Today’s business managers have access to a rich, deep variety of data about their companies. Using Business Intelligence (BI) software, they can gain real time visibility into operations and leverage analytics to get valuable insights. The challenge is to find the right BI solution and understand how to implement it for your particular business.

What is Business Intelligence?

What is Business Intelligence? The term refers both to a type of technology as well as the processes and practices that realize its potential. The word “intelligence” is borrowed from the military. BI is about using software to gather information about your own business, much as the CIA gathers data about America’s enemies. And, as usually happens in the cloak and dagger world of spies, the information you need is often hard to see. BI tools bring hidden, but useful data to the surface.

In functional terms, BI comprises the extraction of data from business databases and the loading of that data into multi-dimensional data arrays or “Data Cubes.” The BI tool performs analytical processes on the data cube, rendering business data in meaningful graphical displays. The value of the cube is its ability show correlations between separate data sets. For example, a BI tool could illustrate a previously unseen connection between the rate of employee sick leave and customer service complaints.

What Can a BI Solution Do for My Business?

BI can perform a huge range of valuable functions for your business. Indeed, the breadth of BI capabilities can itself be overwhelming. There are simply so many great options to choose from. At a high level, BI solutions like Microsoft Power BI offer the following features:

  • Collection, analysis and visualization of data – creating charts and real time “dashboards” of business data, e.g. sales and expenses
  • The combination of multiple types of data into the analysis process – presenting multi-layered graphs of the results, e.g. matching customer addresses to a map and showing their locations on the map
  • Descriptive analytics – creating a summary of historical data and presenting it in visual form
  • Diagnostic analysis – discovering the source of issues highlight through descriptive analytics

Business Analytics, a term that’s used interchangeably with BI, is actually a more advanced form of BI. Also called “Data Analytics,” this process involves using data to make predictions about the future or inferring insights from highly sophisticated data science techniques.

How Do I Get Started with BI?

It’s very simple, but also a little bit challenging to get started with BI. Working with us, you can easily get set up with a BI tool like Microsoft Power BI. The hard part is figuring out how to make the most of it. If your business is new to BI, it pays to start small and build competencies. For example, a great first BI project is to develop a sales dashboard that compares forecast to actual sales.

From there, you can get as sophisticated as you want. Integration with multiple data sources is key to success in BI, however. This can be a somewhat involved process. Let MIBAR help you unlock the potential hidden in your business data. To learn more, click here.