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Business Intelligence 101: Identify new business opportunities and achieve operational efficiency

October 14, 2019

It’s crazy to imagine that by 2020, every person will generate 1.7 megabytes of data each second! The days of slow communication and occasional snail mail are long over. We generate data without thinking about it - using apps, paying with credit cards, and even shopping online for groceries.

It’s no secret that companies use this data to improve our customer experience and gain insights for strategic business decisions. Well, that’s what they should be doing anyway. But to do so, they need to have a tool and system to process data and gain valuable information. The problem? There’s just too much data on different ends to be processed in spreadsheets and shared across departments.

That’s why a business intelligence (BI) solution is needed. It helps you produce actionable reports and can often work with raw data. However, since you want to be working with the best information you can gather, make sure to clean and enrich your data first. These reports are made in a fraction of the time that spreadsheets take and are always fresh. It allows anyone to monitor business metrics in real-time.

So, throw away your spreadsheet and discover:

  • What BI is exactly
  • How BI works
  • Why it’s important

What is Business Intelligence?

BI is a set of technologies, processes and methodologies that convert datasets into dashboards and visualizations. They transform data into actionable insights and knowledge which are presented in the form of slick, easy-to-understand reports, graphs, summaries, and more.

BI turns raw data into something that business professionals can understand. However, each specific use case depends on the individual company’s requirements. A BARC Research and Eckerson Group study found that dashboard reporting (76%), ad-hoc analysis (57%), and dashboard authoring are the top cloud business intelligence use cases.

The Economist used BI for improving customer experience.

Even old-school media outlets such as The Economist understand the importance of data-driven decision making with the help of BI. Before deciding to implement a BI tool (Looker), they were facing problems with offering many different products across various channels, creating different customer experiences and journeys. Although each team gathered and measured outcomes, those outcomes weren’t consolidated across the company so it was hard to compare them. It was even more challenging to make strategic decisions based on that dispersed and scattered data.

They decided to import all the data into a single data warehouse and use a BI tool to answer real-time questions about customers and performance. The result? The Economist Group gathers insights faster than ever before. They tap into the intelligence of customer preferences, web behaviors, subscriptions and interests to determine which new products to offer. They use advertising that resonates with specific target groups and create personalized offers that help to retain customers in the long run.

How does Business Intelligence work?

Business Intelligence products need data to create visual presentations and insights. Therefore, it all comes down to your data location and how you’re collecting it.

First, raw data from different sources needs to be extracted. These sources can differ significantly and range from analytic apps such as Google Analytics, to your own CRM software and even Facebook Ads. By having many data sources, you can easily track different strategic and cross-departmental metrics.

Second, the raw data is enriched, transformed, and stored within a data warehouse. This process is called ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) process. You can create an internal data pipeline which is costly, time consuming, and quickly becomes outdated. Thus, it is better to use platforms such as Keboola. They can be up-and-running in minutes, with no additional IT skills needed.

Only when your data has been cleaned and transformed can you begin gaining insight and creating dashboards in BI tools. Different platforms enable different functionalities and features. In Looker, for example, dashboards are created only once. Submitting questions with running queries is so easy that anyone from your company will be able to do it.

Why is it important?

Even though a lot has been written regarding centralizing data, creating dashboards and making data-driven decisions on a company level, there are also several other factors worth mentioning.

In general, BI has several benefits. Here are a few of them:

  • Fast-track the decision-making process

BI doesn’t just increase the speed of decisions - it also improves the quality of those decisions as well. A survey of 2,600 BI users found that 64% had faster reporting, analysis or planning, 56% had more accurate reporting, analysis or planning, and 49% made better business decisions.

  • Identify new business opportunities

BI enables you to gain insight into different projects. Specifically, it’s extremely easy to track and compare the ROI of your products. By exploring the data further, you’ll not only be able to trace the best performing project, but also identify customers, buyer journeys and other relevant metrics for expanding your business

  • Increase operational efficiency

Companies that use analytics are five times more likely to make quicker decisions. Having a dashboard enables you to view all of your business metrics in one place, which in turn maximizes your efficiency.

  • Improve your internal operations

Having a BI and data management system can significantly reduce engineering hours otherwise needed for gaining insights across scattered data. A lot can be automated and dashboards (especially in Looker) can only be created once. This leaves time for more strategic tasks and empowers everyone within the company to explore the data.

Deliveroo managed to deliver faster with the help of BI.

Deliveroo is a London based company that delivers food on bikes and scooters. It’s an efficient way of delivering food in the crowded capital and is expanding the market for restaurants that wouldn’t offer that service otherwise. They have always been extremely data-driven, so it made sense to develop visualizations and insights with a BI tool that could be implemented across the company.

By enabling everyone to work with the data, they were able to free up their data scientists for more strategic work. For a company that relies strictly on data, this step alone improved their operations and, consequently, boosted their growth.

BI Helps You Work Smarter

Making decisions based on data available leads you to a more strategic approach to operations. Deploying data management solutions, such as Keboola, helps you to gather and process data that, ultimately, quantifies business performance in a form that’s objective and unambiguous.

BI solutions, such as Looker, enable decision-makers to take a detailed look at what makes a company and its customers tick. With the oversight of a dashboard, an individual can pinpoint how processes can be improved and implement an action plan to deliver real business results.

Today, anybody can leverage the power of their data. Want to learn more about making data-driven decisions with Keboola and Looker? Meet us at Looker’s JOIN conference in San Francisco, Nov 5 - 7! Let us know if you can make it.

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