Business analytics has become an all-important factor in the present ecosystem as industries strive to gain competitive advantage, enhance profitability and reduce costs. The criticality of accurate, timely and requirement specific quantitative analysis of data cannot be overstated. Effective and timely business intelligence has the power to turnaround business profits overnight – by harnessing market opportunities.
Data trends have changed considerably since business analytics gained prominence in the 1980s. Then, quantitative analysis of mostly structured data was done to improve operations, forecast product demand, optimize supply chains, identify customer segmentations and predict customer lifetime value. Now, Business Intelligence (BI) plays a critical role in decisions related to various operations such as category management, risk analysis, sales trend analysis, policy development, employee initiatives, market campaigns, customer engagement and support, statistical process control, cash flow forecasting, and market analysis among other things.
Today, data coming into organizations and enterprises via a range of media – social media, web forms, online or paper surveys, polls, customer interviews, feedback, and more. Incoming data can be compartmentalized into real-time, near-time, structured and unstructured forms. Then there’s the volume of data. Today’s organizations have gargantuan proportions of data coming in every day – Big Data – and the better they mine the data to reveal analytical data – greater are the chances of success.
A number of BI tools, techniques and technologies are available to enterprises for data mining and business analytics. Some organizations choose custom app development over off-the-shelf solutions that generate pre-defined reports. With custom apps, businesses can get a BI tool that’s in sync with their specific requirements, and caters to their products, services, processes or customer segment. However, developing a BI strategy and executing it is far from simple.
A successful BI initiative demands the involvement of all users in the organization. Business users may not have much understanding of technology but they can give you a deep understanding of requirements and highlight the priority of the BI project. Business heads and the BI solution vendor/developer have to together define the current state of BI and map it to the future based on latest analytics architecture. The technicalities of the process have to be documented in a project plan – SLAs, integration points, required changes in business processes, future requirements, etc. – so businesses are saved the cost and effort of redefining, redesigning or refining the BI platform in the foreseeable future.
For BI to be used effectively, its importance has to be brought home to top level executives. For that purpose, the solution provider has to demonstrably justify the value of upfront investment. BI tools are expensive so buy-in has will be hard won. At the same time, the provider should focus on business requirements and limitations rather than the sophistication and capabilities of technology. If the leaders get it, they will provide the push for organization members to make changes, learn, train, and make the BI initiative a success.