Importance of Business Intelligence in Today's World

Date:   Wednesday , August 31, 2016

Headquartered in Hyderabad, Helical IT Solutions is an IT software company specializing in Open Source Data Warehousing & Business Intelligence. It integrates disparate data sources and enables users with powerful interactive tools like balanced scorecards, personalized dashboards, key performance indicators, automated alerts, and more.

It is noticed that on an average, a manager spends more than two hours per day of his working trying to do data analysis, and later half of that information turns out to be useless, as per Cindi Howson in her book on BI in 2007. We are living in an era where the amount of data generated per day is humongous. There are challenges in terms of volume of data as well as its variety. There are myriad data sources and types like personal, financial, sales data and many others, and organizations are using various softwares like ERP, HRM, CRM, and Tally for this purpose. Databases are many, like MySQL, Oracle, DB2, Postgres and lately big ones like MongoDB for managing the huge data.

Data generated today is in a highly unstructured format, so decision makers struggle a lot in extracting right information and make good business decisions. Here, Business Intelligence plays pivotal role in providing accuracy in information and showing a profitable path.

Business Intelligence (BI) refers to technologies, applications, and practices for collection, integration, analysis and presentation of data in a human understandable format. A rightly implemented BI system can provide you right information at right time and in right format. Any department or industry which generates data and wants insight of it, a BI tool is relevant to them. Here are few examples of BI use in various departments:

1. Marketing Department - Analyze the campaigns\' performance, allocate budget to campaigns yielding better results, view promotional yield, social media benchmarking and many others.

2. Sales - Finding the best path and practices, customer acquisition cost, and improvement in yearly turnover and sales.

3. Inventory - Monitoring and adjusting inventory levels, monitoring delays and loss, and keeping check of inventory cost.

4. Human Resource - Tracking and managing employee turnover, attrition rate, recruitment process, and probability of an employee leaving.

BI usage has resulted in improved performance and better bottom line across various sectors like finance, telecom, healthcare, NGO and many more. The movie \'Moneyball\' that had six nominations at the Academy Awards, elucidated the efficiency of BI - FEBREZE marketing campaign is aided by BI, and sales now hit over $1 billion annually. Correct usage of BI can help in reducing opex by up to 50 percent, and FT used high-end BI functionality growth of 20 percent. The U.S. government uses BI to assign tasks to its police personnel.

Which BI Tools to Use?

Below are some of the factors which could be considered while selecting a BI tool -

Spontaneity: Today, business users are looking for instant data analysis and have no time to wait or depend on technical users. Certain BI tools like \'open source BI tool Helical Insight\' are integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning inside BI, thus allowing business users to interact with data and getting instant business answers. Then, there are tools like Wizdee, which are trying to do similar thing.

Interactivity: The various reports and dashboards generated should have a high level of interactivity.

Data Analysis Variety: The BI tool should empower businesses to create anything like report, dashboards, geographical dashboard, statistical and scientific charts and infographs.

Connection to Databases: BI tool has the ability to fetch information by connecting to different databases and web services so that the right information is provided to the stakeholders.

Mobile BI: To create a space for information on mobile phones, tablets and other such devices, BI reports, dashboards, mash-ups and others are being rendered to be compatible with on-the-go devices.

Application Integration: BI tool should be an easily integral device, and be compatible with the existing application/portal/software, irrespective of its developed software of PHP, Java, Ruby, C or any other platform.

Licensing Model: Based on the kind of technology stack and language preference, companies can go for either open source or proprietary software like Sisense and Spotfire.

Feature Extensions: Presently, BI vendors follow a closed-garden approach and offer certain out-of-the-box features such as caching, database connections, charting, and exporting. However, if business needs to transcend general requirements, then we are at cross-roads, and the user is forced to look for alternative solutions outside of the BI tool. That\'s the reason why companies like Helical have raised the bar for BI tools with their SOA driven framework, allowing clients to use the APIs, add functionalities and built plug-in on top.

Apart from these features, there are other factors like speed, in-memory analytics, cloud BI, and security, to name a few, which could be considered. Hence BI can help companies in tracking and measuring a right metric and thus make better decisions.