No longer are we in a world where assessing everyday business data and operations can be done manually. More and more, businesses are finding that business intelligence (BI) is the critical tool they need to ensure competitiveness and productivity. But, you can’t just buy a BI tool and expect magic to occur. Your new BI system has to be used and used correctly so it’s actually improving your business, not just spitting numbers at you.

When it comes to BI, it’s important not to fall into the trap of feeling empowered by knowledge while not taking any action on the data. Some best practice cases are to use the outputs of your BI systems to build new roadmaps, plans, and strategies based on the data. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can use business intelligence to your best advantage.

Make Sure You’re Using Business Intelligence Wisely

The average business intelligence system organizes, displays, and produces reports on various aspects of your organization. However, a BI system can only display data; it cannot build new processes or systems based on that data. For the best use of business intelligence, you must be prepared to act upon its findings. With the right BI reports in hand, your business is well positioned to get a quick return on actionable insights, with less time spent on reports and more time spent considering outcome options and driving business decisions.

Get the Right Reports: Start With the End Goal

Getting smarts from your business intelligence starts with building the right reports. For that, you’ll want to start from the end and work backward. Ask yourself:

  • What is the most important information we need?
  • How will this information help us with KPIs, planning, marketing, and more?
  • Will this help us make better decisions?

In addition to understanding the ramifications of these questions, when planning a BI system, you’ll also want to delve into how data is added to the system, how it is shared across the organization, and how people will use it to do their jobs.

Examples of How BI Has Helped Companies Improve

To better understand how business intelligence can be used to help companies build new strategies, let’s take the example of a fictional fast-food chain. This chain restaurant spans four states in the Midwest and serves a variety of typical fast-food items. But it’s now 2020, so corporate is considering changing the menu to add healthier options such as salads and fruit juice to meet a perceived area of potential profit, discovered by the marketing department during their research audit.

The company isn’t sure how adding salads and fruit juices to the menu will impact their sales and costs. To understand the ramifications better, they can use their business intelligence program to assess current sales and costs for similar menu items. The resulting data can then be used to make reasonable, educated guesses about the cost and profit impacts of changing the menu.

Additionally, BI data can be used to review customer patterns surrounding restaurants in the chain to assess the future advertising needed to roll out the expanded healthier menu. The company knows it must promote the new menu, and to do so plans an aggressive television, radio, and billboard advertising campaign. BI data can be used to review geographic data surrounding existing restaurants. Marketing staff can then take this information and use it to select media outlets that will reach the most potential customers at the lowest cost.

BI Can Give You the Clues You Need

It doesn’t matter if you run a factory, warehouse, or other service-sector business. The point is that business intelligence data by itself isn’t useful, but when it’s applied to a business problem, it can help form faster and smarter decisions. BI gives companies the data and analysis capabilities they need to make rapid and effective business decisions. Clues are all found within the BI data.

Business intelligence data offers a wealth of information to help you grow revenues and cut costs. For more information about BI systems and how they can give you smarter access to the data in your systems, contact one of our experts at Accounting Systems, Inc.