“Data is the new oil” is a phrase that can be heard across every corner of the market, it has been said to the point of absurdity. But it still rings true, data is a valuable asset for any business and company, and acquiring data has never been simpler. With a plurality of tools and software solutions dedicated to that specific act, even the least tech savvy entrepreneur can gain information on their consumers to better understand them.
We have come full circle, and the question today is how to use that enormous amount of data, how to put forth the information gained into a better operation. That’s the issue we aim to solve today, and the answer seems simple enough: Business Intelligence.
What Is Business Intelligence (BI)?
So, let’s begin with the basics. Business intelligence can be a mindset and a way of carrying a company, as well as the technology that allows businesses to gather, sort, analyze and contextualize data from their operations. This includes the use of business intelligence tools, solutions and added features in software dedicated to business. These transform raw data into digestible and relevant reports that aid the informed decision making process.
BI features and softwares usually have 4 subsystems or parts. A data storage, or a digital warehouse that stores the company’s information in a centralized manner. This data is easily accessible to the business analytics tools that crawl through it. This process is supervised and controlled by a business performance management feature that tracks the progress. And lastly, it comes with an user interface, in the form of a dashboard, that helps with one of the most practical aspects of these tools, the data visualization.
BI solutions are an incredible asset in the current market. With the increase of information to analyze, in our “big data” world, it has become impossible to go through so much input in a manual or analogical way. Since the quantity of information is only growing, many companies have employed the support of BI, most powered by artificial intelligence, in order to understand the increasing amount of data in a fast and economical manner. Data-driven, business decision making is what separates a relevant and competitive company from its rivals.
Where Is BI Used?
It could be easier to ask: where isn’t BI used? every part and step of a business operation can be improved and optimized using BI, from sales to marketing, passing by the finance and operation departments. If there are business goals set in place, BI can help.
The core benefits of using such a tool are simple: quantitative analysis in regards to tasks and projects’ profitability, measuring performance, KPIs and metrics, acquiring client insight, and finding possible areas that need some tweaking.
Different areas and positions can gather different insights from BI. Data scientists and data analysts are the most obvious individuals that benefit from these systems, they can use this centralized information to understand where new business opportunities lay, and recommend the best course of action to their leaders.
The finance team can learn valuable information about the factors that are impacting their company’s profit margins and losses. By taking into account financial data, with knowledge from the operations, marketing and sales departments, they can broaden their contextual horizons and get a bigger picture when pitching actions.
The marketing team can better track the metrics from specific marketing initiatives from a central digital warehouse. BI provides a real-time tracking solution that allows for better measurements of every single effort the team carries out, and this is invaluable knowledge for future campaigns. Visibility of how each project and actions influences their performance can be shared with the necessary departments, creating a more collaborative work space, in which each department nourishes their co-teams.
Sales and operational managers are regularly using BI dashboards and KPIs, in order to get a fast view of complex data, like how big was the influence of a discount in the overall sales, customer behaviour and value, sales representatives performance, and the status of the sales pipelines. Operation managers can save enormous amounts of time and resources by using BI to analyze supply chain metrics, and see if there’s a way of making it a more streamlined effort, and how to do so. Every department can benefit in at least some way from BI, the only limits are creative thinking, and a problem-solving mindset.
The Value of Business Intelligence
The key value of BI is its capacity to present data driven decisions, the value it gives us is knowledge about the internal ins-and-outs of a business. It grants the ability to transform large sets of data into key information that drives positive actions for the bottom line of a company or operation.
The way BI tools do this is by evaluating data from the past, present and future estimations, and then giving certain analysis. The descriptive, predictive and prescriptive reports help companies in their day to day business. The reports can deliver information on:
- Getting a clear picture on the current state of operations, cost effective budgets, via dashboards, reporting tools, and scorecards.
- Visualization of problematic areas and ongoing issues.
- Projections of events and asset performance via data mining, forecast estimates and machine learning.
- Reasons for taking specific actionable insights.
- Optimizing, and even simulating decisions, to acquire the best possible profitability.
