How much data do you deal with on a daily basis? If your company is like most, you accumulate large amounts of data in a very short time. More often than not, companies do not have a system in place to sufficiently deal with the massive amount of information coming in and feel overwhelmed with all of their data. While some jokingly dub this “Information Overload Syndrome”, the reality is that this overload of information can leave accountants, executives, and managers feeling overwhelmed and unproductive.

What can we do to combat information overload? Enter business intelligence (BI) software.

Business intelligence (BI) solutions allow companies to gather, store, access and analyze corporate data to aid in the decision-making process. Generally these systems will illustrate business intelligence in the areas of customer profiling, customer support, market research, market segmentation, product profitability, statistical analysis, and inventory and distribution analysis to name a few.

Benefits to Business Intelligence

Bottom line, BI solutions can help companies of all sizes use the data found in their applications to solve problems and make better, faster, and more intelligent business decisions. And while many different size, shapes, and styles of BI exist, specific benefits can include the ability to:

  1. Combine data from various applications in some type of a “data mart” or “data universe.”
  2. Validate and clean data to make sure it is accurate and useful (the fancy term for this is called ETL or “Extract, Transform, and Load.”
  3. Enable report creators or viewers to access data and reports via the Internet or company Intranet.
  4. Store a library of custom reports.
  5. Provide ad-hoc query capabilities. This can include data cubing or pivot-table type capabilities.
  6. Secure the information so that users to only see data for which they are authorized.
  7. Deliver a single version of the truth to all stakeholders. Eliminate “spreadmarts” — a fancy term for a vast array of complicated spreadsheets, which far too many companies employ as a reporting “solution.”

For all of the wonderful things that BI can deliver, implementation can be complex and the promised benefits elusive without proper planning and preparation. With that in mind, what’s a responsible, data-loving, budget-conscious, decision-maker to do?

  1. Remember, it’s not your fault. The existing solution of spreadsheets, post-it notes, random reports, and hieroglyphics are not your fault. Look in the mirror and repeat if need be.
  2. Quantify the problem: what is the current solution (or lack thereof) costing you?
    • Employee hours
    • Postponed decisions
    • Lower profitability
  3. Determine your requirements.
    – What is the overall strategy / what are you looking to accomplish?
    – Who needs information?
    – What capabilities will provide the most significant return on investment?

    • Web-based access
    • Ad-hoc query
    • Report distribution
    • Data universe capabilities
    • Data security
  4. Ask questions. A good business intelligence solution will provide answers to your critical questions. Take some time to ask those questions and document them accordingly.
  5. Explore your options. Work with a knowledgeable partner who understands your needs and various business intelligence solutions. A reputable consultant will seek to understand your requirements and priorities and then match those with the best possible solution.

What About You?

What are your biggest reporting challenges? Do you feel overloading by the amount of information you have in your hands? Do you plan to explore business intelligence as a solution to address your critical reporting needs?

Contact us today to learn more about our business intelligence options.