In today’s world, business intelligence is more important than ever before. Across just about every market, those companies at the top of the pile are the ones that both understand business intelligence and have taken the time to make software for it a priority. If you’re unsure of whether or not your company is taking business intelligence seriously enough, keep reading for a look at what the subject covers and how software can make it easier to take yours to the next level.
Business intelligence refers to using all the raw data a company has available about their business functions and applying software and other digital mechanisms to make the most sense of it.
Prior to the type of software we have nowadays, companies were awash with data they either couldn’t use because it just wasn’t possible or they didn’t know about because the tools weren’t there to find it.
There are a number of activities that go into business intelligence and the list grows just about every day. Some of the more popular applications include online analytical processing, querying, data mining and reporting.
Simply put, the more you know about your company—the more you understand about it—the better you can expect your business to do. One of the main benefits of making business intelligence a priority is that it allows a company to make better decisions. Often times, a business could be making all kinds of mistakes without even knowing it or they could simply be doing something better that would make a huge difference.
Another popular use of business intelligence is to cut costs. With all the relevant data organized and laid out before them, financial officers have a much better shot at finding areas where their company is needlessly spending money. It making finding overlaps between different functions, departments, etc. all the more easy.
The first thing you should look for in any business intelligence software is usability. One of the hallmarks of quality software is that you don’t need to wait for your IT person to start using it. Business intelligence is meant to be easily understood by the CIO right on down to an analyst on the ground level.
Second, your business intelligence solution should be web-based. The main benefit of this aspect is that you can access it from anywhere, whether you’re in the office or not. This may seem like a small thing, but you may be away when you get the call that someone has found an item of interest by using the software. You want to be able to log in immediately and find out what’s going on.
However, being web based also makes it easier for you to receive updates to your platform. With many versions, it will also mean you’ll have an easier time getting the help you need if you have to troubleshoot a problem you’re experiencing.
Third, give credence to options that can pull from any data sources your company uses. You don’t want to have to transfer any manually or otherwise transcribe them. The software you choose should also have no problem pulling from multiple sources, not just one. Even if you don’t have the need for this kind of thing now (you may only have one database or data source), better to be prepared for possible expansion down the road.
Likewise, the fourth characteristic is that you need software that will easily integrate with any and all systems you’re using at the moment, not just be able to effortlessly pull your data. This means it should be able to work with things like apps, platforms, other forms of software and systems that will help it gather important intelligence.
Finally, you want software that will make analysis easy. So while pulling and compiling is all well and good, you want business intelligence software that will allow you to see what would happen if you made certain changes. Otherwise, your business intelligence operation will ever only be as good as your best guess.
Business intelligence software should be seen as a necessity for just about every type of company these days. However, finding the right version is only half the battle. You also need to make sure you spend the time necessary to master it.
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