With the business environment getting extremely competitive in recent years, the objectives behind implementing Business Intelligence initiatives are becoming increasingly apparent. Timing is everything. Critical business decisions need to be made at the right time.

Executives cannot afford to wait for days and weeks until complex reports are generated, data is analysed and inferences are gathered. In today’s business environment top executives need real time information at their fingertips, enabling them to make key strategic decisions quickly.

A business organisation is like a ship. Depending on the size of the company, you may be a large boat or a cruise ship. No matter what, the captain steers the ship and the captain needs to see and discern a potential risk way ahead in advance to avoid a shipwreck. The earlier he sees, the more stress free the cruise to safety. If the potential risk like a reef is only discovered meters from disaster, it’s too late. Timing is critical.

So also in a business environment, the need for key strategic decisions just at the right time is critical. This is driving businesses to incorporate Business Intelligence into day-to-day operations. Some of the key objectives behind implementing Business Intelligence we have seen are:

  • Timely Decision Making
  • Growth in Income & Profitability
  • Improved Operational Efficiency
  • Better Customer Service
  • Competitive Advantage

WHAT DOES BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE REALLY GIVE ME?

A good BI implementation will help you integrate various sources of data and present them to you as useful understandable business information. The reports from your intrinsic database systems no longer look like a sheet out of a Calculus text book or unending sheets of numbers. In contrast, they are presented in dashboard forms and charts, allowing for drill down when required. A snap shot of “reliable” information is what a CEO and CFO needs to be able to make strategic timely decisions. Even better if the CEO and CFO can access this themselves through a self-service interface on their mobile devices.

TRANSLATE FOR ME PLEASE:

Here are a few examples of various scenarios in most organisations.

Get valuable insights into customer buying trends

One of the key advantages of investing in a Business Intelligence tool is the ability to view your customer buying trends on a simple chart or dashboard. Once you completely understand what products your customers are buying and when they are buying, you can use this information to streamline your production accordingly, maintain inventory levels accordingly, reduce unnecessary costs involved in the production and stocking processes and consequently increase profitability. You can also use this information to identify buying trends by region or by retailer and streamline your sales and marketing costs accordingly.

 

Better Organisational Visibility

A good Business Intelligence system analyses all data sources (eg: sales, production, HR, Logistics) and gives you valuable insights of process duplications. The BI system can help you identify key trends or patterns within your organisation and consequently make important connections between different departments that may otherwise seem unrelated. The cost implications of various mundane business processes often times go unnoticed. A good Business Intelligence tool can help you understand these costs and take strategic actions, consequently reducing operational costs and increasing profitability.

Predictive Analysis and Forecasting

Browsing through multiple spreadsheets and scores of reports are probably not the best way to try and predict a future implication or forecast company performance over the next 12 months. At the end, your decision will almost always be based on your instinct. Implementing a reliable Business Intelligence system allows you to make a well informed “evidence” based strategic decision. Forecasting company performance can be near accurate, barring unforeseen external factors. Hence, CEOs and CFOs of early adopters of BI, such as NIKE, H&M, PEPSICO, PUMA and thousands of others are well ahead in their game.

Budgeting and Planning

Traditionally, budgets are made out on excel spreadsheets sometimes based on historical actuals and other times based on (sorry to say) “instinct”. For eg: Someone in the management decides there’ll be an average 5% increase across all expenses and 15% increase across all revenues. With Business Intelligence implemented, you can consolidate all budgets, change the figures on the fly on a dashboard or chart and actually “see” the implications that could have 6 months down the line. This is invaluable to a CFO or CEO. Whilst expenses are under your control, revenues are not. If there has been a short fall in anticipated revenue for a quarter, you now have the ability to quickly “see” the implications and make strategic decisions to ensure budgeted profitability.

There are many more valuable benefits of implementing Business Intelligence in your organisation. In simple terms, Business Intelligence is turning raw data into actionable information. A reliable BI tool can significantly improve organisational efficiency and increase productivity. Information sharing between departments via a BI tool can significantly reduce process duplications and improve accuracy.

In order to reap all the benefits of an effective Business Intelligence system, try and invest in a tool which allows a self-service model, reducing the need for ongoing consulting services or reliance on highly skilled IT personnel.

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Santosh Chandran is the Business Development Manager for BOARD Management Intelligence at Olympic Software. He regularly blogs about business intelligence and corporate performance management. You can follow him on Twitter  or on LinkedIn.  Please contact him directly if you would like to find out how BOARD can improve your business results through better decision making, phone 09 980 3964 or email: santoshc@olympic.co.nz