Business Intelligence, or BI, encompasses both the tools and practices that allow organizations to make sense of their data by translating that raw data into actionable insight. If you consider your entire IT infrastructure, you can think of Business Intelligence as the brain. BI software is capable of handling high volumes of information and allows employees to mine data, interpret it, and present it in a way that is easily digestible. Perhaps most importantly, Business Intelligence technology gives organizations the confidence to make better and faster business decisions.

There are a few subsets of Business Intelligence that are rapidly evolving due to recent advances in this valuable technology. The most well-known are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics, and keeping them all straight gets a little tricky. Starting with the simplest, predictive analytics is a technology that uses historic data to find patterns. When you add the ability to make assumptions and learn autonomously, you get machine learning, which falls under the broader category of artificial intelligence. Still with me?

Despite a somewhat confusing classification system, it’s easy to understand why Business Intelligence is becoming critical infrastructure for businesses in the 2020s. The capabilities of this technology are growing quickly and spreading even faster. So, if you haven’t considered adding it into your transformation strategy already, maybe it’s time to do so. Let’s talk about what makes BI technology so pivotal to modern business strategy.

BI Helps Businesses Sort Their Data

These days, businesses are absolutely swimming in data. And for the most part, it’s not a bad thing. Organizations need data to understand their business and plan for the future. Having a lot of it simply means that organizations are taking advantage of all of the data-capture opportunities available to them. Drivers for this include expanded access to Internet of Things technology, more cloud-based IT and ERP systems, and the availability of inexpensive data storage. All of this data gives you a better understanding of key processes, which in turn gives decision-makers the best odds to make profitable decisions.

However, dealing with data at scale gets complicated. Good insight becomes dependent on getting and maintaining quality data. When businesses do not have well-developed practices of data governance to manage the quality of their data they put themselves at risk of collecting so-called “dirty data”, which can skew insights and lead to poor business decisions. Managing your data and making sense of it requires a set of practices and structure that can be supplemented by having the right tools.

When paired with accurate and well-managed data, Business Intelligence tools can help drive substantial new insights into the business and improve decision-making and performance. Ultimately, BI is the enabler for businesses to utilize the increased amount of available data in the modern world and turn that into real results.

BI Is Shaping Future Business Models

Business Intelligence is leading to fundamental changes in the way that workers operate. Think about the rapidly changing conditions for various businesses over the last year due to COVID-19 impacts. Previously stable business cycles are now seeing greater fluctuations. Businesses that captured and analyzed extensive data about customer behavior, sales, service and more were able to rebound quickly by realizing specific insights and adapting to changing trends. By shifting production to certain items that are more in demand or re-allocating sales resources to adapt to shifting customer preferences, BI is enabling a level of flexibility that, until now, was impossible.

As organizations build out their Business Intelligence capabilities, job responsibilities will shift to focus more on rapidly responding to the insights available. For the most part, jobs will involve more critical thinking and strategy. Savvy business leaders should already be preparing for this shift in the workforce to occur. For those looking to learn more about navigating the waters of a changing workforce, our guide to operational change management is just the thing.

BI Helps Maximize Business Value

Perhaps one of the biggest draws to Business Intelligence technology is its ability to maximize business value. There are a couple of ways in which the software makes this possible. For one, BI gives businesses a better view of their data, allowing them to be more accurate in their decision-making processes. With a better picture of their data, it’s easy to make cost-saving decisions, predict market trends, and understand the consequences of changing variables.

Second, Business Intelligence connects every level of a business from c-suite executives to managers and entry-level workers. In turn, this allows people to think more strategically, giving workers the chance to flex their critical thinking skills and consider new ways to improve the business.

Additionally, Business Intelligence gives businesses a competitive edge, whether that’s through an increase in efficiency, wider profit margins, cutting loss, etc. Better insights from BI help organizations outperform other businesses in their field or attain long-term stability in the market.

The Experts Agree

Regardless of where you are in your digital transformation journey, experts agree that organizations need to start including BI in their business strategies moving forward — the benefits are just too good to miss out. As more ERP software begins to incorporate BI into their offerings, organizations would do well to seek the guidance of independent ERP consulting firms like Third Stage Consulting. We can guide you through the different options for your business, whether that’s adding BI software to your stack or suggesting an ERP system that includes BI tools to best fit your business. No matter what, we’re here to see you through every step in your digital transformation. If you want more customized feedback or have any specific questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

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