Business intelligence (BI) is one of the fastest growing business applications, but it may also be one of the most confusing. What does it really do? In this article we shed light on 6 practical ways you can use BI.
Business leaders make hundreds of decisions every week about everything from daily operations to strategic investments. Some have little impact, while others change the direction of the company – and the lives of people working there.
In any case, data stored in company databases can help you make decisions based on solid, rational logic. With data you can accurately assess the situation and evaluate different scenarios. The more facts you have, the less risk you take.
And that’s where business intelligence comes in. Business intelligence enables you to quickly monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and analyze data – on all different levels. It’s a fast and easy way to understand what’s happening across the business.
The better you can track company health and understand what’s happening, the better you can make decisions and lead your organisation in the right direction.
Let’s look at 6 situations where you need Business Intelligence.
6 Situations where you need Business Intelligence
If you are interested in any of the following areas, Business intelligence can help.
#1 Measure growth and profitability
Business intelligence helps you understand what is driving growth and how to you can improve results. Dashboards enable you to review revenue streams compared to budget, growth rates, average revenue per account, discounts, net margins, gross margins, EBITDA and other metrics which you define.
You can also track changes in results over time and examine the underlying reasons for change by looking at different segments. If the indicators are too high or low, or trending the wrong way, you can work to fix the issues.
#2 Track KPIs
Business intelligence tells you how every business area is performing – whether you are responsible for marketing, sales, finance, operations, customer service or the overall business.
Sales leaders, for example, can get detailed insight into customers, activities, win rates, deal sizes, cycle times, conversion rates etc. With this information they have better visibility into processes, can identify areas of improvement and better coach reps.
Using spreadsheets for the same calculations would take too much effort and salespeople wouldn’t be able to monitor their own progression.
According to research, high performing sales teams are 3.5 x more likely to use sales analytics than underperforming teams.
See also: The KPI-Gallery – 20+ Illustrated Examples
#3 Monitor sales pipeline
Do you know whether your pipeline is filling up fast enough? Are your sales reps prioritizing the right opportunities? Can you explain to management or the board, why sales are above or below target?
Business Intelligence provides detailed insights into your sales pipeline so you can have better control and greater forecasting accuracy.
Custom reports provide insight into sales opportunities by contact, company, stage, type, category, status, expected close date or any other dimension.
If you have sales data in several systems, like CRM, ERP, ecommerce, subscription management systems, or contract management systems, a business intelligence tool is the only reasonable way to gather data into one place for analysis.
#4 Analyze product performance
If you sell hundreds of different products or parts, you probably have a lot of questions about how much you are selling, to whom and at what price.
Business intelligence pulls information onto dashboards so you can sort, filter, sum, and compare data about product family, category, type, or more.
The main advantage is you can quickly answer detailed questions about demand and make better decisions about product lines. You don’t need special technical skills or analytic capabilities. Reports on this level of detail may take weeks to compile without business intelligence.
#5 Run a contest
If you want to run a sales contest or get employees excited about a specific goal, consider using business intelligence. Business intelligence isn’t the first tool you might think of for this purpose, but it is effective.
Modern business intelligence tools track activities and present results on scoreboards. You don’t have to track scores by hand.
Because scoreboards are updated instantly they create excitement. Everyone is notified when something happens – and that creates a buzz. Picture a live scoreboard showing new customer meetings booked, new sales deals or positive customer feedback. As scores go up, so does the positive momentum.
#6 Reduce manual reporting routines
Management reporting is frustrating and time-consuming. It can take hours to gather, analyze and present data. Spreadsheets may need to be revised several times and errors can occur. Consider how many steps are required to prepare end of month reports?
A business intelligence system does the steps automatically and presents the reports in easy to understand formats. This includes chart, graphs, maps and other combinations of text and graphics.
A final word
In all the situations above business intelligence provides relevant information in a way that is quicker and more efficient than traditional tools.
Even though these examples are primarily related to sales, business intelligence is used across functions to analyze and improve a wide range of processes.
As companies gather more data, they are investing in more business intelligence. It’s no wonder that business intelligence is one of the top ranked technologies for 2021.
Additional resources: See examples of dashboards in a live demo.
Authors note: This article is reposted with permission from House of Control group.