From HRIS to CRM to ERP, there are countless acronyms that make up the unique alphabet of business technology. Every business owner should be familiar with these acronyms that represent advanced software that is integral to running an efficient business. That said, there is one abbreviation that acts as the umbrella for all this software, and that’s BI.
BI — Business Intelligence — is the category that describes all of these niche software that shares one thing in common: the ability to consolidate, analyze and report information.
By definition, business intelligence is software that can harness the power of an organization's data to review, compare, sort and report this data in a way that is easy to understand and access.
BI enables businesses and brands to streamline processes, automate tasks, make workflows more productive and efficient, and allow teams to make educated decisions based on carefully collected and sorted data.
According to Software Advice, half of BI buyer prospects seek this software because they are in dire need of tools that will help them to better visualize their business’ data.
If your company is looking to invest in BI, there are a lot of things to consider. This isn’t limited to:
- What type of software your company will best benefit from
- The size of your company
- Your industry
- The number of staff you have & their capabilities
- Your company’s training abilities & so much more
To truly grasp the concept of BI and understand which business intelligence software will best suit your needs, it is integral that you consider the different elements of purchasing a BI, implementing it, and integrating it into your day to day processes.
What You Need to Know About Business Intelligence
Companies integrate business intelligence into their management strategies and daily workflows due to how it harnesses data, organizes it, and makes it accessible to a wide scope of key players in a company. According to Software Advice, there are over 100 companies selling business intelligence software and tools.
The concept behind BI is that decision-makers are able to organize, interpret, analyze and forecast data without the help of IT professionals.
In fact, this software is most commonly utilized by marketing executives, operation managers, financial managers and their teams to consolidate data, analyze reports, and streamline various processes.
BI provides businesses with the necessary tools to automate and sort information. This ensures access to consistent, up-to-date data throughout a company and helps make decisions, customer and staff relations, and tedious tasks infinitely more seamless.
4 Main Functions of BI
According to Forbes, 53% of companies are currently using big data for a multitude of purposes. There is some BI software that a company can integrate into their day to day, but they can be narrowed down to four main functions:
Analysis: To understanding, sort, and use data.
Monitoring: To follow and track data to apply it to future decisions.
Forecasting: To make educated estimates based on data, outcomes and more.
Reporting: To consolidate data and provide effective reports on findings that can explain the productivity of an action or campaign, and share them company-wide seamlessly.
Benefits of Integrating a BI:
There are countless benefits to adding a BI to your business’ software suite. This type of software boasts ample features that help companies save on costs, resources and time.
In fact, according to CIO, companies have reported that the time it takes them to make a data-based decision has improved by 47 percent since adopting a BI technology.
BI’s universally provide companies with:
- Accurate data for careful, better decision making
- Visualized data
- Updated and integral business insights
- Consolidated data on one platform
- Improved data communication and sharing
- Improved planning and analysis for streamlined processes
- Capabilities to make educated business forecasts
- Information and analysis to improve marketing and budgeting
Most BI Companies are Committed to:
By automating monotonous tasks and streamlining workflows, BI has paved the way for businesses to focus resources on creativity and business growth, rather than tedious tasks like data input. With BI, companies are able to attain, analyze and report on insights that help them enhance growth, increase profit and improve efficiency.
The purpose of BI — and the intent of companies selling BIO can be narrowed down to:
- Helping companies improve their operations
- Increasing revenue due to reduced resource costs and improved understanding of business plans
- Helping decision owners make more educated data-based decisions
- Giving companies a competitive edge
Who Uses BI?
There are a wide variety of industries that use BI, however, there are specific departments that thrive off of these software’s features. G2Crowd identifies these teams as:
- Sales Teams
- Marketing Teams
- Data Analysts
- Data Scientists
- Finance Teams
- Operations Teams
- Supply Chain Teams
Choosing the Right BI Integration for Your Company
There is no denying the value of effective BI, but every company is different, which means everyone has unique requirements when it comes to what they need from software for business growth and productivity.
Before choosing and implementing your BI, be sure to consider the following:
- What is the size of your company?
- What processes does your company need to streamline or automate?
- What are your goals?
- What will you be using BI for?
- Who on your team will use the software?
- Do you have any existing software to integrate or transition from?
- How much data input will be necessary?
- What customizations do you require?
- What is your budget?
- What will your training period look like?
- What are you looking to identify by centralizing and organizing data?
Collaborative Analytics in BI
As mentioned, BI consolidates and sorts a company’s data. Further advancements in business technology, however, have also brought the concept of shared data to the forefront in the form of collaborative analytics.
After all, while some companies may only require key data to be shared among higher up decision makers, other companies require data to be accessible for huge teams to manage, update and use to inform their day to day tasks.
The concept of collaborative analytics is not so much the scope of who has access to data, as most companies integrate BI to make data accessible throughout a large staff.
