Every business gathers some raw data. Business intelligence (BI) is the process of converting that data into information the business can use for decisions making purposes. BI solutions provide you insights into business performance, commonly focused on measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Using BI tools, you can get a clear picture of your business performance and make tweaks to your current campaigns and processes. The BI solutions in the analytics and intelligence segment aim to give you a competitive edge in the market. Read the full software guide...
Business intelligence software helps businesses gather, sort, source, integrate and analyze data into actionable intelligence for better-informed business decisions. The software usually collects data from within the company as well as external sources and then transforms, re-structures and analyzes the data. This data can then be accessed via the software as reports, analytics and data visualizations.
The right business intelligence software not only improves decision-making but also helps businesses identify market trends, problem areas and opportunities, optimize business processes and improve operational efficiency while responding quickly to unforeseen situations.
Often, business intelligence software combines a variety of data management, data analysis, data discovery and reporting tools. Some notable features include online analytical processing (OLAP), predictive analytics, data mining, data quality management, data visualization, text analytics and the ability to extract, transform and load (ETL) data.
BI software is no longer used just by IT professionals, as with the developments of new user-friendly applications, those with less technical knowledge can now effectively analyze data using the software.
Although most BI platforms are recognized as more important for small businesses, any company, regardless of size and industry, can benefit from using one. Business intelligence software does not only help with important decision making and improving performance processes, they also help companies and organizations minimize risk, lower expenses, increase profits and improve business results and performance.
Since BI tools also collect customer information, such as activities and preferences, businesses are also better able to understand them and create effective strategies and solutions for complete customer satisfaction.
Business intelligence software has many use cases for different businesses and comes with various features and functions, ranging from basic data management and reporting to more advanced features like data mining.
One of the main functions of business intelligence is data management, which involves the archiving and indexing of data gathered from different data sources according to certain defined algorithms.
This data is then loaded into a specific platform—such as a data warehouse, containers and spreadsheets. The spreadsheets are accessible through the platform and are integrated with popular spreadsheet software.
Intelligence software for businesses also serves as a platform for reporting. The platform makes the process easier as data is presented in a visual, easy to digest format through dashboards, customizable scorecards and other visualizations that make even the most complicated data easier to understand.
Digital dashboards use graphical representations or data visualization techniques that users can access and view in real-time. Tools for data visualization can create visual representations of data or sets of data in a matter of minutes. The query and report type of business analytics software can perform querying, reporting, filtering, displaying and sorting tasks.
There are also analytics tools primarily for use by management and executives to monitor and manage business performance and results. The main objective of this feature is to ensure goals and KPIs are efficiently achieved and are often referred to as corporate performance management software.
Business intelligence software is either cloud-based or locally hosted and the software you choose is dependent on your businesses existing infrastructure and use case for the software.
For businesses that operate with a smaller or mobile employee base, cloud-based solutions are more ideal for analyzing real-time data, as information can be gathered through mobile devices and web browsers.
Some small businesses prefer to use self-service business intelligence software, which is designed to help them perform all essential management, data gathering and analysis and other essential tasks without needing any highly technical background or advanced features.
Business intelligence software can also be more specialized, namely for businesses in sales and marketing, business and financial services. Each business has a different use case for the software, whether it be gathering information on customer trends and purchasing patterns, defining new strategies for future growth or analyzing financial markets for valuable data.
Choosing the most efficient business intelligence software is not easy, as there are many features and functions available that may be too advanced or not necessary for your business's needs. You should consider the required features, the scalability and the functions that your business requires from the software.
Business Intelligence solutions often combine a broad set of features into one application. Almost every product comes with some features for data management, data discovery, data analysis and reporting. What features you need depend on your data volume, data collection process and how you want to manage and analyze data.
For instance, if you collect data from various outside sources regularly, you may need advanced data management features like Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) to standardize and centralize data. Once this is done, you’ll need data mining features to identify patterns. At this stage, you may also use online analytical processing (OLAP) tools to analyze your multidimensional data from different points of view.
When the right criteria and strategy are defined, there are a number of features that should be considered for all businesses looking for business intelligence software:
The software you choose should support seamless integration with existing platforms and processes that your business is using. CRM and spreadsheet integration are common features in most solutions and will make it easier for business teams to collect, explore and sort data from different sources or locations.
Another important feature that should be considered when choosing business intelligence software is the user interface. When dealing with large amounts of data, it can be daunting, especially for those with less technical knowledge. Choosing software with an intuitive interface and platform will ensure that users can use the software effectively.
The software you choose should feature drop down functionality, filters, and search features to assist with filtering through large amounts of data and being able to find, organize and analyze the data you need straight away.
Business intelligence software needs to be able to create data visualizations based on compiled data in an easily digestible format for use in presentations and for the use of management and executives. The software can also generate reports based on the compiled data and be able to present them professionally.
Security is an important feature, especially for businesses that prefer a cloud-based option. Working with business intelligence software means handling large amounts of sensitive financial information. The ideal software should be equipped with an encryption system that can provide strong internal security and security features such as how the program supports varied menu options for different user groups or individuals, or if it provides role-based access and single sign-on features.
