The power of data can't be understated, especially in the current competitive business environment. As the capabilities of analytical software and data collection improve, so do the opportunities and information available to business owners and decision-makers.
Data of all kinds have long impacted business decisions, even when accounting ledgers were maintained on paper and financial reports were written out by hand. However, today's tools have only amplified the possibilities, creating a veritable avalanche of critical numbers and metrics.
For modern businesses seeking a way forward, business intelligence can be a major asset. The ability to properly process, sort, and streamline available data can be a vital skill, helping you to keep your thumb on the pulse of every aspect of operations.
What Is Business Intelligence (BI)?
The idea of business intelligence can be a little intimidating, especially for those without experience in data mining and analytical processing. However, the overarching concept is quite straightforward.
In essence, business intelligence is an umbrella term that describes an analysis of critical business information-driven by technological solutions. Using business intelligence, more colloquially known as BI, companies are able to highlight crucial information, explore progress versus goals, and identify strategies that can move a company forward. Combining aspects of financial analysis, data analytics, and computer programming, BI can provide necessary insight into what your business is doing right – and where it can be improved.
Why Does BI Matter?
Business intelligence is a burgeoning area gaining traction across a multitude of industries. But what can it really do for you?
The answer, of course, is a lot. BI can unlock a new world of awareness, helping you to better identify strengths, discern shortcomings, and guide actionable decision-making.
Improved Business Insights
Preventative care is important in personal wellness, but it's important in business as well. After all, that's why internal finance departments exist: to monitor current performance, project future performance, and identify issues before it's too late.
Business intelligence takes this a step further, going beyond an income statement to create a holistic view of a company's well-being. With the right assortment of data, companies can answer the important questions that influence business decisions, highlighting everything from revenue streams that can maximize the bottom line to recurring expenses that aren't sustainable. For those able to identify key performance indicators and the most applicable metrics, BI can unlock a whole new world of insights.
Enhanced Technological Tools
Why comb through data by hand when you don't have to? BI principles embrace the use of technological solutions, employing intelligent software to collect, aggregate, and report on impactful data.
The utilization of tech solutions can enhance the flow of business dramatically, adding a whole new frontier of reporting possibilities. While many companies utilize software for financial management, like Oracle Hyperion and TM1, BI software takes these aggregation and reporting concepts to the next level. At Enkel, we utilize Power BI, a Microsoft business analytics suite to assist our clients with consolidating information from multiple data sources, streamlining data preparation, and facilitating ad-hoc reporting.
Making Smarter Business Decisions
Ostensibly, advances in business often serve one purpose above all else: to help you make smarter decisions. When used effectively, BI can make this easy, giving you new and revolutionary tools with which to guide the progress of your company.
Through the use of BI, it's possible to gain an advantage over your competitors, providing the ability to identify trends and patterns otherwise invisible. Instead of using the same tried and true tactics employed by everyone else, BI offers the chance to customize reporting to your business, offering insights that can set you apart. If you're not satisfied sticking to the status quo, BI boasts a way to drive smarter decisions on even the most granular levels.
Incorporating Business Intelligence into Your Business
For small businesses, especially those without significant experience in data utilization and management, the idea of business intelligence can seem overwhelming. However, this doesn't have to be the case. Companies of all shapes and sizes can make use of BI, improving reporting and better positioning operations for growth and development. Whether you track a lot or a little, BI technology solutions can help you make the most of what you have available.
How We Select and Evaluate Our Recommended Software
We thoroughly research and test the apps we include in our regular workflow for Client bookkeeping services. After deciding on criteria for evaluating the software and then researching the app itself, we tested the app, noting its strengths and weaknesses. We then work with the app for at least a few weeks before deciding whether to recommend it to our readers. We use the software as it was designed for its intended tasks. For a detailed walk-through of how we select and evaluate software, please see the details of our process.