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When Do I Need Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence can be a boon to businesses of all sizes, but BI solutions come at a cost. There are both tangible costs—like the cost of procurement, development and implementation of the software components—and less quantifiable costs. Users have to be trained to use a new tool. Existing processes have to be revised. The size and maturity of a company can have a tremendous impact on these intangible variables.

The important question for executives, then, is when to consider a business intelligence solution. Not if, but when. As mentioned in my last blog, BI primarily solves issues of data visibility and validity. This in turn allows decision-makers to work faster using accurate, timely information. When the total cost of working with slow, inaccurate data exceeds the costs of implementation, it is time to consider implementing a business intelligence solution.

Visibility: BI when you’re flying high

As businesses grow, individual departments and divisions begin to exercise greater amounts of autonomy. Decisions that were once left to the president are delegated to managers and vice presidents.  This is how businesses grow.

However, executives must still make decisions that affect the entirety of a company. Information—data, statistics, revenues, and analysis—must “bubble up” from those departments and divisions. This places an increasing burden on individuals through the organizational hierarchy to present this data in an accurate and standardized way.  Furthermore, this process introduces many modes of failure, from ignoring important organizational trends to misrepresenting data points to losing the raw data through aggregation.

Business intelligence solutions provide an automated way to bubble information directly from its point of origin to stakeholders throughout an organization, from mid-level management to the executive tier. Executives can trust that their numbers and results are based upon the raw metrics that power their organization. They can even “drill” into the aggregated data to see those raw data points.

Visibility, then, is an important factor to take into account when considering a business intelligence solution.  If raw data is prohibitively removed from the top tier of an organization, it is certainly time to consider automating data analysis through business intelligence.

Timing: BI when you’re flying fast

The growth of an organization places an increasing burden on managers to consolidate their information assets. This translates to additional work, which is an implicit cost to the organization as a whole. This effort also introduces a lag time between the raw metrics and the final report that company leadership receives, which can further impact a business’ bottom line.

Stale data can have a variety of negative impacts upon a growing business. Decision-makers may miss opportunities to pivot their company into new markets. Dated financial information can lead to critical missteps in organizational planning. The concept of feedback—making changes and then responding to their outcomes—depends on fast, up-to-date data on those outcomes.

The use of software-based business intelligence ensures that important metrics and aggregated information are always as up-to-date as possible. Data can be unloaded from business systems as often as technically allowed—daily, hourly, or even more often, depending on the inherent limitations of each system and the infrastructure available to the solution. Forecasting models that depend on organizational data are guaranteed to be as accurate.

It is also critical to weigh the importance of timing when considering a business intelligence solution. When reports and metrics are no longer reaching decision-makers in a timely manner, or the timing leaves much to be desired, then business intelligence may be the solution.

Looking for more information on optimizing your implementation? Sign up for a BI consultation today!


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