Ideally, the software you choose should have mobile functionality for access to the data at any time. The software should also integrate with existing software and platforms used already on both mobile and web browsers.
Predictive analytics is another important feature that lets users consider potential risks and opportunities before making a final decision. It is also important to consider the reporting capability of a product and to check whether the software provides multiple reporting options.
For instance, you may need custom and ad-hoc reporting capability, a dashboard for a real-time view of your operations and advanced visualization features for creating graphs and charts that are easy-to-read.
Other important considerations include self-service capability, mobility, ease-of-use and the integration capabilities of the product.
Companies and organizations should also find time to thoroughly research their software choice. Assessing reviews and testimonials can be helpful and free trials are available for a certain period. This way, it will be easier to determine whether the software is suitable and how it can help fulfill business goals.
Whether a company or organization is small or large, it can gain many benefits from using business intelligence software. In addition, more and more businesses are realizing the importance of business analytics and working with large data. They know what the software can do for their company and they recognize the benefits that come with it.
The main function of business intelligence is to help businesses understand the data and information that is compiled. Gathering large data and reliable insights in real-time and collaborating with team members, among others, can greatly aid in pinpointing and targeting areas of growth as well as those that need improvement. As such, teams are able to identify new trends and develop new strategies to further fuel growth.
Ad hoc reports are generated by the software, helping businesses gather relevant information almost instantly. This helps teams act on potential crises and issues before they become serious issues. As the process is automated, time and money can be saved as it eliminates manual browsing and allows users to get the answers they need almost as soon as they ask the questions.
The analytics feature of business intelligence software gives users the capability to immediately gather and process data in real-time. In addition, teams can work with dynamic data, providing regular, instant updates on relevant trends. Teams can then access and use analytics features simultaneously.
Business intelligence software comes with dashboards and other visualization features to make complex information and data compiled easily understandable and digestible by all employees.
Visualized data like graphs, charts, infographics and videos offer a more interesting and exciting way of getting relevant information across different users and audiences (i.e. managers and executives).
Predicting and anticipating events can help ensure the continuous growth, improvement and profit of a business. This is possible through predictive analysis, in which data can be compiled and analyzed to determine customers’ recurring actions, decisions and behaviors. This can provide insights on what the company needs to do to stay flexible, agile and efficient.
As business intelligence software is automated and data is gathered and assessed in real-time, it helps businesses save time, money and resources as well as streamline existing processes. Repetitive tasks can also be reassigned and resources allocated to more proactive areas.
Overall, business intelligence software provides businesses with detailed insights into the data and information that is compiled. The data can be managed, analyzed and turned into actionable intelligence, which can be used to help businesses forecast for future events, develop new strategies and streamline processes throughout the business.
|A/B Testing||Run split tests for websites, emails, ads and more by serving different versions of the content to different users.|
|Analytics||Analyze and gain insights from data including web traffic, campaign conversions, sensoric output and more.|
|API||Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are programmatic intersections with external products or platforms that allow for custom integrations with your own solutions or other solutions you are using.|
|Conversion Tracking||Track signups, purchases or user actions to measure the effectiveness of marketing or advertising campaigns. This is often used to optimize inbound or outbound marketing efforts and improve sales conversions through a range of online channels.|
|Customer Management||Manage customer databases and/or track outstanding shipments, payments and more.|
|Dashboards||Provide easily accessible, custom data and real time feedback.|
|Data Export||Exporting functionality can be used to streamline the migration of data sets and information across systems, platforms or applications.|
|Data Import||Importing functionality allows you to use data sets from other systems or platforms to cut down on data entry requirements or to more easily migrate records from similar applications you have used in the past.|
|Data Visualization||Data visualization features render a visual interpretation of data sets through the use of charts, infographics and other visual cues generally in form of a reporting dashboard.|
|External Integrations||Integrations with other software products or platforms to improve efficiency and compatibility across systems.|
|Forecasting||Forecast upcoming expenses, sales, revenue, user levels, etc. through the use of predictive methods and past data.|
|Inventory Tracking||Stay on top of inventory levels, to manage the storing, reordering or production of stock items.|
|Keyword Tracking||Track keywords for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or item tagging purposes.|
|Link Tracking||Track link performance to your own or to competitor websites.|
|Multi-User||Supports more than just one user account and generally allows for collaboration with colleagues.|
|Notifications||Includes notification support and sends you alerts with information on important events and other time sensitive instances. For example through push notifications on mobile phones or email notifications.|
|Project Management||Manage projects from conception through the planning stage to delivery and post-project reporting phases. This allows organisation teams to organise resources, plan budgets and improve efficiency in the delivery of project objectives.|
|Reports||Allow users to collate large amounts of performance data into a variety formats.|
|SEO||Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the process of producing content or optimizing and promoting webpages to improve their ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).|
|Supplier Management||Manage suppliers and purchases required in the day-to-day operation of a business.|
|Visualization||Provides graphic representation of data sets.|
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