Taking Advantage of Business Intelligence

The idea of big data and analytics is generally associated with large businesses and multinational corporations. Today, more smaller businesses are now able to gain benefits from the same technology through the growing options in business intelligence (BI) reporting software.


Understanding Business Analytics

Big data is the term used to describe data volumes that are so large, varied, and growing so fast that traditional software isn't capable of using it to full advantage. We're creating endless amounts of information online; every minute there are over 200 million new emails and two million Google searches. Cameras are everywhere, and modern manufacturing plants and call centers are continuously logging information from machine sensors or customer interactions. All of this can add up to a huge data set that's difficult to manage for small to medium businesses. But analyzing that data to find insights that will boost sales or streamline operations can provide immense value. Today, everyone from lawyers to ship builders are using BI reporting tools to improve operations and maximize profits.

For small companies that aren't sure how much value they could get from BI reporting tools, here are just some of the practical applications.


Managing Employees

The more productive your employees are, the more value they bring. Research has shown that more than 85 percent of companies use BI in their HR reporting only for tracking basic metrics such as vacation time or hours worked. In fact, you have a variety of options through a BI reporting tools comparison to capture other information crucial to building a better workforce. Modern solutions can do everything from develop more effective recruiting practices to increasing employee retention and motivation. A few companies are even using predictive analysis to forecast trends in wages, benefits, skills training, and other areas.


Recognize Customer Patterns

One of the greatest advantages to any business is using BI to learn more about customer behavior. Modern computer and payment systems, as well as online analytics for tracking click-throughs and page visits, can collect information that tells you what, when, where, and how purchases and purchase decisions are made. Over time, this creates considerable information that analytics and BI reporting tools can break down into buying patterns. The ability to understand what product customers want, how they find it, and what makes them purchase it lead to more effective marketing campaigns and greater sales volumes.


Better Quality

Data analytics can do more than show you how to create more effective marketing. It can help businesses identify customer expectations to provide better products and services. Looking at various features via BI reporting tools comparison can tell you which sizes, colors, materials, and features customers value most. This is important to better satisfy customer perceptions of quality. As purchasers themselves, companies can also use business intelligence within their own supply chains to determine which vendors are providing them quality materials at the best value.


Control Inventory Levels

Traditional databases linked to scanners or keyboard terminals have always been used to help manage inventory levels. But modern technology combined with big data and business intelligence goes far beyond that. BI reporting tools can help companies discover and monitor safety stock levels, seasonal demand for specific items, shipping times, and the flow of goods between multiple distribution channels and locations. While every company has different needs, logistics of one form or another is almost universal. A BI reporting tools comparison can help you discover solutions that monitor product and material flow, map storage locations, issue alerts, and automate ordering of materials.


Improved Customer Service

Customer service is another crucial area where businesses can take advantage of business intelligence. Many customers will pass over a company in future purchase decisions if they've had bad personal experiences with that company, regardless of product quality or price. Every customer interaction can tell you important information about how your brand is perceived and what kind of relationships your service agents are providing. Service that's slow, unprofessional, or ineffective at resolving customer issues will seriously impact repeat business, while service agents need quick access to customer information to develop relationships and provide the appropriate response. Every company should do a BI reporting tools comparison to find the right mix of analytic tools to meet their objectives.

BI reporting tools are becoming much more user-friendly and versatile. They also provide options for web-based services, infographics, system integration, and report distribution. Business intelligence provides greater returns through bringing advantages to every aspect of company operations.

This guest post is courtesy of Robert Cordray.


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