It’s no longer a question of whether you should utilize Business Intelligence (BI) in your organization. You already do to one extent or another. The argument of whether you should purchase and install a separate business intelligence application still is valid though. I’d argue that there’s a lot you can do with your current applications to mine the data that you have access to and embed your analytics into your workflow and decision making. If you’re enterprise-size and/or your budget allows for a separate BI app and you’ve got time to learn in, by all means, jump in.
Creating and running reports, particularly real-time snapshots of your metrics, is where the real value of Business Intelligence lies. When you empower users by culling information from different sources without manual involvement and it displays it in meaningful, consumable chunks, you’ve hit the sweet spot.
With some BI tools that you may already have access to, like Analytics, you’re able to have different databases store records in a collective data warehouse, then create templates that automatically update when the record values change or when some other trigger is applied. Using this process where you’re matching and mapping certain key fields, can provide you and your marketing, sales, and other management team member can delve into.
The concept is similar to what a grown-up Microsoft Access would be. Fortunately, it doesn’t have the million record constraint or (even more importantly) require that users know the back-end of Access to pull information without living in fear that two tables get joined that pull the whole thing down… along with anything else attached to the data warehouse.
The elements that affect our KPIs in planning and forecasting can be set up for real-time monitoring to provide managers with information they can use to make decisions about inventory management or to find growth opportunities derived from customer metrics.
Enterprise Apps Today included embedded BI on their 2017 prediction list of the 10 Benefits of Business Intelligence Software. Particularly in SMB organizations, the cost-effectiveness of embedded BI can provide benefits as important as the primary function of the software applications they’re included with. Matching purchase order data with actual orders placed at the SKU-level can lead to companies optimizing their marketing spend on targeted geographic areas based on trends identified through business intelligence analytics. Equally important, the data could show products have lived out their useful lives and should be considered for retirement.
Most financial leaders, along with other executives, treat each decision with the importance that it deserves. If access readily exists that can bolster intuitive decision making and reduce the risk of making errors in judgment, then we owe it to ourselves and our companies to tap into it.
What type of BI opportunities have you explored? Which one can you enhance this week?
This article is made possible by Centage Corporation. Centage Corporation is the world leader in automated, business budgeting and planning software solutions for small to medium-sized organizations. Since 2001, thousands of managers at all levels have utilized the Budget Maestro family of software solutions to streamline their business budgeting, financial forecasting, financial consolidation, performance analysis, and financial reporting processes. Centage Corporation is headquartered in Natick, MA.