible for my internal & external clients by understanding their needs and improving the quality, efficiency and efficacy of our systems.”