The larger concept at play, however, is remote access. This means that anyone can access this data from anywhere with no data limitations thanks to cloud integration.
Implementing Your BI
To make the most of your BI, you are going to want to keep your data simple, centralized, and connected to the cloud for easy access and unlimited storage.
According to Forbes, in 2018 alone more than 90 percent of sales & marketing teams found that Cloud BI played an integral role in getting their work done.
To effectively integrate your BI into your software suite, there are six main things your company will need to do:
- Prioritize Your Data
- Keep Your Data Accurate
- Effectively Prepare and Train Employees
- Set Reasonable Expectations
- Define Objectives
- Use Your BI to its Full Potential
A major element to consider when integrating BI is employee involvement. It is crucial that all those expected to use this tool are properly trained to ensure that they are able to input and interpret information effectively and accurately.
This system has the ability to have a significantly positive impact on your companies workflow if the implementation is cautious and involves everyone who it is supposed to benefit.
What Can Stand in the Way of BI Efficiency?
There is no denying that BI software offers tools that are essential for business success and growth. With that said, there are factors that, if not taken into consideration, can get in the way of the system’s productivity:
- Employees who are resistant to implement the system and learn how to utilize it.
- Poor quality data that is inaccurate or not relevant.
- A company’s inability to identify their processes and any holes in them.
As mentioned, before implementing a BI tool, it’s integral that your entire team is on board, understands how to use these systems, are prepared for the transition, and see the same possibility for growth. After all, BI features promise efficiency and productivity in all facets of data management.
Understanding Key BI Features
Budgeting With BI:
BI software makes budgeting seamless thanks to its centralization of data. Considering that this information is up to date, all in one place, and is easily accessible, only makes sense that your BI will provide the tools and resources necessary to apply these findings to a budget.
To make this data organization seamless, a lot of BI software has excel integration to help create tangible spreadsheets that will make it easier to interpret data and apply it for any budgeting needs.
A BI’s budgeting feature is commonly used for:
- Payroll management
- Revenue management
- Expense management
- Balance sheets
- Cash flow management
Reporting With BI:
BI allows your company to not only track data, but report and project based on findings and analysis. This key function of the software is to help decision-makers identify how your company is performing and where improvements can be made whether it be in resource management, sales, tracking or overhead.
This software’s reporting feature is thorough as it will use multiple resources like various software and tools to aggregate data and extract important findings.
BI’s reporting features make it possible to gain better control over your data collection, automate processes, and make more educated decisions based on real-time, consistent data.
Forecasting With BI
Your BI won’t only help you analyze data to report findings, it will also use this data to make educated projections — in other words, your BI enables your business to forecast revenue, productivity and more.
Forecasting will help your business to identify what you’re selling, who you're selling it to, and when you will close a sale. Essentially, it will allow you to apply data and streamline processes to form a succinct and educated business growth model.
BI helps a company to acquire the right data and provides the tools necessary to understand and interpret this data to inform decisions and workflows. It ensures that data is accurate, up to date and universal across your company to prevent multiple people from inputting different findings.
Ultimately, this results in trustworthy, concrete data that can be used for various business needs, projections and analysis.
BAASS’s BI Integrations
Sage Enterprise Intelligence:
An example of an effective BI software is Sage Enterprise Intelligence. Sage provides A variety of management solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. The software’s suite offers various solutions to effectively help businesses manage processes not limited to payroll, accounting, customer relationships and finances.
Sage’s solutions include:
- Sage HRMS (HR management)
- Sage People (Automated workflows & insights)
- Sage 300 (Finance, operations, sales & service integration)
- Sage CRM (customer management solution)
- Sage X3 (Scalable operations)
- Sage Business Cloud Financials (Salesforce integration to connect sales, accounting, banking, invoicing & payments)
Sage 300 & DataSelf
Business intelligence is defined by its data capabilities, so much so that there are school programs dedicated to BI data analysis.
As a BI software, Sage 300 naturally boasts reporting features. It also offers the integration of DataSelf Analytics for elevated reporting capabilities.
DataSelf Analytics provides your company with the information and tools needed to interpret your data effectively. The integration provides extensive reporting and makes data collection and organization seamless.
The major benefits of DataSelf integration include:
- Easily accessible data any time, anywhere
- It’s a single source for reporting
- High speed
- User friendliness
BI360 is another powerful corporate performance management (CPM) suite that allows companies to integrate their BIO with ERPS like Sage 300.
Your company will be able to implement B1360 in a fraction of the time it would take to integrate any other BI suite on the market.
- IT Management
- Finance Management
- Business Management
- Data Warehousing
The Conclusive Value of BI
As a software, BI is able to harness the power of an organization’s data to streamline and automate processes and tasks. This makes analyzing, sorting, reporting and making based on this data not only possible but easily accessible.
As a result, BI is able to help companies cut costs and redirect resources to ensure maximum productivity and output, giving a company the tools necessary for ample business growth.