While it might seem like every company on earth is using business intelligence tools to glean insight from their corporate data, surveys say that nearly 10% of companies do not yet have BI in place. Even though 91% of companies may have it deployed somewhere in their organization, anecdotally BI vendors like to trot out the statistic that only 20% of potential users have access to business intelligence. The more companies we talk to, the more this seems true.
If you run a company or a department that doesn’t have access to BI tools, you might wonder how you can use them. Boris Evelson from Forrester Research compiled a list of analysis types that may apply to your situation:
- Historical (what happened)
- Operational (what is happening now)
- Analytical (why did it happen)
- Predictive (what might happen)
- Prescriptive (what should I do about it)
- Exploratory (what’s out there that I don’t know about)
When you’re first starting out with BI, you’ll likely be most interested in historical and operational analytics, though we often work with finance teams who want to dive right into predictive analytics. Let’s look at a few practical BI use cases in various departments of an organization.
Finance Department: Historical, Operational, Analytical, and Predictive Analysis
Dashboards are the most tangible deliverable from business intelligence providers. Not everyone can fathom what “guided analytics” are, or how collaboration capabilities can help their business, but dashboards make sense to people. They’re still a hot trend, even in 2014, and getting hotter as mobile BI – which usually takes the form of mobile dashboards – becomes more prevalent. Companies of every size want dashboards and decision makers at every level need them to stay on top of their key metrics. But what are the business trends that will influence dashboard purchases in 2014? Let’s look at the top 5:
1) Business users will drive dashboard deployments
Line of business users will play a more dominant role in evaluating and selecting dashboard software while IT departments will play a diminishing role in 2014. Traditionally, IT-chosen platforms are highly governed and provide trickles of information that seldom keep up with the demands of the business. By contrast, business-led dashboard projects have different requirements including self-service capabilities, direct access to data and short implementation timelines.
2) Full-service self-service…
Has your business intelligence software under-delivered on value? I don’t only mean the ROI of your BI – I also mean simply how valuable BI is to your organization. Is its use engrained in your company culture? If it’s not, you’re in the majority. By some estimates, 80% of corporate data isn’t accessed by BI users. How important to your culture can BI be if it’s only touching 20% of your data? But this isn’t an article about big data or social data – this is an article about changes you can make this year to improve how valuable BI is to your company, to increase the number of users who rely on it, and to make it essential to your everyday operations. You’ve likely paid between $100,000 and $1,000,000 for your BI system – why not squeeze every last drop of value out of it?
1) Pump customer data into your analysis
Is there a company in the world who can say “We have access to all the data we need about our customers”? A 360 degree view of customers is something every company seems to be chasing. Though it might seem like an elusive goal, you can take the first steps by integrating data from your CRM, accounting and customer support systems into your BI dashboards and reports to enable analysis of customer growth, profitability, and lifetime value. Understanding these KPIs can help you spot trends, identify opportunities to cross-sell, up-sell or simply target them more effectively. Your BI platform likely connects data from multiple sources, so why not take advantage of this inherent value by getting your platform to assemble the necessary data for you so you don’t waste time manually integrating data from all these different systems. It might not be quick to incorporate customer analytics into your BI initiative, but more companies are finding it essential to the continued value of their business intelligence and the success of their company.
Learn more about customer analytics in our blog series, which starts here.
2) Set up alerts and delivery
The arc|ademy BI Challenge will be held for the third time in 2014, but this is the first time the contest is open to university students around the world!
We invite college-level computer sciences and economics students to submit innovative business intelligence, analytics and planning applications that solve real business problems for a chance at our $20,000 (15.000€) prize fund! Building prototypes with arcplan 8, students can apply individually or in groups to come out on top in one of our 3 categories:
- Innovation: applications that are novel in their visualization, methodology, or technical approach
- Fast Mover: solutions that have been developed in a short time span or can be deployed quickly
- Business Excellence: applications that aim to improve the quality of business decisions
Each winner, selected by a jury of renowned market analysts, media representatives and BI experts, will receive $6,600 (5.000€). Previous years’ winners have presented their solutions at arcplan’s arc|planet user conferences and have gotten invaluable exposure…
These days, everyone’s talking about business agility. Wikipedia defines it as the ability of a business to adapt rapidly and cost-efficiently in response to changes in the business environment. Leading organizations realize that in a volatile business environment, the capacity to be agile determines whether the company will be able to survive and thrive in the market. Cloud computing has become a major driver of business agility, enabling IT resources to be scaled up or down in an automated way at a moment’s notice in response to internal or external requirements and to save money when resources aren’t in demand. Business intelligence is also a driver of business agility, giving decision-makers massive insight into company data and the ability to quickly make predictions and decisions that influence performance.
The combination of these technologies in the form of cloud BI is becoming quite popular. A survey from TechTarget in 2013 revealed that one-third of companies have cloud components in their BI program. The companies adopting cloud BI are driven by 4 things: reduced cost, flexibility, speed of implementation, and reduced maintenance of hardware/software. Let’s examine these drivers in more detail:
1. Reduced Cost
While many hosted BI solutions offer cloud BI licensing as an option, many cloud BI solutions are SaaS (software as a service) solutions – applications that are hosted outside of your company and accessed by users via the internet…