Your company has data – and lots of it. The data tells you what your customers are purchasing, what your sales trends are, where your inventory is, what your profits and losses are, and more. Or rather, your data would tell you all these things, if only you could take that enormous pile of facts and figures and make sense of it.
Welcome to the world of business intelligence. Business intelligence, also known as BI, describes the tools and technologies that help you understand your data. Business intelligence is vital for any company looking to excel in today’s rapidly evolving business environment. Business intelligence gives your company up-to-the-minute information on your past, present and future by turning a mass of jumbled data into key summaries and detailed reports that can guide critical business decisions.
Business intelligence includes functions such as reporting, analytics and data mining, and one of the easiest and quickest ways to gain insight into your data is to use a business intelligence software solution that will allow you to harvest in-depth data and generate BI reports for internal and external use.
A business intelligence reporting tool can give you the ability to:
– Locate company data quickly
– Connect multiple, dissimilar data sources and quickly and simply and define the relationships between data sets, no matter how convoluted they are
– Locate specific data using a very user-friendly interface
– Select data in a narrative style, which is natural to an individual’s approach in focusing on desired data
– Present meta data as you wish it displayed and described
– Display selected data in a spreadsheet with critical numbers represented by a gauge in a summation cell for each row
– Generate reports on your schedule that can be delivered to multiple individuals in a variety of ways
Business intelligence reports come in many forms, depending upon the reporting software you use. Some programs let you create graphical tools such as charts, gauges and dashboards that automatically refresh to display up-to-date information that is easily and quickly understood. Some of these reporting software packages allow you to really dive deep into your information using sophisticated tables. Also, they can include the ability to include outer information – growth and economic trends for example. This will give you a better grasp on how market forces affect your bottom line.
While business intelligence reporting tools vary in cost and capabilities, they all have one thing in common: the goal of providing your company with the information it needs in order to thrive in today’s competitive environment.