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Empowered Decision-Making: Applying Business Intelligence and Analytics

Jul 22, 2023 | Business Software and Tools

In today’s data-driven world, it’s all about making informed business decisions. But how can you effectively process massive data and turn it into actionable insights? That’s where Business Intelligence and Business Analytics (BI and BA) come in.

You’ll learn how BI uses technology to analyse data, giving managers and workers the information they need to make informed decisions. You’ll also discover how BA transforms data into insights that can improve business decisions.

You’ll see their roles in various sectors and how companies like Netflix, Walmart, and American Express use these powerful tools to boost their business performance. This article will guide you through the world of BI and BA, highlighting how using these tools can enhance productivity, increase revenues, and lead to business success. So, are you ready to start your journey to empowered decision-making?

What is Business Intelligence and Analytics?

What Is Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence (BI) is a technology-driven process that involves analysing data to deliver actionable information. This information helps executives, managers, and workers like you make informed business decisions. BI gathers data from both internal IT systems and external sources, prepares it for analysis, runs queries against it, and creates data visualisations and reports. This process makes the analytics results readily available to you for operational decision-making. BI incorporates a mix of analytics, reporting tools, and various methodologies for managing and analysing data.

This data can include historical information and real-time data gathered from source systems as it’s generated. This enables BI tools to support both your strategic and tactical decision-making. BI’s role is to enhance your organisation’s business operations through the use of relevant data. Companies that effectively use BI tools and techniques can translate their collected data into valuable insights. These insights about their business operations and strategies can then be used to make better business decisions. These decisions can increase productivity and revenue, leading to accelerated business growth and higher profits.

Man in Suit With Brain And Words Saying Business Intelligence

What Is Business Analytics?

Business analytics is the process of transforming data into insights to improve business decisions. It involves identifying new patterns and relationships with data mining. It uses quantitative and statistical analysis to design business models and conducts A/B and multi-variable testing based on findings.

Business analytics also forecasts future business needs, performance, and industry trends with predictive modelling. It involves using data analytics tools in pursuit of business insights. The main responsibility of business analytics professionals like you is to collect and analyse data. This data is then used to influence strategic decisions that your business makes.

Business Intelligence Focuses on Descriptive Analytics

Business intelligence is primarily focused on descriptive analytics. This involves the collection, storage, and analysis of past business data to better understand currently known information. BI is descriptive, telling you what’s happening now and what happened in the past to get your organisation to its current state.

One of the goals of BI is that it should be easy for relatively non-technical end users like you to understand. You should even be able to explore the data and create new reports. Dashboards and visualisation are popular tools under the business intelligence umbrella. They offer the quick and easy-to-digest data summaries that are at the heart of BI’s value proposition.

Business Analytics Focuses on Predictive Analytics

On the other hand, business analytics prioritises predictive analytics. This involves using data mining, modelling, and machine learning to determine the likelihood of future outcomes. Business analytics focuses on the overall function and day-to-day operation of the business.

The major difference between business intelligence and business analytics is the questions they answer. While BI provides a summary of historical and present data to show what has happened or what is currently happening, business analytics focuses on predictive analytics to provide insights into what could happen in the future. In reality, your business needs both business intelligence and business analytics—descriptive and predictive analytics—to succeed.

How Do BI and BA Apply To Business?

BI and BA serve as the sensory organs of your enterprise, guiding your team in setting direction and making decisions.

Applying BI and BA in the real world

In practice, BI and BA are integral to various sectors. Companies such as American Express, Chipotle, Netflix, and Walmart utilise BI and BA for diverse purposes. These include the creation of new products, monitoring operational effectiveness, generating original programming ideas, and deciphering customer purchasing behaviours.

BI and BA can centralise data stored in multiple disparate systems, identify issues, trends, and opportunities, and then delve into the underlying data for further insight. These tools can structure data in a way that allows for the extraction of insights. From there, succinct, clear, and actionable reports and data visualisations can be created and disseminated to key stakeholders.

BI and BA Use-Case Scenarios?

Numerous use-case scenarios exist for BI and BA. For example, many BI systems incorporate AI and other capabilities as part of BA. This includes AI-powered image-recognition technology, as utilised by companies like Coca-Cola, to detect when their product images are posted online. BI tools can enhance inventory control and manage the supply chain more effectively.

They can identify and eliminate operational bottlenecks and automate routine tasks. These tools can also provide your company with a competitive advantage by helping you discover new opportunities and construct smarter strategies. You can use the data to identify market trends and help enhance profit margins for your company.

Business Intelligence And Analytics Examples

Several companies have leveraged BI to excel in the market and create their benchmark. They use BI to profile buyers, monitor operational efficiency, develop new payment service products, merge customer feedback with actual behaviour, understand customer purchasing patterns, formulate and validate original programming ideas, maximise profits, and combat inappropriate content on their platform, among other applications.

BI is continually evolving and improving. Trends such as AI, cloud analytics, collaborative BI, and embedded BI are changing how you can use expansive data sets and make decisions. BI software and systems provide options suited to your specific business needs. They include comprehensive platforms, data visualisation, embedded software applications, location intelligence software and self-service software built for non-tech users.

Laptop With Business Analytics On Graphs

Determine Your Business Intelligence and Analytics Needs

Size and Age of the Organisation

The size and age of your organisation can influence your BI and analytics requirements. Larger, more established organisations often grapple with intricate data environments, necessitating a BI solution capable of managing this complexity. Conversely, smaller or newer organisations may require a more adaptable solution that can evolve with them.

The ideal BI solution should not only cater to your current data environment but also be flexible enough to accommodate future needs. This includes supporting custom coding and third-party charting libraries, enabling users to query their own data, create visualisations and reports and share their findings.

