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Business Intelligence: How to Gather and Use

Last updated: November 9, 2016

The modern business world is highly dependent on data and business intelligence is a process by which data regarding the competition is gathered and used effectively for growth. A business can benefit greatly if the decision makers use business intelligence for making major decisions.

A large number of tools, applications and methodologies are used to collect data from internal and external sources. The collected data is then prepared for analysis and developed. After this queries are run against the data and reports are created along with dashboards and data visualization to make the results available to the decision makers in an organization.

Benefits of Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence can be effectively used to accelerate and improve decision making, increasing operational efficiency, optimizing internal business processes, driving new revenues and gaining an advantage over the industry competitors.

At the same time, companies can identify market trends and problems that need to be addressed.

What Kind of Data is Collected?

The data collected with the help of BI systems can be both historical as well as new information. This, in turn, enables BI analysts to the strategic and tactical decision-making process. Earlier BI tools were mainly used by data analysts and other IT professionals who produced reports based on the analyses.

However, now business executives and other decision makers are making use of BI software themselves. This is due to the development of self-service BI and data discovery tools.

BI is usually stored in data warehouses or for smaller data bytes data marts are used. Nowadays, Hadoop systems are also being used with BI architectures for data analytics and BI.

However, before being used in BI applications, raw data from different sources is integrated, consolidated and cleared with the help of data quality and data integration tools. This ensures that the information being used is consistent and accurate.

BI teams consist of a combination of BI developers, BI architects, business analysts and data management professionals.

The Different Applications Used in BI

The various applications used in BI include ad hoc analysis and querying, OLAP or online analytical processing, enterprise reporting, real-time BI, mobile BI, cloud and software as service BI, operational BI, Locational intelligence, open source BI and collaborative BI.

The use of designing charts and other infographics is also made using data visualization software. At the same time, tools for building BI dashboards and performance scorecards displaying the visualized data on business metrics and key performance indicators is also conducted.

BI applications and tools are also available online, and you can buy them separately from different vendors, or purchase a comprehensive platform from a single supplier.

various methods inBusiness Intelligence

#1. Deliver Information Where it is Required

There has been a major increase in worker mobility in the last two decades, and this is why BI tools need to be used on the mobile devices of these workers. It is important for workers to be able to access real-time data anytime and anywhere. It is important that the workers have the ability to process data on their mobile devices.

If, as the head of your company, you want to keep your customers and win new ones then it is crucial that you deliver information to your team in this manner.

#2. Have an Eye on the Future

The trouble with most management information is that it is focused on the past, rather than the future. Although historical data has its uses, it is not practical to manage an organization based on this data alone.

More and more importance is being given to predictive analytics nowadays. This kind of data helps the decision makers in asking questions, exploring data and then making education decisions.

Most predictive tools available today have the ability to monitor events and then automatically take action. For instance, such a system can predict what events can make a client switch to your competitors. The system will automatically act to discourage them from doing so.

#3. Make More Use of Unstructured Data

Earlier most of the BI data was attained from structured data like sales figures. However, nowadays, the most crucial information is hidden in a huge pile of unstructured data like word documents, emails, images and PDF files.

It is necessary to analyze unstructured data for some purposes like spotting trends that indicate fraudulent behavior or to gauge the attitude of the customers and employees towards the organization.

#4. Visual Representation of Information

Visualization is the process of converting raw data into a graphic format. As you know, visual representation of information is always more efficient in embedding it in the psyche of the audience.

In a visual representation of information, you can make liberal use of pictograms and graphs. This helps to identify trends, patterns, and outliers that tell you about yourself and your surroundings.

Keep in mind that good visualization is the representation of data that helps the decision maker to see what would otherwise not be obvious. With this method, you can get answers to some crucial questions.

These issues include – what data do you have? What do you want to know about the data? Which visualization technique should be used? Does what you see make sense to you?

#5. Mine Social Media for Intelligence

There is a load of information on forums, blogs, and news sites, but you need the right systems to gather this information and put it to optimum use. Social media sites are useful in helping you monitor the activities of your rivals.

The first thing you need to do is to analyze a wide range of relevant sources to get a comprehensive picture of your company. For this, you need to sift through the data you get and categorize it which will remove all the noise in the background.

This method will provide accurate and useful information which will enable you to be a step ahead of your competitors. If you can get relatively accurate data, only then you can be considered to be an expert at monitoring social media.

Endnote

There are many other aspects of Business Intelligence because it is a relatively vast field. Of course, it is possible to conduct all the research and analysis pertaining to BI yourself, but this can be quite time-consuming and tedious.

A better idea is to outsource this responsibility to professionals specializing in this field. This is advisable because a BI team usually consists of many different professionals and employing them full time for your organization can also be cost prohibitive.

At the same time, BI professionals know their way about the various sources of data and what to look for in a heap of unstructured data. They are also the best people who can advise you regarding what needs to be done with the collected and analyzed data for the betterment of your organization.

Business Intelligence: How to Gather and Use
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