Every business wants to be successful. That success always comes from growth. With most businesses, growth comes from customer retention and gaining new customers. “Business Intelligence” can help a company gain new customers and retain old customers. Business intelligence can be abbreviated BI. A formal definition of business intelligence is that it is a process of collecting information in the area of business. In BI, data collected is enhanced into information and then into knowledge. Business Intelligence can give any business an accurate idea of its customers’ needs. Businesses that have large amounts of information about their customers can act upon that information. Businesses utilizing BI gain knowledge and understanding of a customer’s needs, customer’s decision-making process, and economic, cultural, and technological trends. When using businesses intelligence, businesses select either short term or long goals. BI helps a company reach those goals.
Business Intelligence History
The idea of business intelligence goes back to Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.” Tzu believed that in order to win a war, you must have complete knowledge of your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your the enemy. This is the central idea in present-day business intelligence. Companies must know themselves better than their competitors, and they must know their competitors better. War and business are a lot alike considering that with BI, one must sift through heaps of data (both external and internal) for management to then make strategies for where to take the business and marketing. Warfare involves strategic plans as well. BI is the process of gaining information about every element of your market. Simply understanding the customer is not enough; a business must understand its competitors, and itself.
KPI, Key Performance Indicators
The present state of business is assed by the use of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in business intelligence. As more companies implement KPI, data is becoming available to business faster and more efficiently. Data used to be available for business only after one or two months. This untimely availability did not help business adjust their strategies. More recently, banks have tried to make data available sooner and with shorter intervals. Banks do this especially for businesses that have higher credit/operational risk loading. This allows many companies to get new data weekly, and adjust their strategies faster than ever before, leading to increased customer satisfaction and retention.
When using business intelligence, a company has to collect a vast amount of information. BI tools can help businesses store, organize, and even collect business data. Some data tools are data warehouses, data modeling, and data mining. Using data tools helps to improve the efficiency of business intelligence. While data tools are used for organization, Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) is used in the analyzing process. OLAP is commonly referred to as simple Analytics, which is based on the hypercube or “cube” dimensional analysis.
There are also vendors who help business with business intelligence. A vendor provides a company with the business intelligence tools and support needed for the successful implementation of a business process. Siebel Systems, Microsoft, Altius Consulting, Business-Soft, and SAS Institute are just a few of the companies offering business intelligence tools and support.
The better a business understands its market (everything from the customer to its competitors), the more effective that business can be. Businesses that have as complete, 360-degree understanding of what their customers need and want will be better able to devise successful strategies and implement successful processes to make their business thrive. Business intelligence is the path that businesses can take to achieve their goals, which can be either short-term or long-term. Some may wonder about the ROI of business intelligence. No doubt, if a company ends up gaining many customers, and retaining current customers as a result of business intelligence, then it will be a positive ROI. Business intelligence, if implemented correctly, and efficiently, can only help a company.
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