/ How your business can use BI reporting analytics to gain a competitive edge

How your business can use BI reporting analytics to gain a competitive edge

As the world shifts towards more and more digital mediums, the demand for accessible data analytics is rapidly increasing.

Business Intelligence (BI) is one such growing segment of business that is giving rise to a whole new industry dedicated to providing actionable insights from vast pools of collected data.

The traditional methods of analyzing businesses typically only focused on numerical data such as sales figures and of course, financial information which was readily available from public records and tax returns.

In today’s day of modern technological advancements, the Internet has opened up a whole new world to analysis with social media becoming one of the main sources for getting an insight into what people are actually thinking about your business.

Added to this is the multitude of data that comes in from your website analytics, customer surveys, and of course the mundane day-to-day business dealings.

In this article, we will focus on some of the major areas where you can implement a BI reporting strategy with examples from some of the major players in this industry.

 
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What is BI reporting analytics?

Business intelligence is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of tools for collecting, analyzing, and reporting business data.

This covers the tools for finding trends in past performance, predicting future performance, or simply monitoring current performance.

Specifically, BI reporting analytics are reports created from collected data intended to provide insights into what your customers are wanting from you and how they will be affected by your business decisions.

Data analytics can provide information that would have otherwise been extremely time-consuming to collect. They are able to analyze how trends are developing over months, weeks, or even days on a granular level so that you can make more informed decisions about the future of your business.

 

What are some common BI reporting tools?

There are several BI reporting tools out there, including desktop software and cloud-based business intelligence services.

Desktop business intelligence software

Desktop applications are common, and they can provide very basic reports that you can prepare yourself with minimal special training.

These tools may be great for individual users that are looking to perform simple analysis on their own, but it does not scale well when multiple employees need access to the same data or when you want team members to be able to share insights with each other.

Cloud-based BI analytics

Cloud-based business intelligence services offer several benefits compared to desktop tools. They typically provide a more user-friendly experience, and you can often build your own reports or choose from a library of pre-built ones.

Most cloud BI tools also allow teams to work together on the same reports at the same time, which is not possible with desktop software unless you use a VPN.

On top of that, cloud BI tools are more affordable than most desktop options that you would have to purchase yourself.

 
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From BI analytics to reporting dashboards

BI analytics is the term used to describe an organization’s ability to access and analyze large volumes of data in order to gain insight into business performance. Analytics can then be surfaced to end-users via dashboards.

In other words, BI analytics refers to an organization’s ability to generate useful business information from massive amounts of unstructured and structured data: social media posts, e-commerce transactions, website activity, emails, surveys, blogs, and more. Once those insights have been discovered, they are relayed via a visual dashboard containing metrics, graphs, and insights.

BI analytics is needed in order to support the overall business decision-making process.

It allows us to determine what factors are positively or negatively affecting our business (and how), how these factors compare with those of our competitors (if applicable), which opportunities exist where we can improve our business (and how), and which decisions we should make to optimize our business performance.

 

Tips for better BI analytics reporting

There are a few tips that you can follow in order to get the most out of your business intelligence.

1. Start with your goals

Before you start looking for BI tools and building reports, make sure that you know what information you want to be able to report on.

This includes the questions that you want to be answered, such as:

  • How many total users do we have? How many daily active users?
  • How much money has each user spent on average?
  • Which marketing initiatives are driving the most traffic? Which ones are delivering the highest quality leads?
  • What features of our website does our audience use the most often, and which do they rarely use? What pages do they spend their most time on when using the site?
  • What are our customers’ biggest pain points when using our product, service, or website? What do they wish we could improve about the experience?

Once you know what your goals are, you can start learning more about the tools that are available to help you answer these questions.

2. When possible, rely on automation

Regardless of how you plan on using BI analytics reporting, it’s best to automate as much as humanly possible.

Automation will save you time and give you access to more and better data than you would be able to get on your own. Not only can it save you time, but it will also open up a lot of opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to take advantage of.

3. Make full use of your data sources

There are several different kinds of data sources out there, and each one can provide a wealth of information about the business and its customers in a unique way. The more data sources you have access to, the better.

4. Avoid overusing reporting software

Many BI analytics tools and reporting dashboards actually come with a ton of features that you will never use, which can make it difficult to know where to start. If this happens, try not to get discouraged; it’s easier than you think.

Pick a couple of data sources and start with those; you can always add more later.

5. Be sure to track who is using the reports and why they are interested in the information that’s being presented

This way, you’ll have a good idea about who should be able to see what, as well as a better sense of which reports and data sources actually provide value to the business.

6. Keep an open mind about new features and functionalities

BI analytics tools are constantly evolving, so it’s important that you stay up-to-date with their latest features and capabilities. The more open you are to using these new features, the better equipped you will be to take advantage of new opportunities that are made available to you.

 
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How to utilize your reporting analytics effectively

Once you have your BI reporting software established, it’s important to know how to use it effectively. Here are a few tips on getting the most out of your business intelligence solutions:

Keep things fresh

It can be difficult to do this if other people in your organization aren’t doing the same, but it will help keep things interesting and will allow you to stay on top of the newest features.

Be sure to use filters, date ranges, and other variables when applicable

Utilizing these variables can help you gain deeper insights into your reporting analytics by allowing you to refine your results so that they are only including the information that is actually relevant.

Be open to testing different algorithms for generating reports

If the same types of algorithms are being utilized, then you may end up with similar information every time. Be sure to test these different algorithms so that you can get a better understanding of your BI reporting software’s capabilities.

Try out other technologies in addition to your current reporting tools

This can help you to get a better sense of how your business intelligence tools can work alongside other resources that are available. When you’re open to testing different technologies and finding out which ones work best with your current toolset, you will be much better off in the long run.

Keep an eye on your reporting analytics trends, but don’t fear change

The more that you learn about how people interact with reporting tools like BI analytics dashboards, the easier it will be to adapt and make changes so that you can stay ahead of the competition.

Share the reports with interested parties whenever possible

Depending on who has access to your reporting analytics, it may be difficult to determine what information will actually be useful.

By sharing reports with interested parties, you can help them create better reports for themselves, which will provide a better understanding of the business as a whole.

 

Conclusion

Reporting analytics is a key aspect of most businesses. By properly leveraging reporting software, you can help your organization become more efficient and productive.

The key is knowing how to utilize reporting analytics effectively. By leveraging certain strategies, you’ll be able to take advantage of the many opportunities that are presented by BI software.

The more you know about your reporting tool’s capabilities, who is using them, and what information they need, the better off you will be in the long run.

Take the time now to invest in the proper BI analytics dashboards, and watch as your business grows and evolves into something that is even better than you could have imagined.

Check out some related resources:

Eckerson on Actionable Intelligence

10 Ways to Turn Data into Actionable Insights

How a UnitedHealth Group technology unit built better customer experiences

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