You’ve probably heard the saying, “work smarter, not harder.” That turn of phrase might as well have been invented for BI tools. Business intelligence software (BI) is comprised of a range of data analytics tools designed to analyze and manage data related to your business operations. So what are the benefits of business intelligence software? Some business intelligence benefits include rich visualization capabilities that allow businesses to monitor sales, logistics and even productivity. It also provides extensive data analysis using richly visualized, intuitive reports.
By presenting your data in an easy to understand format, BI software helps you to have a better understanding of your business’ strengths and weaknesses while providing actionable insights into KPIs and other important metrics. This makes it a critical tool to ensure competitiveness and profitability.
Here are 10 key operational benefits of business intelligence software:
1. Get Valuable Insights into Your Business
Business intelligence software benefits and functionality constantly collect and analyze data in order to deliver actionable insights for your business. Professionals can generate reports on a variety of data sets like expenses, operations processes, staffing and customer service.
There are numerous types of reports you can create using BI tools. All BI platforms will offer pre-formatted reporting capabilities that collect data for common KPIs. Businesses can also generate customized or self-service BI reports, applying BI’s excellent visuals to unique, organization-specific data sets. If neither of these options give you what you need, users can run an ad-hoc report, which is put together entirely by users and usually focuses on a very specific KPI that can’t be targeted by other types of reports.
Another unique benefit of business intelligence reports is the relevance of information. Because reports contain relevant data collected within your business operations, businesses are better able to act based on the information contained in BI reports. Plus, you don’t have to be a data scientist to use BI tools — the data visualizations generated by these tools are easy to understand and explain. In SelectHub’s recent survey of organizations in the market for BI software, 48 percent of buyers listed reporting as a desired feature.
2. Visualize Important Information
Operational reports can be difficult to interpret, reducing an organization’s ability to recognize and act on key metrics. One of the key benefits of BI software is that it provides excellent data visualization capabilities, allowing users to create intuitive data visuals that are easy to understand and simple to interpret.
Charts, graphs, videos, animations and infographics are more engaging ways to transmit information than blocks of numbers or spreadsheets. This is partly because the human brain is hardwired to process cognitive information — information that takes more than a glance to interpret and digest — much slower than visual information. Of those surveyed in SelectHub’s recent survey, 81 percent of respondents expected visualization features from their BI platform.
3. Data Mining
BI analytics tools are exceptionally well-suited for powerful data mining. Data mining is the process of seeking patterns in data in order to identify trends and draw insights. It can be broken into five steps: collection, warehousing and storage, organization, analysis, and presentation. Some BI platforms can perform all of these steps for an organization, although others require support from business analytics tools, Big Data analytics systems or data warehousing platforms.
BI analyzes, processes and renders vast amounts of data that cannot be managed with weaker programs. It integrates with data warehousing solutions, in-house databases (e.g. SQL servers), as well as both structured and unstructured data. This allows easy access to valuable information and enhanced decision-making processes that businesses might otherwise miss.
Because BI software is able to instantaneously analyze incoming data, it helps companies catch fleeting opportunities that they might otherwise miss. With the customized reports produced by BI connected to a data warehouse, companies can more easily pick up on trends in company spending, staffing, operations, client development and more.
4. Establish Benchmarking
Fast thinking and effective decision-making is important in achieving success in a business endeavor. Often, those in charge of running a business don’t have the time to conduct a large-scale research project and a particular industry development or product release. Using business intelligence software is like constantly having an in-depth research project in progress that’s compiling information for groundbreaking decision-making.
Benchmarking is a valuable data analysis tool businesses use to gauge their productivity, revenue and overall success relative to that of their competitors. Organizations often struggle with benchmarking, but BI simplifies the process, providing actionable information and reports that are easily understood. That’s why benchmarking is one of the core BI requirements users look for in a BI platform.
Benchmarking reports offer accurate, timely data that allow businesses to evaluate their performance against individual KPIs or trends over time, providing valuable insight into the organization’s current state. With predictive analytics capabilities, users can take these benchmarks and implement them proactively, getting ahead of their competitors instead of chasing behind them.
5. Performance Management
BI also helps track, manage and implement performance goals. With BI tools, businesses can input data-based goals such as sales goals or target delivery time, then track progress on a daily basis. This tracking mechanism is known as performance management, and it provides some of the most effective and easily implemented goal management available.
