If I were to ask you, "what is Business Intelligence," what would you say?

Maybe you would think of a CEO sitting in the corner office in a huge organization looking at complex charts and graphs. This person has a huge budget with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence. Business Intelligence is their big, expensive competitive advantage.

Maybe you remember a time when you slaved for hours crunching numbers in Excel and building Pivot Tables. Or maybe you just write off the topic as something that is a good idea but not that helpful in practice, at least not for a company of your size.

(If you already know what BI is and need help need help managing your data and BI solution, check out our BI service RapidBI).

What is Business Intelligence: Definition

We have a few common conceptions of BI, Let's start with a good definition.

What is Business Intelligence: BI is a technology driven process for analyzing data and generating actionable insights for business leaders. This process involves pulling data from multiple enterprise systems (ERPs, CRMs), cleaning the data for analysis, running queries against the data, visualizing the data in dashboards, and reporting.

Here is an example of how we implemented BI for a logistics company.

The ultimate aim is to enable leaders to make informed decisions based on data rather than intuition.

Beyond that, BI tools allows companies to have a "Single Source of Truth." More often than not companies are not suffering from a dearth of information but are rather drowning in it. There are dashboards in just about every tool you may use on a daily basis. So why do you need another?

The answer is so that all of the relevant data is pulled together, analyzed, and reported on in one authoritative place. This allows leaders to see the whole picture of their company or slice of the company, see connections they would not have seen otherwise, and make more informed decisions.

What is Business Intelligence: Examples

Now that we have answered the question, "what is business intelligence," we need to ask, "what information do you need to see?" In other words, what are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) - the key metrics that will reliably tell you if your business is succeeding or failing.

Let's take a look at some KPIs for a few main sectors and how they might be visualized in a BI dashboard.

What is Business Intelligence: Do more :)

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

BI for Operations

If you are an Chief Operations Officer or are leading the operational side of your company, here are a few KPIs that you may want to track:

BI for Sales

If you are in sales, you probably obsess over the big number - "how much have we sold?" But there are a few other KPIs to consider:

BI for Marketing

Marketing is a great place to find deep BI insights. With so much of the marketing landscape is digital and traceable the question is not "do I have the data," but "what are the best questions to ask of the data?"

What is Business Intelligence: Dashboard example

Photo by Stephen Dawson on Unsplash

BI for Financial Department

If you want to know how a business is doing, look at its financials. Is a company financially responsible? Is it growing and worth investing in? Layering BI tools over your financial software helps answer these questions and draw deep insights from your financial data.

Business Intelligence Made Easy

We have answered the question, "what is business intelligence" and taken a look at key metrics that you should be tracking with BI tools, but we haven't covered how you get there.

Right now you probably have access to all the data you need to produce each of these KPIs, but the issue is you are not a database engineer and you don't have one on staff. You don't have the time or skill set necessary to integrate with your system's APIs, and it would be a waste of your time to gain that skill set.

You don't have to become a software engineer, Level 12 can be your fractional BI team.

RapidBI is our service to help small and medium sized businesses unleash the power of data in their organizations. Being data driven is no longer only for the big companies with a robust IT team.

With RapidBI we can quickly access your data, build your data warehouse (if needed), feed it into a BI solution that is easy to use (even for non-technical people), and build out your dashboards. But we don't stop there. Once your solution is up and running, we will work with you to build new reports and troubleshoot as needed.

If you need help with your Business Intelligence solutions, click here to learn more about RapidBI, or reach out to us.