What is business intelligence?
While there is significant value in the data a business collects, understanding it and properly contextualising it is vital for gaining the most from it. Business intelligence (BI) supplies the assets you need to take large data sets and better visualise, explain, and distribute them to every member of your team.
Still, not every BI implementation delivers positive results, and there are many examples of failed BI initiatives that may give many businesses pause for concern.
To ensure your business intelligence software will succeed, it’s critical to evaluate more than just the price tag or the listed features.
What is business intelligence used for?
Business intelligence can have a huge impact on an organization’s performance, and is used to get actionable insights from your data. BI can be used for things such as:
- Forecasting and measuring sales
- Budgeting and financial planning
- Risk analysis
- Web/online analytics
- Streamlining business processes
- Tracking performance of campaigns
Examples of companies that use business intelligence
Here are some of the best business intelligence success story examples, and what you can learn from them when embarking on your own implementation initiatives.
HelloFresh used its data trove to improve customer support
The number of data streams from which a company’s marketing team aggregates information is enormous. From social media to emails and even individual impressions on websites, understanding disparate data sets makes marketers’ jobs harder when they have to track down each point. Creating reports that collect all this data is even more labour intensive, making the process unappealing.
Even so, with so much data available, companies can learn a surprising amount about each customer and provide tailored and unique experiences to each one. HelloFresh had massive data sets, but their existing infrastructure made it harder to dig deep and find value. Using smarter data warehousing, the company was able to wrangle over 15 terabytes of user data and build over 2,500 dashboards. This lets teams provide smarter solutions with better insights at every level.
The lesson: BI starts with data, and giving yourself the most data you can is the best way to find value. Focus on building data structures that let you access the data you need and provide a better, more comprehensive view of your business.
Amazon uses BI to successfully anticipate shoppers’ purchases and cut down shipping time
For Amazon, one of the world’s largest e-commerce retailers, the promise of quick shipping and personalised service is a central tenet of success. The company’s guaranteed one-day shipping for Prime customers means that it must find ways to improve delivery supply chains at every point. One of the biggest uses the company has for BI tools is collecting user behavioural data for predictive analytics purposes.
Indeed, the company’s patent for “anticipatory shipping” shows how the retail giant can leverage analytics and BI to expedite shipping. With the technology, Amazon can start the process of shipping products to users before they even make a purchase, leveraging past data and behavioural information to determine whether shoppers will complete the process.
The lesson: When you have significant amounts of data, you can use BI to predict future trends and get ahead of the game. Amazon’s difference of a few hours on delivery means that it can out-compete many of its rivals on the market thanks to a cunning combination of predictive analytics and BI.
Fort Worth Boys & Girls Clubs demonstrates how successful they are with dashboards
This non-profit organisation is an important hub for teens and children who come to participate, but it’s difficult for the group to convey these realities to donors and board members who demand facts. Because funding is an ongoing concern, the group needed a way to visualize their effectiveness along with the data related to each child who participated.
Using dynamic visualisations and dashboards to illustrate the Boys & Girls Clubs’ data, they can compare their program data with individual participants. This empowers them to reflect how well children are doing and discover where they need to improve. More importantly, it allows every member of the group to access the relevant data.
The lesson: One of BI’s biggest benefits is the ability to distribute data to the people who need it in an easily digestible format. Visualisations and dashboards let you grant access to the relevant data to anyone in your organisation while making it more easily understandable and manipulable dynamically.
Heinz uses Business Intelligence to find areas for improvement and go lean
As one of the biggest names in the FMCG and food product industries, Heinz competes on a massive scale, so savings anywhere are welcome. The company, in an attempt to go lean, deployed a BI tool to help uncover areas where savings could be realised while simultaneously improving processes.
The result? The company managed to raise performance rates across the company by more than 10%, and reduced maintenance costs by 10% as well. Additionally, Heinz built a system to improve their operations on an enterprise scale.
The lesson: BI is more than visualisations and dashboards. At its core, you can use BI and big data to clearly comprehend your company and see exactly where it can be demonstrably improved. By focusing BI on your operations and supply chains, you can quickly uncover areas to improve, and more importantly, recognise how to improve them.
A better understanding of business intelligence
No matter the industry, BI tools can play an essential role in visualising data to discern valuable insights. From smarter reporting to increased savings and better efficiency, you can leverage the data your company regularly produces to constantly adapt, evolve and, ultimately, advance.
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