Over the past three years, the global economy has been battered by an unprecedented series of volatility shocks. From protracted lockdowns and skyrocketing debt levels to soaring inflation and war in Eastern Europe.
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The result has been an ongoing global market slowdown. Unsurprisingly, this has had a profound impact on businesses large and small. Many have struggled to make ends meet, while others have been forced to scale back on investments and hiring plans. To survive in this hypercompetitive market environment, more and more businesses are turning to business intelligence tools to reduce operational costs and improve strategic decision-making.
Business intelligence is an umbrella term for a range of technical and procedural activities involved in the gathering, management, and presentation of business information. Business intelligence can include a variety of data sources, including financial data, human resources data, product benchmarks, and environmental or scientific data.
Ultimately, business intelligence platforms and tools make it easier for organizations to capture critical business and operational information, gain insight from it, and use it to make better decisions.
To give you a more specific idea of how to leverage the advantages of business intelligence, we’ve compiled a list of four business intelligence tools you can incorporate into your organization today.
Data mining is the practice of searching for and extracting information from large volumes of data. Data mining tools break down complex datasets into smaller, more manageable chunks. These tools then use a variety of algorithms to identify a range of fine-grained insights.
There is a wide range of open-source and proprietary data mining tools on the market, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. For example, a drag-and-drop tool like RapidMiner may be the best option if your organization doesn’t have a dedicated data mining specialist. Alternatively, more powerful tools like Oracle Data Mining will only work well for those who are comfortable with machine learning applications.
An extension of data mining, data modeling solutions take the chunks of information produced through data mining and refine it by progressively filtering out insignificant information and trivial variable relationships, ensuring that only relevant data is retained.
There are many different ways to build a data model, but the most common method is to start with a set of data that you know you need to learn more about, build a descriptive or predictive model on top of that data, extract insights from the model, and then use those insights to iteratively improve your model.
Data visualization translates the complexities of data mining and modeling into a format that is easier for others to understand. This typically involves the generation of user-friendly graphics like static charts, interactive graphs, or infographics.
In addition to improving organizational communication, data visualization democratizes business intelligence insights for non-technical audiences. The dissemination of critical information in an aesthetically pleasing format, rather than the presentation of thousands of rows of data and a hundred columns of commentary, is crucial when it comes to delivering results to key business stakeholders, not to mention the general public.
When are production schedules most efficient? Are our reporting metrics accurate? How did supply chain constraints affect total revenue compared to the same quarter last year?
These are just a few of the questions that can be answered by a well-formulated business report.
Business reports are the culmination of the data mining, modeling, and visualization process. They are the final, and arguably the most important product of business intelligence, compiling all the information produced by the previously listed tools into a single, digestible, and referable format.
The main limitation of business reports is the age-old problem of garbage in and garbage out. Many business reports are produced by teams that have never used business intelligence tools before. A lack of understanding of what data to focus on, and what tools to use, can lead to a report that is, at best, too shallow to be actionable.
Robust business reports require careful attention to the quality and manipulation of data. For best results, your organization may want to consider hiring a business reports specialist to ensure satisfactory data quality and reporting consistency.
Business analysis and reports have been a fixture of the business world for decades. Unfortunately, for many organizations, the production and distribution of data-driven reports have remained a low priority. However, as the volume and complexity of data increase, so does the pressure for reporting systems that provide up-to-date, relevant information to the business.
Incorporating a dedicated business intelligence team or consultant into your organization will not only help keep your competitors at bay, but it’ll also provide you with the means to improve employee productivity, cut operating costs, and make better long-term decisions about your business.