The Value of Business Intelligence – “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.”

Business guru Peter Drucker doesn’t mince words with that statement, which succinctly sums up the need for a company to employ some level of business intelligence (BI).

Not sure what BI is? First and foremost, it addresses the integration of people, businesses processes and technology within any organization. At the next level, it is any activity, tool or process used to extract raw data from multiple sources and transform it into meaningful information to support faster and more informed decision making. It shouldn’t provide data for data’s sake; instead its purpose should be to glean information that is accurate, actionable, of high-value, and provided in a timely manner.

Few would dispute the need for BI, after all, since decision-making has always required information. But what is the real value of a successful IT-based BI strategy? Many people think of “value” only as a dollar-for-dollar return on investment. However, the byproducts of well-deployed business intelligence practices transcend the purely financial.

BI helps businesses mature and improve performance via an iterative process that:

  • Enables more effective management of items measured
  • Enforces increasingly more operational discipline
  • Allows a business to be more proactive
  • Increases the productivity and performance, and therefore satisfaction level, of employees, increasing retention
  • Drives process implementation and improvement, saving time and increasing productivity
  • Gives executives the metrics they need to measure an initiative’s impact on the business, and discern cost-saving measures
  • Provides marketing execs with real-time metrics to better manage campaigns; and offers tools to analyze data to maximize likelihood of success within target markets
  • Empowers customer service and sales reps to maintain and analyze customer-centric data in a mobile environment, impacting response and resolution time – and improving customer satisfaction.

Business intelligence provided through a uniform tool ensures that all stakeholders and decision-makers within an organization are armed with solid insights, and are making decisions based on a single, centralized and accurate “source of truth.”

“Anything that can be measured can be improved.” – Michael Dell

The founder of Dell, Inc., drives home another feature of successful business intelligence … good BI makes an organization better. For example, using a robust BI system, executives can monitor whether they are on track with a capital budget, C-level staff can receive alerts when critical metrics have reached specific thresholds, and VPs can monitor key performance indicators and better align strategic plans and goals. There can also be great value in knowing your company’s profit per square foot of space, profit per customer visit or the number of sales leads and conversions.

With the technology behind BI, the possibilities are practically endless. There is no longer any reason why an organization should be “flying by the seat of its pants.” A solid business intelligence strategy will set it on a course to greater success.

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