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Quick Guide: Business Intelligence (And Why It Matters)

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.

As we all deal with the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus and its impact on our day to day lives, it's important to step back and take the time to care for ourselves. Here are some of the things that are worth consciously working on in the coming weeks.

SPEND TIME WITH LOVED ONES, especially children. In today’s busy world often our time with the ones we love gets put on the back burner. As events, activities, and schools cancel….and more and more people work at home, now is a great chance to get caught up with each other.

REDISCOVER THE SIMPLE THINGS. There was a time when we weren’t “on the clock” 24/7, when our children weren’t spending each evening in activities… when life was a routine. With much of that canceled for the near term, now is an opportunity to have family dinners, play games, read that book that you can never get to. Take a step back from the complications of the world. Take a breather.

FIND THE GOOD IN THINGS. We are bombarded all day and night with the negative things that are going on. There is much criticism over governments, mass hysteria, other nations, etc. But there are good stories out there as well. Stories of people helping people. While it's a shame that we have to work hard to find these, it is worth the effort.

Last, and most importantly, KEEP A POSITIVE MINDSET. It is so easy to succumb to the negativity that flows from a crisis such as this one. But keeping a positive mindset is one of the best things that you can do during this time. Positive energy will help you maintain your health, be productive, and reduce stress. Moreover, it is contagious. Everyone that you come in contact with (from 6 feet away of course) will be affected by your energy, even if just a little bit. And the more positive energy that is released into the world, the better this situation will be and the quicker it will resolve.


WADE THOMAS

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