What are the basics every retailer should know about business intelligence and the data that can help their operations? Let’s explore this topic in-depth.
Business intelligence (BI) is a technology-driven process for analyzing data and producing actionable information to help corporate executives, business managers and other employees or constituents make better business decisions. BI encapsulates a wide diversity of tools, applications and methodologies that enable organizations to capture data from their internal systems as well as external sources. The next step in the process is to prepare the data to be analyzed and develop and run queries against the data. The final step in the development of BI is to determine how to depict findings by creating reports, dashboards and visualizations to make the analyzed results available to decision makers and operational staff.
The potential benefits of business intelligence programs include faster and better decision making; improving internal business processes; better operational efficiency; improved and potentially new revenue streams; and gaining a competitive advantage in the market. BI systems can also help enterprises identify market trends and identify pain points that may need to be addressed directly.
Business intelligence may include historical information as well as new data gathered from business systems as it is generated. This enables the process to support both strategic and tactical decision-making programs. In the early days of BI, tools were primarily used by IT professionals to produce reports. In the modern age, many business executives are accessing BI data themselves because they have access to self-service BI interfaces. BI programs can also incorporate advanced analytics such as predictive analytics, text mining and big data analysis.
BI can be applied to support a diverse range of business decisions. One example of basic operating decisions that might be informed by BI is product positioning or pricing. Strategic business decisions include goals, priorities and operational oversight at the broadest level. Generally, BI is most effective when it combines external data captured from the market in which a company operates with data from internal company sources such as financial and operational data. When combined, this data provides a more comprehensive depiction of a company’s operations that cannot be derived from a singular source.
Business Intelligence Trends for 2016
As we head into 2016, the business intelligence landscape is very much in flux. Big Data, cloud services, and data science are constantly evolving spaces that each feed into the BI process, which changes the role it enables within enterprises as well as small to mid-sized businesses. Here are three trends for the coming year.
- A Fight for Data Privacy. Many experts believe that 2016 will herald the onset of “ privacy wars” over access and usage of data.
- IoT and Real-Time Data. The so-called “Internet of Things (IoT) creates new opportunities for data visualization and real-time analysis. Advanced analytics are not just for data scientists anymore. Companies who most fully apply their analytics packages within their BI strategy will thrive.
- Mobile Analytics Stands Out. Mobile analytics have advanced to the point that they are no longer an afterthought to legacy products. In 2016, products with an agile, mobile-first experience will begin to come into their own.