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What is business intelligence?

business intelligence

Posted By Pinar Dost ⋅ September 10, 2020

You’ve no doubt heard the term ‘business intelligence’, but what exactly does it mean?

In essence, business intelligence (BI)* refers to the way in which data from an organisation’s software, tools and systems can be used to gain actionable insight. By digging into these sources of data, often going back years, BI applications seek to find new snippets of information that can benefit the business in some way.

These days, business intelligence is often synonymous with complex data mining and detailed data analytics, although really, the insight BI uncovers should offer clear and tangible next steps for improvement.

The idea is that analysing all the different types of data and information a business holds and generates at once, as BI applications do, will bring visibility and clarity to your data and reveal as yet undiscovered opportunities for improvement.

Business intelligence helps businesses to make relevant business decisions and take action based on what the data tells us. In today’s commercial space, it is the organisations that use business intelligence to create their strategies that stay ahead of their competition.

What are the advantages of business intelligence?

So, the aim of business intelligence is to reveal actionable insights that’s of value to an organisation, but of value how?

It could be a data trend that helps refine a marketing plan, or a change in consumer preferences that reveals a need for a new product or service. Or, BI might unearth insight that helps a business improve its internal processes, such as a way to automate a time-consuming admin task that has always been done manually. It could even hit upon a new way to track company performance – business intelligence that creates new streams of data, which can then be analysed by BI itself. With the right analysis, there’s no limit to the sort of benefits business intelligence can help an organisation achieve.  

Business intelligence tools and applications analyse data and information from within the business itself, so no two BI investigations will reveal the same things. What’s found will be based completely in the present and historical context of the business in question.

Examples of business intelligence

Business intelligence requires deep data analysis, but that doesn’t mean BI applications should be difficult to interpret. Quite the opposite, in fact. An effective BI tool should visualise its findings in a clear, user-friendly way, so that business managers and directors can act on the insight it reveals, without any knowledge or experience of data analysis themselves.

That’s the thinking behind our own Business Intelligence solution, which we have designed to be quick, easy and cost-effective to deploy so you can start gleaning actionable data insight as rapidly as possible. The solution gives you a set of user-friendly dashboards, which present key insights such as sales performance and attribution, communication and engagement rates and value KPIs – or whatever it is your business needs to know – through simple and impactful visualisations. All the data crunching and analysis goes on behind the scenes, while you gain the kind of data insight you can use to take your business forward.

BI works for countless brands and businesses around the world, including Coca-Cola Bottling Co., the soft drink giant’s largest independent bottling partner. With such a vast global operation, CCBC used to lose huge amounts of time to manual sales and delivery reporting, until it adopted a business intelligence solution. Now, the BI solution automates these reports, which has saved over 260 hours a year – or more than six 40-hour working weeks. This means sales teams can access the data they need via mobile devices in the field, for better and more efficient customer service.

Ready to learn more about our Business Intelligence solution? Get in touch with our friendly team today to find out more.


* Where did the term ‘business intelligence’ come from? 

Our modern incarnation of business intelligence is undoubtedly a post-internet phenomenon, but according to many historians, the term was originally coined way back in 1865. Mr. Richard Miller Devens talked about business intelligence in his book, Cyclopædia of Commercial and Business Anecdotes. Devens wrote about how Sir Henry Furnese, a successful banker, had gained a competitive advantage by actively gathering information and acting on it before anyone else.

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