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Business Intelligence

By Teresa Hooper

 

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Bill Gates and Collin Hemingway wrote a book in 1999 titled “Business @ the Speed of Thought”.

The book  discusses how business and technology are integrated and shows how digital infrastructure and information networks can help get an edge on the competition.  They refer to business information  as the Digital Nervous System.

Truly a book before its’ time…

Fast forward to 2015 and the rate that business is now required to process, interpret, make decisions and implement is like the Speed of Light let alone your thought processes staying abreast.

So how in a busy day in the office can you use this information to get the best outcomes for your business.

Business Intelligence (BI) software is only one part of a much bigger Digital Nervous System.

You need information to both look forward and backwards as to what has happened in the business, how does it look for the future, and what do I need to do now to change for the best outcomes.

BI helps you better understand the outcomes/solutions you are providing to your current customers as well as identify areas of competitive advantage in your industry to gain new customers and improve your business outcomes.

Customers are not the only component of information outcomes.   Your other business’s stakeholders can benefit as well.

  • Staff – can we improve productivity through identifying and improving processes.
  • Trading Partners – can we drive a better deal with our suppliers both in price, delivery and trading terms.
  • Financiers – put the best picture forward
  • Shareholders – improving their return on investment.

BI

Top Considerations of a Good BI System

  • Ease of access to information within your system – can it be integrated into your existing software/information stores?
  • Can you draw information from multiple data sources?   For example would there be benefit in embedded products such as Google maps?
  • Ease of use – can reports, dashboards, what-if analysis, be developed quickly and efficiently?   What skills will be required within the business to develop the heartbeat of the business?
  • The business needs to identify it’s “touch” points – what are the clear indicators of the business that will allow you to make decisive decisions and proceed with action?
    1. Historical data
    2. Operational Issues
    3. Forecasting
    4. Interfacing actions with results – i.e. Marketing Program with Sales Results.
  • Reporting has to be available in the right format to the right audience i.e.:
    1. Financial Controller -  detailed
    2. Board -  summary
    3. Divisional – specific
  • Portability of information, smart phones, ipads, tablets, email, alerts, etc
  • Who will be utilising the system, finance people, business development people, and/or even your customers to glean better insights into your business?   Will the interface presented to the users suit?
  • Is the tool you have chosen well known in the marketplace?
  • What type of support can you expect to receive?
  • What infrastructure will be required to host the product?  Do I need to have the software in-house or in the cloud?
  • How will you measure the Return of Investment being placed on the funds and time being invested into the process?
  • Is the product scalable as you build on the data being collected?
  • What are the ongoing fees per annum?
  • Does the product provide an API to use with other products?

In our current multi-speed economy perhaps now is the time to look ahead and start implementing best reporting practices into your business so you can capitalise on the next wave of productivity and profitability improvements.

Need help or just want to talk over the options of tools in the marketplace?  Please feel free to touch base with me.

- Teresa

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