How is BI driving Data Decisions

In today’s world, companies use various software like ERP, HRM, CRM, Tally, Salesforce, Web services, etc. There are different databases like MySQL, Oracle, DB2, Ingres, Postgres, MongoDB and the list goes on. Data generation is rapidly growing with collation of personal data, financial data, sales data, business data, accounting data, so on and so forth. Though, there are different software and databases, but the missing element at this point is an insight on the information.

There is a need for centralized location, where one can login and view current news and updates. This location will be like a storehouse of information, collated from various location and data. For a profitable business establishment, numerous parameters and accurate information are required by the managers to achieve the right decision for the growth of an organization. At this point, business intelligence plays a pivotal role in providing accuracy in information and views to profitable paths.

Business Intelligence (BI) refers to technologies, applications, and practices for collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information. The purpose of BI is to support and improve business decision-making. A proper BI system helps with right information, at the right time, in the right format.

A single BI could help all the departments like:
1. Marketing Department – Helps in growing its top-line with features like analyzing campaign returns, promotional yields, and provide solutions to expenditure for profitable ROI, and tracking social media marketing
2. Sales – Finding the best path and practices, customer acquisition cost, and improvement in yearly turnover and sales
3. Inventory – Monitoring and adjusting inventory levels
4. Human Resource – Tracking and managing employee turnover, attrition rate, recruitment process, etc.

Correct usage of BI has shown excellent results in all the sectors, be it healthcare, e-commerce, NGO, government, media domain, etc.
– On an average, ROI is $10.66 for every $1 spent on business analytics
– Moneyball movie guided by BI was nominated for the best picture
– FEBREZE marketing campaign was aided by BI, sales now hit over $1 bn annually
– Correct usage of BI can help in reducing OPEX by up to 50%
– FT used high-end BI functionality to see a growth of 20%
– The US government uses BI to assign tasks to the police personnel

Main Elements of BI are
There are many parameters on which BI tool are tested before selection

– Interactivity :- The various reports and dashboards should have high level of interactivity. Let say, if a person is viewing the total sales report, the report should be interactive and navigable so that one can drill down to view specifications like product sales, time period, etc.

– Data Visualization :- It is important to have an accurate format for data visualization. For example, month on month sales would be represented in the form of line graph, component wise contribution would be displayed in the form of pie diagram, etc. In case, the data is not represented in accurate format, drawing conclusion on the basis of unorganized format will lead to open ending decisions. Any BI tool should have really good data charting engines integrated with it.

– Connection to databases :- As explained earlier, BI tool has the ability to fetch information by connecting to different databases and webservices so that the right information is provided to the stakeholders. This can be implemented by the right ETL tools which are an additional part of BI tool.

– Mobile BI :- Increase of mobility among the workforce, is raising demands to create a space for information on mobile phones, tablets, and other such devices. Hence, the reports, dashboards, mashups, etc are being rendered to compatible with on the go devices.

– Ad-hoc Reporting :- Usually the requirements of a business user and an IT person differs on a large scale. This elongates the development cycle which creates a requirement for ad-hoc reporting. It helps the end users to drag, drop, and configure their own set of reports, visualization, and analysis as per their requirements from the dashboard.

– Application Integration :- BI tool is an easy integrable device, which is compatible with existing application/portal/software irrespective of its developed software of PHP, Java, Ruby, C or any other platform.

– Predictive Analytics :- By using high-end algorithms and using historical data, predictions can be made like propensity of a customer purchase and his return, machine failure, sales expected, revenue expected, region wise sales, etc. With this system adaptation, a company is set to be more proactive.

Apart from the above mentioned, there are other factors like speed, in-memory analytics, cloud BI, and security to name a few.

BI is an essential tool for companies to take concrete measures in their growth and decision-making aspects.  According to a survey, if a decision is made relying on data rather than pure intuition, the chances of succeeding are 79% higher. BI gives companies a more structured way to look at data while providing deep interpretations. It aids decision-making via real-time, interactive access to and analysis of important corporate information.

BI tools bridge the gaps between information silos of an organization. A company, which is not driven by metrics, might not be able to understand the problematic areas, whereas a company with BI has the capacity to access industry information and insight to the problem, and based on the data, a plan can be worked towards improving its business processes.

(Article taken from my original article published on Dataquest magazine – http://www.dqindia.com/dataquest/column/186915/how-bi-driving-data-decisions/page/1)