Present vs Future Focus

Your organisation’s focus, whether it’s managing daily operations or planning for future growth, will also shape your BI and analytics needs. If your focus is more on the present, you’ll likely be interested in using data to manage operations, optimise workflow, and achieve business goals.

A BI solution that allows for the presentation of data in interactive visualisations, dashboards, and reports, and supports single-screen views of metrics would be beneficial. Conversely, if your focus is more on the future, you’ll likely be interested in using data to make predictions and develop strategies.

A BI solution that supports augmented analytics features and enables live connectivity for direct querying against databases would be more suitable.

New Analytics Strategy vs Existing Analytics Strategy

Whether you’re developing a new analytics strategy or improving an existing one, having a clear vision and plan is key. This includes identifying key players, conducting discovery sessions, and determining the analytics operating model. Your strategy should aim for predictive and prescriptive analytics, scalability, collaborative decision-making, and data security.

Creating a data culture within your organisation is also important. You’ll need to manage data requests, ensure data availability, and provide ongoing training. When choosing a BI solution, consider how it’ll fit into your overall data stack or architecture. The solution should be seen as an investment, and its selection should involve an evaluation phase, considering the level of implementation effort and cost.

The solution should align with your organisation’s future state roadmap or anticipated growth. Users should be trained on how to use the tool effectively. The use of BI and analytics can vary across different departments within your organisation, depending on their different stages of analytics maturity.

Therefore, having an agile analytics strategy in place is key. This strategy should promote individuals and collaboration, react to changes in scope or priority, and ensure communication with all key stakeholders.

Business Intelligence vs Business Analytics: What’s The Difference?

Difference Between Business Intelligence and Business Analytics

While BI and BA are both crucial for business operations, they serve distinct purposes. BI primarily addresses the immediate challenges of an organisation, utilising tools such as spreadsheets, online analytical processing, business activity monitoring software, and data mining software to generate records.

These records, encompassing aspects like purchase patterns, product demands, sales graphs, and customer information, aid in immediate decision-making. Conversely, BA is more statistically inclined, employing quantitative tools for forecasting and strategising future growth. It focuses on the impending challenges of an organisation.

BA tools perform functions like correlational analysis, regression analysis, factor analysis, forecasting analysis, text mining, image analytics, and more. The choice between BI and BA may depend on factors such as the size and age of your organisation.

Descriptive vs Predictive

Descriptive analytics, a component of BI, is the most basic form of analytics. It summarises historical and present data to provide a clear picture of past and current events. Descriptive analytics employs data aggregation and data mining to reveal trends and patterns. Examples of descriptive analytics include financial statement analysis, trend identification, market research, and reporting on progress toward Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Predictive analytics, however, is a more advanced form of analytics.

It utilises probabilities, data mining, predictive modelling, and machine learning to make assessments of future occurrences. It identifies patterns in historical data to pinpoint risks and opportunities across various industries and aspects of a business. Predictive analytics can provide a competitive edge by informing your decision-making process. There’s also a third type of analytics, known as prescriptive analytics.

This is the most advanced form of analytics, using a variety of statistical methods not just to predict future events but also to suggest actions to benefit from the predictions. This form of analytics enables optimisation, simulation, and decision modelling, providing the best possible analysis for your business decisions and actions.

The use of data analytics is becoming increasingly crucial in business decision-making. According to a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, companies that use data analytics are 23 times more likely to outperform competitors in terms of new customer acquisition. This underscores the power and potential of using data analytics for business success.

Business Man Working On Monitors

Why use Business Intelligence Tools?

In the modern business landscape, the significance of BI tools is escalating. These tools are instrumental for companies of all sizes to gain a competitive advantage.

Ease of Operations

BI tools can transform intricate business data into actionable insights, facilitating superior business decisions. They can generate comprehensible reports with visualisations such as charts, graphs, and tables, simplifying data interpretation and expediting decision-making processes. Moreover, BI tools can automate operational and administrative tasks, leading to time and cost savings and minimising human error. They can also identify operational inefficiencies in manufacturing, operations, and sales, thereby enhancing profitability and reducing business uncertainties.

Scalability, Availability, and Security

BI tools are not only scalable and accessible but also secure. They provide robust security measures, frameworks, and ready-made compliance, allowing data managers to concentrate on the intricacies of data governance. BI tools also facilitate real-time monitoring, ensuring swift threat mitigation.

The security aspect of BI is crucial for earning client trust. In terms of scalability, BI tools can be customised to cater to your organisation’s unique needs, improving decision-making and outcomes and leading to substantial long-term savings. They enable the integration and analysis of data from diverse sources, providing a comprehensive view of business operations, pinpointing areas for enhancement, and uncovering new business opportunities.

Embeddability and Customisation

Another advantage of BI tools is their embeddability and customisation. Embedded BI integrates BI capabilities into existing business applications, portals, and processes, enabling end-users to utilise and self-serve BI features within other business applications. Custom dashboards, reports, visualisations, alerts, and workflows can be created to meet the specific needs of the users and roles. This level of customisation makes BI tools highly adaptable and relevant to your business objectives.

Harness the Power of Business Intelligence and Analytics

Business Intelligence and Business Analytics are more than just buzzwords. They are crucial tools that can transform raw data into actionable insights, guiding your organisation towards informed and strategic decision-making.

By employing both descriptive and predictive methods, you can gain a clear understanding of past and present operations while proactively strategising for the future. Whether your focus is on refining current operations or future growth, both BI and BA can support your objectives.

As an investment in your organisation’s future, the right BI and BA strategies can lead to improved efficiency, identified trends and opportunities, and ultimately, increased revenue and growth. Let BI and BA illuminate the path to your business success.


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