What is Business Intelligence?
Business intelligence (BI) is the set of techniques and tools for the transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes. BI technologies are capable of handling large amounts of unstructured data to help identify, develop and otherwise create new strategic business opportunities. The goal of BI is to allow for the easy interpretation of these large volumes of data. Identifying new opportunities and implementing an effective strategy based on insights can provide businesses with a competitive market advantage and long-term stability.
Effective analysis of your business data is essential for driving and improving performance of your entire organisation, without it, we are simply fumbling about in the dark and hoping to find the right way forward. Even if we did stumble on something good, maintaining and repeating it is near impossible if we can’t measure it.
Many businesses make good use of one of the oldest data analytics tools available, Microsoft Excel. However, the various reports, charts and pivot tables available in excel simply aren’t scalable enough to cope with the shear volume of data most businesses now produce. Excel isn’t the real problem here, it is a fantastic tool and still one of my favourite desktop applications. The problem is the lack of raw computing power to process that volume, along with the challenge of collating and managing vast quantities of data from multiple sources.
Let’s consider a classic scenario…
“Have that report on my desk on Monday!”
This common cry from the exec team will likely have a manager, or team of managers, frantically pulling data together from a collection of sources and spending a day or more putting this data into a single report that will hopefully mean something to the board when they read it on Monday. There are a number of problems with this:
- Productivity time is lost due to the time involved in creating the report
- There is a risk of data inaccuracy due to potential human error in collating the various data sources
- Once the report is presented to the board, the data is likely out of date and irrelevant
With modern Business Intelligence tools, like Power BI from Microsoft, we can illuminate all of these challenges by connecting all your data sources to a single analytics and report authoring tool which utilises the awesome computing power of the Microsoft data centre backbone. All you need is an Office 365 license and some raw data to start to see the benefit of Power BI.
- Get fast and informative answers, in real time, by asking questions of your data in simple plain language
- Explore your data in new ways through a free-form drag and drop canvas, creating stunning and insightful visuals
- Quickly create single, simple dashboards to drill into the answers you need and access them anywhere, on desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone
In less than 5 minutes you can start creating personalised dashboards and reports on your data, using natural language and drag and drop gestures to find the answers to your most important questions.