Can business intelligence (BI) solutions, software that helps organizations mine and analyze big data and small, help your company improve its bottom line? Here are eight top suggestions regarding how you can get a positive return on your BI software investment by dozens of BI experts and IT executives.
1. Get fast answers to critical business questions. "Business intelligence provides data at the moment of value to a company," says Jason Cook, chief architect & CTO, U.S. & Canada and Consumer Packaged Goods, BT Global Services. "With a [BI solution] in place, companies can extract crucial facts from a large amount of data at a rapid speed."
"With quick access to your internal data, you can more efficiently use your time to analyze internal information and make decisions," says Ryan Mulholland, president, Connotate, a provider of Web data monitoring and extraction solutions. For example, "as president of my company, I can look at all trends in our sales cycle and see which are going to affect our business," he says. "Then I can decide our course of action much more quickly and efficiently."
2. Align business activities with corporate strategy. "Companies incur a huge direct cost as well as opportunity cost when people, and even entire departments, focus on things that are not aligned with the company's strategy," says Myron Weber, founder of Northwood Advisors, a BI and decision systems advisory firm.
"Establishing metrics and key performance indicators aligned with strategy, then using BI software to provide visibility and drive accountability, brings alignment of activities and outcomes with the desired strategic objectives," Weber says.
3. Empower employees. "The more people who have access to data, the greater value organizations will derive as a result," says Rado Kotorov, Chief Innovation Officer at Information Builders, a provider of business software solutions. "BI software allows businesses to maximize information capital and turn every employee into a decision maker. Armed with relevant, real-time information, individuals can make data-driven, informed decisions that impact the company's bottom line."
4. Reduce time spent on data entry and manipulation. "A strong BI system, if well-configured, can help eliminate the time spent copying and pasting data and performing calculations," says Max Dufour, principal, Harmeda LLC, an enterprise solutions advisory to Fortune 500 and private equity firms.
That's because with business intelligence software, workers can quickly "generate reports where most of the leg work has already been performed behind the scenes," Dufour says. "And the time saved preparing the report can be reallocated to analyze the outcome and drive better, more profitable decisions."
5. Gain insights into customers. "BI software allows companies to discover patterns within customer behaviors, offering greater visibility into what customers want, when they want it and how they want it," explains Cook. "This inside knowledge can turn into direct profit for a company by leveraging existing data on consumer habits and maintaining valuable customers."
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