To make truly data-driven decisions, many companies take advantage of business intelligence systems to collect, analyze, and report data from sources across many different departments. By showing you the big picture, business intelligence reports can give you important clues to help you improve profits, decrease costs, and gain competitive advantages.
However, as data reports become more sophisticated and extensive, the data may begin to be confusing and overwhelming. At times, data can seem like a foreign language! While some employees in your company may be perfectly happy looking at spreadsheets and tables of numbers all day, many will not be as comfortable with large data sets.
If data are not presented in an accessible way, employees will not use or try to understand that data. Therefore, data visualization can be an important lens through which you show your employees a new perspective on the data your business intelligence system generates. If data is a foreign language, then data visualization is the translation.
What types of data visualization exist? While there are several different types of data visualization, these three may be the most helpful for business purposes:
- Timelines: Companies can use timelines to track the progress of shipments, understand manufacturing processes, and monitor customer service times.
- Maps: Maps allow you to see where your customer base is primarily located, highlighting patterns or clusters of customers in particular geographical areas. This data can help you decide where to open a new branch office or warehouse.
- Gantt charts: Gantt charts are created out of large data sets and can help managers and executives understand the data and make decisions accordingly, such as identifying resources that are available and those that are needed.
You may already be familiar with other types of data visualization such as line graphs, pie charts, scatterplot graphs, and more. There are a wide variety of options available to you, so be sure to choose the ones that best fit your data.
If you’ve ever tried to make a graph or chart in Excel, you know how difficult it can be to turn data points into a visual display. To harness the power of both business intelligence and data visualization, you’ll need a business intelligence software solution.
Most business intelligence software solutions already have data visualization tools built in. Through customized dashboards, such software solutions can automatically create many different types of data visualizations. In fact, you can even set up these visualizations to be updated in real-time. What’s more, once you set up a particular visualization, it is far less vulnerable to human error since it’s all automated.
Your business intelligence system will only be valuable if it’s integrated with your other software solutions. If it can’t collect much data, it won’t yield very helpful reports. If you’re in the market for a business intelligence system, make sure you can integrate your chosen system with your current software.
One of the best ways to obtain large quantities of usable data is to integrate your ERP and your business intelligence software. At ASI, we provide our clients with two powerful ERP options: Acumatica and Sage 100. Both systems have business intelligence functionality built in, but they can also integrate with outside software if necessary. ASI can implement, customize, and integrate these systems into your business according to your goals and needs. If you’re interested in how we can help you build a connected, data-driven business, contact us or schedule a free consultation today.