Business intelligence is now a common term amongst business owners. BI software is now mainstream and in high demand in medium to large businesses. However, for small businesses, it is still a struggle due to complex (but small) databases and the consulting time it takes to deploy them; until now.
Firstly let’s look at what Bi is and why it’s so hard to do. Business intelligence is a way of simplifying rows and rows of data into visual dashboards that make decision making a breeze. It takes millions of rows of data and presents it in a summarised easy to visualise format. It makes decision making easier because you can clearly see the difference between failed products and successful products. It helps teams focus their energy on the right tasks and prioritise their tasks. It makes PDF reports a thing of the past.
Bi pulls information back from your systems instantaneously and displays them live on any device. It can alert you when a particular product reaches a critical quantity for you to order more or when your team’s billable hours are at an all time low. You can do calculations based on some key data from the past and try and predict the future. Or if you want to analyse growth of a particular product range year on year. Bi helps you gain competitive advantage over non-analytical businesses and drive new revenues.
However, business analytics comes at a price. There are two major reasons for this. One, your CRM or specialist application provider has databases that are hard to understand. Usually when an SQL application is in use, you can be sure that it was written a decade ago and since then has 100 database versions have been written, making the data complex to understand with a million tables. And second, database providers dont like to help you develop your own dashboards because they want to sell their own consulting services. For them, having a complex database is a revenue stream.
To get around the above problems you need someone that can unravel the data and format it in a way that it makes sense and convert the data into visual friendly gauges and graphs.
Following are the 5 steps that will help you get started with business intelligence
- Know what data is key for your organisation. If your business is hospitality, your main metric is occupancy. If your business is service based your key metric is billable hours, and so on. You need to understand the figures that are most important to you in your business. The ones that will help your team know quickly what’s working and what needs improvement.
- Know your systems. When you need to understand your data, you need to understand which systems you’re using to deliver them. You need to understand where each metric will come from and how it will come together. Does your software provider give you full access to systems or is it locked down? Does it use SQL or MYSQL or is it online? Answer to the above questions will help you narrow down how to find your information.
- Data roadmap. Build a roadmap of what your data is going to look like in the coming years. What new systems, processes, information, products, and databases you will have in the future.
- Organise your data. Depending on what systems you use, you’ll need to understand how the data is stored in each of those systems’ databases.
- Keep it simple. Bi is addictive. It is easy to analyse and find intelligence in every department and every division. It is important to stick to the important ones; probably no more than 5-8 KPIs per department or you run a risk of death-by-bi. People want to know meaningful information and not get overwhelmed at the same time.
Business intelligence is now easier to deploy in your small business than you think. If you follow the above steps it will give you a head start to understand the bi process.
Lindentech has recently launched business intelligence using Microsoft PowerBi. We can help you through the above process and make analysis easy and deliver projects within weeks. Give us a call to start your process.