Business intelligence or BI refers to skills, processes, technologies, applications and practices used to support business decision-making.
Several factors are analyzed in the process of making high quality decisions. Customers, competitors, business partners, economic environment and forecasts, and internal operations data all play a part in the business intelligence dynamic.
Customers: By collecting customer data, either (POS) Point-of-Sale or surveys and polls owners and managers can use this data to make important business decisions in marketing, budgeting, inventory, demographic targeting, and much more.
Competition: Competitive analysis can help your business in two major ways. First, by analyzing your competitors, you can take the very best of their ideas, and if you're not doing them, add them to your business mix. In addition, knowing each competitor well, allows you to look for areas where you can make your business stand out from them.
Partners: Making sure to use a careful selection process in selecting partners, and that all of your partners deliver on a timely, professional basis and offer affordable prices are keys to making your business run smoothly. Your business is only as good as the company it keeps, so make sure careful pro-active analysis and ongoing assessment is done on partner performance and consistency.
Environment: The economic landscape and especially that of your own particular industry are very important areas of business intelligence to focus on. By analyzing the economic climate, and making your business flexible enough to change with the times to keep up, you can use business intelligence to stay ahead of your competitors who are not keeping up-to-date.
Internal Analysis: Internally, you should analyze your businesses weaknesses and strengths often.Assets, liabilities, credits and debits also need regularly monitoring. (KPI) Key Performance Indicators are one of the most common ways businesses today measure their progress. KPI analysis can be done on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or yearly basis. Business intelligence can help you decide which schedule is right for your company. KPI gives businesses a way of analyzing data, and forming strategies based on that analysis.
Many businesses use outside IT consultants to help them develop a "digital dashboard" to monitor all of their business intelligence data from one central focus point. An outside IT expert can help you design and carry out a network approach, where all BI technologies are able to community with each other, both inside and outside the business. Companies need assurance that they have a sound business intelligence infrastructure in place first, though. A business intelligence consultant can also help your business with this step.
Without a good BI plan, you are doing business in an information vacuum. It is a crucial part of starting, operating and preparing your business for changes. In the years to come, it is those businesses that outwit their competitors through flexibility, competitive analysis, and quick retrieval of crucial data that will stand the test of time.