When companies go to implement a business intelligence system, they need to think about what their end goal is. Think of it like a roadmap. You want your reports to drive your business to the end of the road, not just sit out there and do nothing. Sometimes business intelligence systems are used to give businesses more information, but then nothing happens with the information. You want to make sure that you are taking action on the data that you are receiving. The best-case use of business intelligence data is to use the outputs of your BI system to build new roadmaps, plans, and strategies based on data rather than guesswork.
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Using Business Intelligence Wisely
The average business intelligence system organizes, displays, and produces reports on various aspects of your organization. But 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.
Start with the End Goal in Mind
Before building business intelligence reports, begin with the end in mind. 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, one must also 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 us 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. It is considering changing the menu to add healthier options such as new 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.
It doesn’t matter what type of business you run, the point of this information is to show how business intelligence data isn’t useful by itself. It’s most useful when it’s applied to a business problem. A warehouse is a great example. It can use similar geographic targeting to map sites for expansion, advertising, or even shipping routes.
Business Intelligence from Mindover Software
Business intelligence data offers a wealth of information to help you build a roadmap to success. For more information about BI systems, contact Mindover.