- Contrasting current performance against competitors, and figuring out one’s own competitive advantage.
How to Improve Your Business Intelligence to Make Your Company a Leader
There are many solutions available in today’s market. AI and BI can sound a little bit scary if you never dealt with them before, but these tools are pretty straightforward. There are multiple ways of implementing the Business Intelligence mindset, combining softwares with data sources like Google Analytics.
Even small companies, and entrepreneurs can gain valuable insight from these solutions. The key concepts to look out for are the following:
- Data analysis: the basis of any BI tool, the result is the extraction of trends and insights from past and current affairs.
- Data mining: The building block for the basis, there are many ways of doing this, and most of them are not hard to implement. It amounts to the use of statistics, data sets (even API with CRM tools), and machine learning to uncover trends in big data, and with those patterns one can gain a deeper understanding of multiple factors. Like customer behaviour or market forecasting.
- Dashboards: All of the above presented in a clean and intuitive way. You can see at a simple glance, the KPIs, the analytic metrics, and any relevant information that goes into decision making.
- Model Visualization: This feature turns reports into charts, or other visual aids to simplify the incorporation of knowledge.
These features are still developing and evolving. Most software solutions that can carry out these tasks are powered by AI and managed in a cloud based format, where they can be easily accessible by every collaborator, regardless of geography.
Why is Business Intelligence so important for business?
Great talent, and brilliant managers are what drives a business forward. But with so many variables and information required to succeed, they need support.
BI allows for a deeper connection and collaboration across every inch of a business.
Managing your own department, with a greater context helps make better decisions, and it sets a collaborative environment, where everyone is on the same team. The culture of a company can benefit from managing their information in a more transparent way, and with easier access. Knowledge silos are a thing of the past.
The speed these systems have can help gain and edge when closing quarterly reports, and planning. BI is a valuable asset when managing budgets and resources, it can automate mundane and time consuming tasks. And these features work on a team of 10, as well as a team of 10.000. Scalability is supported across many softwares, and some can even include external collaborators to participate in certain ways.
The reporting features can be used in multiple ways, and allow for crossexaminig many variables. It can easily analyze the performance of teams while working with a certain client, or use multiple layers of data sources to conduct more detailed analysis.
These visual aids and reporting functionality empower businesses to understand their current state of operations, and even compare it to the competitor’s. Business intelligence is taking all of these and improving the state of a company, further developing new projects and growing on a commercial level. The support BI gives when making data driven decisions can be seen in a company’s differentiation and improved margins. They can even help with streamlining the daily operations, by shining light on issues that may escape the naked eye.
BI can also drive up employee and customer satisfaction, by analyzing the feedback they give, by focusing on small problems that are a constant across the company, but may not have been seen as important enough to report by the talent pool. BI can even help with career opportunities and offering training to valuable employees that simply need some education for exceling inside the business. As well as analyzing customer behavior and seeing real time data analytics on their interactions with the company.
And the most prominent way BI helps businesses is by improving their bottom line, and ramping up profitability.
How Business Intelligence has transformed marketing and sales?
With the advances in AI and BI marketing and sales professionals can use actionable intelligence while tracking down customers’ purchases, the performance of products, and optimizing marketing channels to drive conversions. BI can help by reducing hours wasted in manual tasks that could be automated, drive up sales, and track digital marketing campaigns to the most basic detail.
Business Intelligence in Sales
Competition is more fierce than ever, but when implementing a BI and AI software, professional businesses can keep track of products and deliveries, giving real time feedback to their sales representatives and a better service to their customers.
The knowledge BI grants can be employed to think about what is the best sales strategy. For example, it could help a business drive up sales to their existing customers and work on client retention. This is more cost effective, and more profitable than client acquisition. BI tools can help keep track of what their existing clients are buying, what their behaviour related to the brand is, and with that information they can offer new possibilities by targeting them with sales opportunities.
