Nowadays, business intelligence is widely used in an increasing number of industries and in different types of companies and it can, without a doubt, also benefit your businesses. Knowledge is power and thanks to business intelligence software you can gain the most crucial knowledge for your company and use it in the best way.
Briefly, what is business intelligence? BI can be considered as a set of tools, technologies, and operations that work together to extract vital data about your company and process it to create valuable outcome information and present it in a graphic form in order to be easily understood and used in the future. Business intelligence can be used in a number of ways, for example, to see how well your sales are going or to measure staff performance.
Steps for choosing the right software
- Start by determining your needs - before looking for the software solution, determine what you need it for, what business questions you want to ask and how the answers might help your company.
- Decide who will use the analysed information – how the data will be used and what specific questions should be asked depends also on the person who will use and analyse the gathered and processed information, as well as their position. For example, one of the tasks of a Junior Specialist might be analysing and processing the data from BI software so they need everyday updates and real-time access to information. At the same time, a Senior Manager might need only crucial information and updates every few days provided in the reports.
- Decide on the way data will be input, how often and by whom – you need to specify all the details to be sure that the presented information will be reliable and showing exactly what you need. Also, remember that the systems need to be integrated to optimize the efficiency of the Business Intelligence tool. You can find more benefits of systems integration here.
- Select the features – it is vital to decide on which features to implement to your BI software solution, because this will determine your future cooperation with it and what the capabilities of the software will be. Below you will find the most crucial business intelligence features for (not only) small businesses:
Large enterprises usually outsource their data analysis or have a whole department working on analysing information, but small businesses often cannot afford it and thus regular employees have to do the work of analytics, gathering data and analysing it. But it is not the best idea to spend resources such as money or time or employees on inefficient searches. Using business intelligence tools and dashboards make this process easier, quicker and the outcome in a much more legible form. With dashboards, you can process and compare all the data and create diagrams, and tables. This graphical form is much easier to understand and make conclusions. All the metrics are also in one place and you can access them easily at any time, this eliminates the need to check multiple data sources separately. You and your employees can be focused and spend more time on using the information and not gathering data. Design dashboards well to be able to use it efficiently and change to a data-driven approach.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
To make sure dashboards work well and effectively, they have to be filled with appropriate key performance indicators. KPI is a measurable value that presents how good the company is performing and achieving key business objectives. They also are the most important metrics for the business. By defining your KPIs, you do not have to waste time on analysing every aspect of the performance of your company but you can focus on the matters that are really important, measure them and analyse the impact. Choose the KPIs wisely and be sure that you get the information you need. Remember not to overload your dashboard with too many KPIs, because it will be too complicated to make use of it. KPIs, which are guidelines, allow you to identify the culprits that may not be spotted by people. To use your business intelligence solution in the best and most effective way, take time to choose the most appropriate KPIs for your business.
- Ad hoc queries
Simply, ad hoc queries are questions that you can ask your business intelligence program anytime. In the past, it looked different and took time to get the answers to all questions. All the questions had to be sent to specialized BI companies that analysed data manually and provided the answers. Now it is simpler, if your software allows for ad hoc queries, you can ask questions and get the results on the spot. Business intelligence software these days is very easy and intuitive to use and that is why more and more companies are starting to use it. The ability to ask questions anytime makes data accessible to your employees. When one of them acquire the information, they can ask the question ad hoc and get the results immediately. This solution can save both money and time especially in the case of small businesses. Always keep in mind that it is not enough to get the information. You must know how to use it.
- Interactive reports
Interactive reports help users to process the data into knowledge. With reports, it is significantly easier to understand the analysis and data itself. Reports contain the information they get within the software solution of the company and the KPIs chosen previously. Your reports can also be ordered into categories of information. Ranking the reports allows you to indicate the best and worst performances and combine them together. Meta business layer makes reporting easier and allows it to access the information in a simple business language that makes the reports universal and understandable for everyone, not only professional analysts. Reports are the essence of what you can get from the business information. Used wisely, they can be a powerful ally, providing you the information necessary to make decisions and win the competition.
To sum up
These days, large businesses are not the only ones using business intelligence. Access to BI tools and software is easier than ever and all the companies, small and big, should consider using business intelligence software solutions to gain the advantage and reduce the risk of making mistakes. Like in other types of software solutions, BI can be equipped with many different features and it is up to you and your business which to choose and use. Features mentioned above are the most crucial but you can gain even more by implementing others. Headchannel Ltd. can help you to choose the most vital ones for your business and create tailored software especially for your company and its needs.