Big data and business intelligence belong to the bigger analytics umbrella, but they’re not one and the same.
According to Eric D. Brown, a technology and marketing consultant:
“Business intelligence helps find answers to questions you know. Big data helps you find the questions you don’t know you want to ask.”
Long story short:
There’s business intelligence and there’s the new data discovery market.
Just to be clear, in case you heard otherwise:
Big data isn’t about to drive business intelligence to obsolescence anytime soon.
This article won’t focus on the differences between big data and BI. Instead, we’ll be outlining eight reasons why it’s time your company started using business intelligence software.
Considering how cutthroat the business landscape has become over the years, for a lot of companies, strict cost containment measures are the norm. Even big companies are moving in the same direction to generate the most value for their shareholders.
Several different ways businesses can minimize costs and improve bottom line performance through BI software:
Proponents of real-time data analytics insist that traditional business intelligence, which focuses on historical, retrospective data, is severely outdated. Rearview-mirror data is only useful for business events that never deviate from past performances.
But as we all know, for most modern businesses, every day is a new day, with data originating from a host of channels including social media, besides the usual data repositories.
This highlights the need for an analytics platform that can feed decision-makers with both historical and relevant, real-time data to more intelligently and proactively tackle operational issues as they arise.
As tablets and smartphones become standard workplace tools providing mobile, factory-floor, and field workers the data they need to properly perform their jobs, mobile BI is expected to continue to grow (even if it is at a slow pace).
Survey data from BARC’s BI Trend Monitor 2019 shows that market penetration is growing relatively slowly: in 2018, 30 percent of business intelligence users stated that mobile BI is being used in their organization (up from 28 percent in 2017, 23 percent in 2016, and 21 percent in 2015).
Adi Azaria of Sisense has the following to say on business intelligence for mobile:
“For users who are mainly ‘dashboard consumers,’ i.e., their main interest is to be able to keep track of processes within their organization through interactive dashboard reporting, mobile has distinct advantages.”
He went on to point out that data analytics is more than just dashboard reporting, however.
Maintaining BI infrastructures is a costly and tedious exercise, and BI resources have their limitations.
A BI tool’s ability to scale as your data, user, and functionality requirements grow is a dimension decision-makers must seriously look into. Stunted growth resulting from limited software capabilities is not an appealing proposition.
One advantage of cloud-based solutions over their on-premise counterparts is scalability, sans the sizeable infrastructure investment in terms of money, time, and manpower.
An InformationWeek article by Gartner’s Cindi Howson supports this premise:
“With more choices and scalable databases offered in cloud environments, concerns about cloud BI scalability seem less valid than in the past.”
More and more business software vendors are weaving in collaborative features into their offerings because collaboration is now perceived as a standard for businesses to succeed.
A good chunk of the world’s businesses are powered by teams, and teams prosper through communication, cooperation, and collaboration.
Collaborative BI is a combination of business intelligence and collaboration frameworks in one platform, enabling teams to share insights, discuss the effects of newly uncovered trends on the business, and even share relevant business knowledge for better, more informed decision-making.
Collaboration in business intelligence fulfills three essential business requirements:
Imagine an organization with multiple business units, each with a reporting mechanism commensurate with their operational needs.
Now, imagine the CEO of the same organization wanting to know how the performance of each unit stacks up against enterprise-wide targets, how procedural standards in one department correlate with processes in other departments, or how external factors such as interest rates, commodity prices, or unemployment rates in certain areas affect the company’s profitability.
While knowledge management tools like a knowledge base or internal wiki allow you to centralize all this information, it's business intelligence that allows you to best leverage it.
Going back to our previous situation with the fictitious CEO - Without the use of BI, furnishing the CEO with all the information he/she needs will take a considerable amount of time as there will be several disparate reports to look into.
“Knowledge management will never work until corporations realize it’s not about how you capture knowledge but how you create and leverage it.” - Etienne Wenger
Modern BI tools facilitate the ability to centralize "data so that it is accessible to a variety of departments and end users. "
Reports generation, as a result, becomes a matter of selecting the appropriate filters and clicking the right buttons in your BI dashboard.
The insights provided by business intelligence software can outweigh the initial expenses associated with deploying one.
Having accurate historical and real-time information at your fingertips allows you to:
BI can also be used to recession-proof your organization. This slideshow from Bloomberg cites examples of companies that used business intelligence to manage costs, recognize worsening trends, and stay profitable despite an economic downturn.
A competitive BI product offers predictive modeling capabilities that allow you to forecast future client behavior and business scenarios.
Data stored in your BI system is mined to create statistical models and hypothetical situations to determine the best ways to move forward with your business.
It can offer insights into the actions involved in solidifying your relationships with your most profitable customers, and whether or not training underperforming employees is more favorable to laying them off.
A business that fails to swiftly react to market trends and customer behavior, among other things, will have a hard time staying relevant.
With BI software, using the data you already have at your disposal, you gain clear visibility into the issues and opportunities your company may come across, which, in turn, makes you agile, responsive, and innovative.