BI can also make informed and data driven estimations, which can lower the chances of incurring in mistakes while planning, budgeting and managing stock. Ordering the right amount of product can lower costs of warehouses, produce loss, and optimize time sensitive delivery. BI solutions can even help with understanding how customers respond to sales campaigns, supporting the allocation of more resources into better working campaigns.
Business Intelligence in Marketing
When thinking about marketing agencies, and digital marketing campaigns BI can play a vital role in many of the key aspects of planning and research.
When trying to understand and go through enormous amounts of data there are some hurdles, like attempting to find actionable trends. BI can extrapolate patterns from big data, in order to pose the right marketing questions to define agency metrics and KPIs relevant to its goals.
One of the most important things in marketing is to understand and define the target audience, the message set forth needs to be shared at the right time to the right people. BI software can gather customer data from pertinent demographics through many online platforms and report a unified view of their buying patterns, preferred products, age, location, gender and more.
And all of these marketing insights can be easily processed into reports, graphs and infographics. When dealing with time sensitive decisions, you need to be able to present the knowledge obtained in a quick and efficient manner. If your agency needs to spend days going through complex and sub-standard reports, those days are lost on the business side to more effective competitors.
Data-driven Marketing Goals and Decisions
BI can do wonders for digital agencies. These sorts of tools can allow marketers to get deep insights into client’s preferences, wishes, and buying attitudes. With these information agencies can create more efficient marketing campaigns, with a precise target, and get better results.
Augmenting the marketing efforts, and boosting sales information collaboration can help to optimize their campaigns. When asking the right questions to a larger data set, you can improve the definition of KPIs that are relevant to current offered services and projects. With data like this you can even back your pitches and fee negotiations, driving the value and profit of the professional service provided.
Another side of this BI knowledge is the possibility of making data driven decisions, and sharing with stakeholders and executives the reasons behind these decisions. Creating a more transparent climate can improve morale and foster a better sense of collaboration.
Optimized Marketing Campaigns
BI solutions can track and analyse the performance of campaigns in real time, and even compare them to the historical data from the agency. These comparative analysis features can support the optimization of current and future projects and marketing campaigns. An agency could be able to see exactly how it’s projects perform, gaining the visibility of knowing what services are the most profitable, and which ones could stop being offered due to being costly and yielding poor results.
Some marketing strategies require a lot of work, a lot of time and effort, and the logical conclusion would be to have results reflect that. But maybe there’s something just outside the scope of human comprehension that has a negative effect.
BI can isolate what’s the problem and allow the agency to solve it. Maybe this type of project needs longer delivery dates, and that would suffice in making cost efficient. Maybe subcontracting a part of it turns out to be more effective. BI is the difference between having a hunch of what doesn’t work, and knowing for sure, and being able to change it for the better. After using profitable and predictive analytics, an agency could become more profitable and better at optimizing budget, pricing, and resource allocation.
Rapid Reporting Process and Quality Insights
Some of the best marketing actions were done in the knick of time, let’s remember Oreo’s social media blast, you can still dunk in the dark tweet: A blackout, an idea, a quick execution, and a gigantic public response. Brilliant and relevant. The relevant part is a staple of good, and meanful marketing actions, but to be relevant you need to be quick and keep up with everythings that’s going on.
Many agencies depend on reliable, instant data gathering in order to generate the best possible actions, but the problem is that now we have an astounding amount of data that needs to be analyzed and reported back. The time lost in between getting information and processing it into reports is valuable, and such large data sets need a lot of analysis in order to be managed. BI, powered by AI, can solve this issue with automated reporting capabilities.
Dashboards, infographics, and even Gantt’s charts can give a quick, real time, view of an ongoing campaign, providing valuable insight to keep working in an informed manner. And thus, team members are capable of recommending changes and corrections while the project is still alive and ongoing. These features also allow for notification setups and alarms.
At COR we have a long history of working with marketing agencies, we value their work in the greatest esteem and we wish to empower them to take action and change the marketing industry for the better. With a better understanding of their internal operations, with better profits, and a greater appreciation for their business capabilities. If you want to improve your business intelligence, we encourage you to do as our successful partners, and request a demo today!