What You Need to Know About Business Intelligence (BI) and Reporting

Being good at what you do is important in any business, but to ensure your success you need to plan ahead. In the modern age, that means using your business’ most valuable asset – big data. By drawing on Business Intelligence and reporting software, you’re able to make sense of the data available, and work out the best way it can work for you.

What is Business Intelligence?

BI software retrieves, analyses and transforms data for Business Intelligence. BI software generally analyses historical data that has been stored in a data warehouse and is typically more relevant for management and business owners.

What is reporting?

Business intelligence reporting is also the process of gathering data using software and tools to extract relevant insights. This provides suggestions related to business trends that empower decision-makers. However, reporting is more often more useful for financial or operational staff.

How are BI and reporting beneficial for business?

There are many ways that both BI and reporting can drive your business growth. To give you a better idea of this innovative software, here’s a look at the benefits offered.

     – Speeds up workflow

With quality BI software, all your data sources are centralised allowing one point of access for all company employees – even those not in the IT department! This software also speeds up the process of creating a comprehensive BI report so that analyses can be done and decisions made without wasting any time.

     –  Access to relevant data

The digital age has resulted in an overwhelming amount of data which is stored across a number of sites. Your BI and reporting tools are able to draw on this voluminous and disparate data. Reporting in BI can also access historical data, as well as real-time data. This is then transformed into an easy-to-understand visual representation, which also picks up on any business anomalies.

     – Improved data quality

It’s not just about accessing vast quantities of data; it’s about getting all the value out of the data so that you’re drawing on quality data as well. Business Intelligence and reporting provides you with clear-cut data intelligence at a rapid rate.

     – Comprehensive reports

BI software makes the daunting task of creating a report that much easier. If your company needs department-focused reporting – such as finance, sales, marketing and HR – your BI and reporting tools will be able to provide this. This gives a healthy and holistic view of your business operations.

     – Useful customer insights

If your company has lost focus of the customer, then it isn’t going to survive. Understanding and meeting the needs and demands of your customers will ensure you continue to survive in any market. BI tools will give you valuable insights into your customers’ emotional needs and predict consumer behaviour so that you can provide them with a beneficial user experience.

     – Better decision-making

Business reporting tools provide senior staff with the ability to formulate fact-based strategies that will enable business growth. This is because they’re using data to their advantage, spotting trends – both good and bad – that are emerging within the sector.

     – Manage employee performance

Another benefit of BI software is that it can assist in employee performance management. With centralised access to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), you can identify trends in productivity – or a lack of productivity – so you can better manage your employees.

How do I choose a BI reporting tool?

The benefits of BI and reporting are extensive, but choosing the right BI reporting tool can be daunting. That’s why we’ve give you an overview of what things to consider when choosing the right reporting tool.

     1. What your BI reporting tool for?

Before even considering the BI reporting options, you need to decide exactly what it is that you want it to address. Outline your company’s current challenges so that as you peruse the various BI features, you don’t get caught up in those you don’t actually need. Your BI tool should make insights clearer, rather than complicating operations even more.

     2. Who will use the BI reporting tool?

Think about who will actually be using the BI reporting tool in your operation as well as who will be maintaining it. They must be included in the decision as they can assist in determining what issues need to be addressed, and what features are actually required. Your tool will generally be fore business-focused users or analyst-focused users:

  • Business-focused tools have a user-friendly interface, filtering, drill-downs, drag-and-drop queries and computed fields.
  • Analyst-focused tools allow the user to run sophisticated reporting with more functionality than the previous users.

     3. Where does the data stay?

When considering the BI software, you need to analyse where your data is held, whether on-cloud or on-premises, as the BI tool will need to integrate with your data sources. Most BI solutions are able to integrate with a data warehouse which is helpful for historical data. However, if you require real-time analysis then you’ll need to ensure the tool integrates with this storage.

     4. What features do you need in your BI dashboard?

Once you’ve gone over the first three points you can start to look at the various features available on the BI and reporting software to decide which suits you. Some things to consider include: 

  • Data access: The modern, mobile age means you could require access to your BI dashboard at any time of day and from anywhere. That’s why you might want to consider a dashboard with non-restricted access.
  • Metrics: You will need to decide what metrics are relevant to your business so that the BI tools are operating to serve your needs. This provides more accurate insights with minimal data redundancy.
  • Customisation: BI tools should be accessible to all employees, not only the technically-minded individuals. That means implementing a BI dashboard that is customised to the user needs.
  • Storytelling: You will also want a dashboard that is capable of relaying an inspiring story that will resonate with the audience, from employees to stakeholders.

Tips for creating a quality BI report

Once you have the right BI tools, making a BI report is that much easier, but there are always ways to make it better. Here are some tips to think about when crafting the BI report.

Tip#1: Ask the right questions

Great software has built-in question-asking abilities but you must ensure you’re asking the right questions for your business.

Tip#2: It’s a story

When creating a BI report remember that you’re telling a story and not simply relaying numbers. This gives people an idea of the real-life implications of the numbers behind the report.

Tip#3: Aesthetics are important

The visual aesthetics of your BI report will make a major impact on the stakeholders involved. Good software will allow you to customise the colour schemes, graph types, shapes and categories into something really engaging.

Tip#4: Simplicity is key

BI reporting features are impressive, but you need to learn how to use them selectively. By trying to include too many, you overcomplicate what is supposed to be an easy-to-understand process. Try to simplify the report and bring across the key information clearly.

Tip#5: Context adds value

Information without context is completely meaningless. Make sure your report outlines why the information is important, followed up with calls to action. You need to contextualise the situation and then outline the best course of action to be followed.

Canvas Intelligence provides you with real-time business data in insightful, easy-to-manage dashboard reports on your mobile phone, laptop or tablet. The BI system will connect to several data sources, simplify data preparation, and provide you with a clear, customised report that can be published across multiple platforms.

Contact Canvas Intelligence for the ultimate BI and reporting solutions that provide actionable insights to drive your business results.

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