Business Intelligence can drive greater profitability,
the analysis of data that is created by companies simply by doing business.
Business intelligence, or BI, is changing the way small
to mid-size companies are making decisions, and it is creating significant
advantages for those that do it well. Being an entrepreneur, you know when it
pertains to decisions that involve the future of your business, how important
information is. Data-driven decision-making helps improve potential outcomes by
reducing speculation in favor of analysis.
Industry experts are all talking about the ways in which
data and BI are becoming essential tools for all business owners. Peter Syndergaard
of Gartner Research summarized the importance of BI when he said, “Information
is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.” These
research firms aren’t only predicting the importance of BI for decision-making
purposes but also thinking about how it can be monetized. A recent report
projects that as many as 10 percent of companies will have profitable
departments focused on “productizing and commercializing” the data they collect
Forrester, another research firm, found that enterprise
data is an untapped resource for most organizations. It reported that a mere 40
percent of enterprise data is ever used to enhance operations. Organizations
that can use that information to improve existing processes will likely see
significant improvements in their strategies, and those that learn how to
market and sell that data will achieve higher revenues.
The three major trends that are essential for business
owners to know to better leverage BI for their organizations are stated below:
1. Self-service BI for small business.
Until recently, big data was inaccessible for smaller
organizations. But the increase of platforms that allow self-service BI
solutions is providing access to anyone who wants to evaluate the data that
drives their business. Many organizations that leverage internal data collect
it from multiple processes or departments, which makes it difficult to
aggregate in a way that makes sense for everyone. This is especially
challenging for large organizations that have much more data to process. The
result is often data-centric blind spots that open the company up to
The CEO of USEReady, Uday Hegde explains how companies
are consolidating these functions. “Businesses are shifting toward using
application program interfaces (APO) to transfer their data to user-friendly
applications. As a result, they can trade clunky dashboards for more useful
apps. Converting to an app-centric approach empowers companies to make their
data more interactive across multiple connected devices. Self-reliant solutions
help businesses make data more actionable.” USEReady is an organization that
works to help business leaders leverage data and analytics.
2. Data for visualization.
The good news is data is becoming more and more useful,
as there are more companies working to provide quality data visualization that
is geared toward being accessible to even the less technical members of the
The companies such as Tableau, Domo and IBM are all
innovating at a rapid pace, aiming to gain market share by helping their
customers improve the usefulness of their data. Tableau released its own
predictions about where data analytics are headed in the coming year, highlighting
visualization as the second most important development in big data.
3. Security for data.
As applications being self-serviced started to
democratize data for companies, and visualization helps more members of the
organization access and comprehend crucial information, the need for securing
that information increases. More people accessing and sharing data means more
opportunities for proprietary data to leak, and more potential points for
Gartner estimates that by 2018 20 percent of
organizations will be looking to develop sound data security governance plans
to protect themselves from data breaches on the cloud. Those that fail to do so
will likely encounter damaging security breaches and subsequent fallout.
Organizations such as USEReady tries an integrated
approach, helping companies use business intelligence tools while creating
plans for securing their data. Hegde explains, “BI systems in large
organizations often create security challenges when not managed correctly. It
is important for these businesses to evaluate their data infrastructure and
create governance strategies to keep it secure.” Businesses that successfully
integrate security into all data applications will help prevent the hardships
that come from breaches.
BI and big data have enormous potential for improving the
quality of decisions and strategies. Companies that leverage self-service tools
to collect and present their data to all members of the team will increase the
number of informed decision makers and will likely see an increase in
operational efficiency and business performance.
Hegde reminds us that effective business intelligence,
“empowers leaders to ask crucial questions, the answers to which will help them
make better decisions about allocating limited resources, how to refine
processes, and where to place people.” In doing so, business owners,
entrepreneurs and leaders can identify opportunities for growth, while limiting
the potential for risk.