BI applications make information readily accessible that would ordinarily take hours or weeks to track down and organize. Another business intelligence benefit is that by using dashboards and real-time data, users can easily organize important information and get moment-to-moment updates. This makes for a great deal of time savings and allows you to deal with problems immediately.
With BI’s intuitive visual analytics capabilities, professionals can track goal fulfillment and use that information to gauge overall organizational productivity. When properly implemented, BI tools can boost your performance significantly.
6. Sales Intelligence
One of the most important BI benefits is that it enhances awareness. Those who design business intelligence software know companies can’t take advantage of opportunities they’re not aware of. They therefore design software to make those fleeting opportunities noticeable and provide the details that allow companies to make the most of them.
The reports and data produced by business intelligence systems are great when you need to back up your claims with hard data when negotiating with potential clients. It can also be helpful to make quick sales decisions with real-time data and mobile BI reports. A business intelligence system might just turn out to be the most powerful tool you have when you’re trying to convince clients, vendors or suppliers of the potentials and capabilities offered by your company’s products and services.
When it comes to sales, this type of software is not only effective at supporting your arguments. It also helps you identify trends in customer preferences so you’ll be the first in your industry to know what to offer customers in order to maximize sales. Plus, nothing tops off a pitch like a beautiful visualization of data — BI has your back.
7. Streamline and Trim Operations
A lesser-praised advantage of business intelligence software is its ability to cut down waste. Anything that doesn’t add value to your company can be considered waste: this includes operational and administrative work that can be automated with a BI system. BI does the work that data entry employees or data analysts would typically get saddled with like data organization, de-duplication and other repetitive tasks.
This benefits business intelligence: first, employees can devote their time to more intensive tasks, increasing productivity. It can also save time, money and reduce human error. It also allows users to identify how well the organization is doing with the current staff so you can grow or downsize accordingly.
BI systems can identify waste in your overall operations as well. It does this by pinpointing pain points, bottlenecks and inefficiencies in manufacturing, operations and sales. With predictive analysis features, BI will even offer suggestions to alleviate these problem areas.
8. Eliminate Guesswork
Without business intelligence software, companies are basically forced to gamble when making many important decisions regarding management, finances, marketing efforts and more. With business intelligence software, the decisions made by company leaders are more data-driven and often result in a competitive advantage for your organization.
BI implements a data structure to encourage data-driven decision-making and helps you know the best plan — not just guess at it. This business resource will not only lead to greater profitability, but it will take a great deal of the stress and uncertainty out of running a business.
9. Improve Inventory Management
The advantages of business intelligence systems can even extend into purchasing, procurement and inventory management. Users can generate reports detailing stockroom needs to determine when to purchase new inventory. BI also tracks inventory going out, so you can better prepare for future buying trends and reduce inventory waste.
10. Get a Competitive Edge
The number of businesses utilizing BI is only increasing. According to Forbes, 53 percent of companies they interviewed use some form of BI — up from only 17 percent in 2015. It’s not unreasonable to predict that in the next 10 to 20 years BI adoption will be the norm. This is especially true as the BI market gains increasing pervasiveness and traction. The future is bright for BI.
Business intelligence gives organizations a tangible competitive edge in an ever-increasingly competitive market. Making quick decisions in the business world is part of the job, but knowing those decisions are based soundly in data-driven insights offers another level of security and confidence.
BI even offers fraud monitoring and risk management features! By tracking patterns and monitoring data behavior, BI can identify how likely it is that a transaction, person or network is fraudulent. The same data mining feature that can give sales teams insight into customer desires can be used to make risk assessments and predictions, protecting your organization.
There are a range of advantages of business intelligence software. It is a growing industry that has many proven advantages when properly implemented. It allows users to gain targeted insight into your organization’s past, present and future to make informed business decisions. To accomplish this, BI software collects, organizes, mines and visualizes crucial KPIs. It eliminates waste and guesswork, promotes efficient inventory management, and improves sales intelligence. This powerful combination of features and benefits of BI software offers users a competitive edge that can make all the difference in the modern age.
Do you use a BI system? What is the greatest benefit you’ve gained from utilizing BI? Let us know in the comments!