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Practical Business Intelligence Strategies: Getting the Best ROI

Strong BI Foundations to Fuel Your Business Success

Companies that stand out from the crowd have learned the importance of leveraging information to make the right decisions. These companies respond to market changes quickly, drive inefficiency out of their business processes, and have a deep understanding of what their customers want, as well as what to charge for it. Such organizations are successful in large part because they know how to get the most out of their business intelligence (BI) investments.

BI and its Benefits

BI refers to techniques used to identify, extract and analyze business data to give organizations an in-depth view of their business operations. These techniques can include online analytical processing, statistical analytics, data mining, process mining, complex event processing, business performance management, benchmarking, textual data mining, and predictive analytics.

While BI has been a hot topic for several years, investments in BI programs are on the rise as BI tools and methodologies are more mature and can handle complex business demands. Currently, the North American BI services market is worth $15.5 billion, and is expected to grow by about 8 percent through 2013. Growth in BI is justified as BI investments offer significant advantages to businesses that do it well. A quality BI program promises to help companies:

  • Make better business decisions, faster
  • Identify opportunities to generate more revenue
  • Identify opportunities to cut costs
  • Offer greater transparency to mitigate risks and achieve compliance

As companies struggle to gain a holistic view of their organizations, a comprehensive BI strategy is more important than ever. The uncertain economy has led to an increase in merger and acquisition activity and corporate restructuring. This leaves companies to sort out information systems and disparate data they must consolidate, analyze and understand in order to gain a consistent view of the organization and move forward. Meanwhile, corporate budget cuts force departments to finds ways to contain costs. They look to BI to gain a true understanding of expenses, highlight waste and inefficiencies, and determine if they can make competitive moves like adjusting prices. Companies are also leveraging corporate information to discover potential business risks and gain a view on their level of compliance with government and industry regulations. But BI is not just about defensive tactics. Organizations need information to determine where to make investments. Superior data management and analysis can offer companies opportunities for increased revenue through higher levels of cross-selling, superior client insights, and identification of new, high profit-potential markets. Ultimately, great BI can even provide predictive business insights.

Falling Short of Greatness

To give employees the timely and accurate information they need to gain a competitive edge, BI must be approached cohesively, and with business goals in mind. Take UPS, for example. Market research analyst business/IT alignment, BI strategies allow IT to effectively and swiftly respond to new requests, and business users can leverage self-service tools to discover the answers they are looking for. The result is better, faster decision making that fuels the business and gives companies a much-needed competitive edge.