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What Is Business Intelligence?

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Business Intelligence (BI) is integral for companies trying to analyze historical and current data. It allows them to uncover actionable insights into their financial strategy and decision-making. Business intelligence tools make this possible by processing large data sets across sources and creating visualizations that are easily understood by C-level executives. 

For ecommerce accounting, business intelligence itself is a buzzword and companies need to be aware of imposters. Business Intelligence in its purest form originated in the 1960s as a sharing mechanism across multiple organizations. It developed even more in the 1980s with computers for organizations. As IT-solutions have become more advanced, so too, has the definition of Business Intelligence. The more technologically advanced businesses become, the more advanced the meaning of Business Intelligence becomes. 

Now, companies have their pick of the proverbial litter as far as flexible, self-serivce analysts can select highly governable data and empower business owners with speedy, actionable insight. 

How Does Business Intelligence Work?

Business Intelligence has four main steps you should familiarize yourself with before trying to implement it into your business infrastructure. The aim of these four steps is to transform raw data into easily-digestible information that businesses can formulate directives around. The first three steps, data collection, analysis, and visualization lay the groundwork for the decision-making step. Before using BI, businesses had to manually conduct analysis, which took loads of company time and resources. Now, they have the automation and tools at their disposal to drastically simplify the process. 

Collect and Transform Data from Multiple Sources 

Most Business Intelligence tools use the extract, transform, and load method to aggregate their structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. They then remodel this data before storing it in a central location. This allows applications easy analysis and query into the data. 

Uncover Trends and Inconsistencies 

Data mining and data discovery typically use automation to analyze data and uncover patterns and outliers that provide insight into the business’s current status. BI tools should feature multiple data modeling and analytics tools that include exploratory, descriptive, statistical, and predictive analytics. These data modeling components can help explore the data, predict trends, and issue recommendations based on what they find. 

Use Data Visualization 

Business Intelligence reporting uses visualizations to better communicate findings to key shareholders and executives. Reporting methods include data dashboards, charts, graphs, and maps that can help users uncover what’s happening in their business. 

Use Actionable Insights In Real-Time 

Viewing current and historical data and analyzing its context pertaining to business activities gives companies the ability to move from insight to action. BI offers real-time data and long-term strategy modifications to streamline operations, respond to market shifts, address inventory problems, and bolster customer relationships. 

How Do Companies Benefit From Business Intelligence?

One of the most apparent benefits to BI tools is the readily available access to information they provide. Whether for performance evaluation or information analysis, they help companies standardize procedures, respond to changing markets, identify potential problems, uncover revenue streams, and issue growth directives. Businesses can experience the following results when integrating BI tools: 

  • Increased operational efficiency and productivity 
  • Customer insights 
  • Sales tracking 
  • Marketing performance metrics 
  • Benchmark KPIs 
  • Real-time updates about data and customer complaints
  • Easily-shared organization-wide analyses 

BI tools are no longer reserved for IT professionals. Now BI platforms simplify data to make it accessible for everyone in the organization. 

What’s the Future Role of BI?

Business Intelligence will continue to evolve to adapting business needs and advancing technology. Each year, artificial intelligence and machine learning become more and more integrated into the business world. Businesses can integrate insights from these advancing technologies into their BI strategy. Companies will continue to share more data, represent that data more clearly, and increase their collaboration across organizations. 

In the future of BI, data visualization will become more and more critical for teams to work together across departments and organizations. With near real-time sales tracking, automatic customer behavior data, in-depth profit forecasting, and other data analyses, industries of all kinds will be able to utilize Business Intelligence to a greater advantage. Every year, business in all industries adopt more and more tools and this shows no signs of stopping. 

Business Intelligence Improves Customer Experience 

BI tools let organizations access all of their customer information in one location.Imagine how much faster businesses could make their customer funnel with access to their behavioral patterns. Data analysis makes it easy for companies to analyze the resources they need to allocate and positively impact the customer engagement and support process.

Business Intelligence Improves Sales and Marketing

BI gives businesses of all types access to sales and marketing performance data. This data includes consumer behavior, buying trends, and marketing performance to ensure future marketing schedules and directives have data support. The more data support these directives provide, the better companies can prepare for revenue and profit forecasting.

Business Intelligence Improves Operations 

Business Intelligence identifies where companies can automate tasks, refine their processes, reduce inefficiencies, and increase productivity. Without key analytics, businesses are essentially driving blind without any clear conception of whether their operations work. BI gives them ample access to data that uncovers where the inefficiencies are and how to remedy them. It also gives them access to testable data. 

Business Intelligence Improves Finance 

With custom dashboards, company executives and accounting professionals can have a clear picture of a company’s financial performance, where to obtain capital, and where to invest. Perhaps more importantly, they can calculate inherent risk and predict future trends. 

Business Intelligence Improves Inventory 

Automating data analysis for inventory improves inventory management, accelerates fulfillment, and creates a dependable sample for buying trends. Given the current supply chain shortages, having this type of data at your disposal is indispensable. 

To choose which BI tools you need to integrate into your organization, you should consider the security, compliancy, and availability of your solution. You should also choose tools that simplify BI insights and make it accessible to your entire team. Data visualization, shared dashboards, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are among the most critical aspects of BI.