The use of business intelligence (BI) tools has been gradually increasing in the past few years brought about by the rise of big data and developments in analytics and cloud technology.
Even the average social media user has come across analytics tools one way or another. Users of LinkedIn are shown segmention of their profile visitors and in Facebook (if you are a page administrator), you can see the popularity of your page's posts and the engagement. This brings data analysis to the masses.
So what is Business Intelligence exactly?
The question of how to analyze business data is answered directly by business intelligence. Companies and organizations produce an incredible amount of data. These are useless for now other than for the original purpose they were created. However, with the advancement of business intelligence tools such as business analytics, companies can use the data they have collected to make strategic decisions. (For more in-depth information, download our free Business Intelligence in Retail Guide now!)
Imagine running a hotel. You have the information of your customers stored such as their personal details, a history of their previous visits, all products and services they have acquired, the dates the checked in and checked out and many more. Aside from this, you also have all the data on your hotel's expenses, inventory and staff. Imagine being able to use this data you have collected for several years to predict staff needs, food stocks, running costs etc.
But this all sounds very complicated. We're not technicians.
The beauty of BI is that many BI platforms are designed especially for the use of non-technical people. Through the use of dashboards and easy to understand performance indicators, charts and graphs, they allow you to have an immediate snapshot of your business in a few seconds. Reporting is actually a key feature of many platforms and are designed to be understood by key decision makers.
What if I want to use data from different sources?
I don't just use spreadsheets.
Several BI platforms have the ability to integrate different kinds of data whether they are of different formats or sources. Some don't even need coding. Just simply drag and drop within the platform. And it doesn't just have to be data from saved files or from other platforms. They can also come from sensors. Many of them are connected to the internet and the data from there can be harvested and interpreted with a BI platform.
Of course, some platforms are more capable than others and you will just have to make sure that the platform you select can read all the kinds of data you want to integrate.
Can I predict the future with this?
Some BI platforms can provide predictive analytics features which show the probability of something happening. For example, the trend in the number of customers or demands for certain products. You can even predict the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. You can even identify and manage risks. Monitoring Twitter feeds can be done to identify certain intentions to commit fraud.Want a deeper look into Business Intelligence? Get access to our free Business Intelligence in Retail Guide.