Solutions to Business Issues

Problems facing many businesses today

Here is a short non-inclusive list of some of the problems we see businesses being faced with. Most of these can be almost eliminated by a well-implemented Business Intelligence solution. See how many you can recognise from your current enterprise:
  • Getting access to an overview of our company's data takes many employees many hours if not days to prepare.
  • When I get reports from our various departments I sometimes doubt its accuracy as I see conflicting data or conclusions.
  • Only a small subset of our company has the authority, training or skills to analyse our company's data, even when its relevant to a particular department.
  • Sometimes, different groups within our company are unclear about our current corporate strategy, and we have no accurate way to measure the results of the strategy anyway.
  • Where data analysis is taking place in our organisation, it is being done using different software accessing different systems and has been developed by the various departments independently.
  • Our company spends a lot of time and effort gathering data to produce reports on a regular basis.
  • Our CEO relies on his direct reports to gain knowledge about the performance of the various departments of the company.
  • We don't know a great deal of information about our existing customers.
  • We have some kind of data warehouse already which we have seen benefits from but we have yet to do any data mining.
Note: Even if your business has none of the problems above, you can still get great Benefits from a BI Solution. See our Benefits Page for more details.

Solutions from a great Business Intelligence deployment

The easy solution to most of these problems is to implement some kind of Business Intelligence in your organisation. The objectives of a comprehensive Business Intelligence solution are as follows:
  • Build a single set of data representing an accumulation of all relevant data stored within your organisation
  • Define which department needs to see which data in which format. Reports, dashboards, email, intranet, mobile.
  • Establish security and access roles for employees, groups and departments.
  • Build data perspectives, reports, dashboards and other user interfaces accessible by appropriate groups.
To find out more about Business Intelligence in general, please see our Learning Pages.

Phased approach = Phased expense

We recommend a phased approach to your deployment of BI This allows you to incrementally invest whilst at the same time starting to reap the rewards. For example:
  • Start with one department, such as Sales or HR, and add departments of data as you start to reap the benefits of Business Intelligence.
  • Have access to the raw data which can be manipulated in Excel or Report Builder before all your custom ideal reports and dashboards are completed.
  • Become proficient in the concepts of BI during the implementation phase so that you can further customise the exact requirements of your final product.

Solutions for every department

Ultimately, Business Intelligence can add value to almost every area of your enterprise. Here are just some of the ways certain departments might benefit:

Sales and Marketing
  • Understanding customer needs
  • Effect of pricing and promotions
  • Customer segment targetting
  • Marketing strategy development
Finance
  • Budgeting
  • Forecasting
  • Management reporting
  • Financial reporting
Human Resources
  • Recruitment
  • Employee retention
  • Career development
Operations
  • Quality control
  • Production planning
  • Inventory management
Customers
  • Retention
  • Acquisition
  • Relationship management
   

User interface - Dashboards

Business Intelligence solutions are only as good as the user interfaces allowing you to access and visualise the data which has been gathered. A dashboard is a user interface system targeted at executives which is similar to a car's dashboard in that it contains a variety of the most needed information and is easy to read. Also, like a car dashboard, it is broken up into areas or blocks with each block designed to monitor a specific business process or metric. Many of these parts are graphical, like graphs and gauges. Other parts are textual but with maybe some colour highlighting representing a trend of some kind. The blocks are usually in a graphical format like a gauge, indicator or chart, but some blocks contain text with colour highlighting. Dashboards allow managers to monitor departments and key metrics without having to ask anyone for data or a report, and allow:
  • Performance measures to be represented visually
  • Negative trend detection for speedy resolution
  • More accurate, up-to-the-minute data for informed decision making
  • Managers and executives to easily spot efficiencies and inefficiencies
  • Ability to identify new trends
  • See key data from multiple reports
  • Make sure corporate strategies and goals are being followed

User interface - Reporting

Another Business Intelligence user interface is the reporting suite of products. Reporting has been around for decades when it was purely paper-based. It has typically been used throughout the information age as a tool for management to understand their business. However, combined with Business Intelligence technology you get :
  • One consistent set of data across the whole organisation
  • Extremely fast access and querying, compared with a more traditional SQL report
  • Ability to run pre-defined reports on a scheduled or ad-hoc basis and have them published to web servers or auto-emailed, or become a mini part on a corporate dashboard.
  • Show complex graphical representations of data
  • Have interactivity which allows jumping and drilling-down on particular parts of a report
  • Less skilled, non-technical employees can generate completely new custom reports.