Beginner's Guide for Business Intelligence Buyers

January 19, 2021

Are you a first-time business intelligence (BI) buyer and wondering if and how it can help your business? Well, you are in the right place, as this post gives you the basic knowledge of what business intelligence is and how it can help your organization. 

There was a time when IT was steering businesses, especially the data analytics department. Businesses were always after the data analysis before rolling out their business intelligence (BI) projects. However, the evolution of technology has ushered in a multitude of business intelligence solutions. 

What is Business Intelligence

Business intelligence (BI) refers to software solutions that can help transform your company's data into valuable insights. These analytics identify feasible and actionable strategies that you can use to make tactical business decisions. 

You can use business intelligence to analyze the information and data and formulate summaries, charts, graphs, reports, and roadmaps. These graphical and visual representations can offer your business a detailed insight into where your business or a certain project currently stands. 

How Business Intelligence Can Help

With all these valuable insights into your business operations, you can re-imagine your business. The analytics BI offers to your business can offer you a competitive edge over other competitors. 

BI solution can generate individual data analysis reports. However, you can consolidate all your data via a dashboard provided in a software application. That said, business intelligence is a pure analytics solution and does not predict a definite outcome if you deploy a strategy. 

Business intelligence will help you understand the data and derive an analytical insight based on your business's data legacy. 

For example, suppose you are a manufacturer wishing to improve your production operations. BI solution can help you identify the areas causing delays, functions you can improve to enhance productivity, etc. 

Identifying Business Intelligence Users in Your Business

Before you start shopping for a BI solution, you must research a little bit into the types of business intelligence users within your business. You must figure out which users or departments in your company will be using data analytics and it is going to benefit them or present new sets of challenges. 

Let us have a quick look at typical business intelligence users. 

  • Basic user – these are your regular employees and will require basic management reports for information. They are not responsible or have the training to analyze the data but only use the information offered via the BI dashboard to improve their relevant operations. 
  • The Advanced Users – these are the managers such as sales managers, marketing managers, service managers, etc. These users have the right skills to analyze, organize, and present the data and insights to the high-level management to make informed decisions. 
  • Executives - refer to senior management-level employees who can define the KPIs with the authority to make changes to boost your business growth. Like basic users, they do not have the skills to analyze the data but use it to reduce costs, improve productivity, and make profits. 
  • The Analytics – These are the BI gurus of your organization as they excel at collecting, analyzing, organizing, and presenting data in numerical as well as visual formats. These users look at statistics and create a logical argument for you to make productive decisions. These users also forecast new data patterns, trends and even discover new insights. 
  • IT Department – They are the masterminds responsible for integrating the business intelligence solution into your company's infrastructure. Moreover, they will be bifurcating the employees into different user groups and assign their roles. The IT department aims to close the gap between the business intelligence solution and business operations to make the most of your newly found game changer. 

Prerequisites for Rolling Out BI 

Now that you know about the business intelligence solutions and how they can help the user groups in your business, it is time to prepare for the rollout. However, there are some basic requirements you must consider before implementing business intelligence. 

  • Defining the Ground Rules

The first thing to consider is to establish the rules and effectively implement the business intelligence solution. You must determine the role of each user, what data they will receive, and how frequently. This will help your business to make strategic decisions. 

  • Modes to Access BI

You must consider carefully how you would want your BI users to access it. For example, traveling users such as senior management and sales personnel will need remote access to the content. Plus, you will have to optimize the data analysis in formats supported by various devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. 

  • Technical Skills of User Groups

If you are a first-time business intelligence buyer, chances are your users do not have any skills or technical knowledge of how to use BI. Therefore, it is highly likely that most of the employees will be consuming the data insight to make informed decisions. 

You must identify the users with the required skill set to analyze the data or may need the training to use the BI. If the users have prior knowledge about ERPs and advanced Excels, this may help them adapt to using the new business intelligence solution. 

  • Define the Job Roles

You must do some homework on what will be the role of each user group when using BI. You must also consider how business intelligence solution will enhance their current job roles.

For example, the sales and marketing team will use the data to create more effective campaigns. On the other hand, senior executives will use the data insights to evaluate KPIs and work on areas of improvement.

Ask these Questions as a First Time BI Buyer

Here are some additional questions you must ask when choosing a BI solution for your business. 

  • How will your employees benefit from the new BI?
  • What formats will be ideal for your business model? Whether you will need purely numerical data or your user groups will benefit from other forms of data such as graphs, charts, dashboards, etc. 
  • What other functionalities will your user group need? Such as report-building, ad-hoc queries, search for data, filters to sort out data, etc. 

The Take-Away

As a first-time buyer, you must choose a BI solution that can offer a complete package with all the functionalities your organization needs. This will help with smooth integration and allow a one-stop platform for all user groups to use and share the information. 

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