Business Intelligence (BI) helps you better understand your business.
BI uses a combination of software development and business analytics to deliver reporting, analysis, monitoring and scenario-prediction.
The definition of BI is a process of collecting and processing information about your business to identify insights that help you make good decisions. The term "BI" also is used to include the applications used to collate, process and promulgate the BI data.
To better understand BI, we've broken down the typical applications of this key managerial tool.
The Four Stages of Business Intelligence
Business Intelligence is generally divided into four different stages which together form the process of BI that businesses working with data should be aware of.
1. Information gathering
During the information gathering stage, data is either prepared from existing sources (existing contact data, ERP data, financial database) or collected externally through the use of in-person or online surveys, polls, questionnaires or forms.
Feedback data can be gathered from customers, staff or advisors, and consideration given to anonymity and privacy in order to provide the most honest and reflective data possible.
This is one of the key areas of turning raw data into information. BI makes it easier for the user to explore the data and turn it into useful information. There are three common types of analysis:
- Spreadsheet Analysis - probably the oldest form of analysis where data from a spreadsheet application is translated into tables, pivot tables and graphs in order to identify specific trends and inconsistencies.
- Software that allows users to develop their own specific data queries - where data has been collected it may be automatically analysed by software or on importation - for example results from a SurveyMonkey public survey.
- Visualisation Tools – graphs and charts that take raw data and create visualisations that users can read and understand - legacy programs like Crystal Reports and new technologies like Power BI are good examples of visualisation tools.
Once data has been analysed it needs to be reported on.
Reporting is the act of taking the analysed data and presenting it in a way that makes a human connection, or some sort of focus where advantages are to be gained through actions.
Depending on the tools involved, reporting can happen as an extension of the analysis phase, but for BI to be effective it must be reported on after being filtered or defined during the analysis stage before being presented as a report.
Reports may be presented as tables of data on screen or paper, but can also be shown as pivot tables, graphs, or as an executive summary in a corporate report.
4. Monitoring and Prediction
Business Intelligence is a circular process, and therefore the forth stage of monitoring and prediction can flow on back to the first stage, being information gathering.
Monitoring allows the user to monitor data and information in real-time. Monitoring provides snapshots between reporting periods or when making decisions. The three main types of monitoring are:
- Dashboard – A central location where all useful and actionable metrics and data are contained. They are usually represented graphically to make it easier for users to read.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – KPIs measure the performance of selected key drivers from the organisation.
- Business Performance Management – Also known as a Balanced Scorecard is a system that is designed to ensure that performance goals for your organisation or projects are being met and results are being delivered.
Prediction helps management predict what will happen based on the data currently available and other trends. Prediction can be an incredibly complex form of BI, and uses a combination of insights gathered during the analysis and monitor/predict stages in order to make decisions on future outcomes, or on what data to focus on for the next Information Gathering stage.
There are two main types of prediction:
- Data Mining – Is the act of finding patterns and relations in and between large sets of data in order to extract or transform data into something we can understand and further use.
- Predictive Modelling – Any modelling that sets out to predict the outcome of an action, or the probability of an outcome.
Are Power BI dashboards and reports what you need for your business?
Our software development team uses world class Microsoft technologies to deliver Power BI solutions through SQL, SharePoint and even Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Through our approach to BI we can help to focus on capturing accurate and timely information that allows you to make informed decisions.
Embracing BI doesn't necessarily mean you're re-inventing the wheel - Business Intelligence is often crafted from existing data sources and systems, and can be complementary to your existing software and business processes.
If you would like our assistance on harnessing the benefits of Business Intelligence, call us on 1300 307 907 or contact us via the "Let's Talk" button below to contact us online.