No matter the size of your organization, you’ve probably heard of one of today’s biggest trends in business strategy: data. These days, the topic has climbed to the top of the Google search results, business owners are supplementing spreadsheets with additional analysis, and the wave of the future is beginning to look even more data-driven.
Data has always been an essential part of doing business, and it’s more important than ever to know how to use your company’s data strategically. In fact, there’s a newfangled term for that: “business intelligence.” You might have heard someone talk about it before—but what does it really mean, and why does it matter?
What is business intelligence?
Business intelligence (BI) is a bit of a buzzword these days, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Think of it this way: it’s a simple fact that decision-makers in any organization need the most accurate, complete data about the business in order to make sound decisions. The more information available, the better their ability to weigh every option before moving forward.
That’s where business intelligence comes in. Business intelligence is the ability to analyze an organization’s data in order to formulate actionable plans. Note that the definition has two parts.
First, you need a sound understanding of your company’s data points. This might mean delving into several resources depending on the type of organization and the data available. BI might look at business analytics, statistical analysis, key performance indicators, data mining, data visualization, and more. Once upon a time, business owners needed IT professionals or professional data analysts to help them wade through this information and the programs involved. But in recent years, I’ve seen business owners taking the reins, using more modern analytic software and visualization tools to analyze their own data and make their own decisions.
Second, you need to know how to use your data intelligently to drive growth and to weather market fluctuations and industry changes. Often, this goes hand-in-hand with your ability to create digestible reports of that data and to prepare visualizations that make your results understandable for yourself and others. Once the data is clear, it’s easier to decide the best way to move forward.
Why does business intelligence matter?
Business intelligence matters because it allows you to develop strategies that accelerate your business’s growth. It allows you to translate your data into valuable insights for yourself and your people. For example, BI might help you decide how to formulate sales strategies that increase your revenue, personnel strategies that improve your team’s productivity, or brand strategies that give you a leg up on the competition. That same data-driven BI might also help you spot potential issues before they get out of control, or help you weather the storm when unforeseen problems occur.
Essentially, BI is the foundation of any successful business strategy. If you want to do more than simply stay afloat, BI can help you seize new opportunities, weather industry storms, or create strategies for long-term growth. It’s a great way to empower yourself and your people, taking your organization to the next level with the certainty that only cold, hard data can provide.