Two coworkers in a meeting looking at charts on a laptop.
Business intelligence tools collect data from daily operations and help businesses optimize their practices, save money, and adapt to changes in the market or supply chain. — Getty Images/courtneyk

The growth of a business depends on the ability to analyze efficiency, identify issues, and make smart decisions moving forward. Business intelligence can help companies manage their data, understand market trends, improve products or services, and identify areas that need attention. Here’s how business intelligence can benefit your business and what types of tools to use.

What is business intelligence?

Business intelligence (BI) encompasses the strategies and technology that collects, stores, and analyzes company data. BI collects the data from daily operations and helps businesses optimize their practices, save money, and adapt to changes in the market or supply chain. With the use of business analytics, data mining and visualization, and other BI tools, businesses will be prepared to make more effective decisions based on data collection.

BI allows businesses to view both present and past data that can help locate any weak points in the workflow, areas where finances could be cut, patterns in customer behavior, and trends in the market. It’s also ideal for discovering any potential issues that might arise.

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Types of business intelligence tools

Business and corporate performance management

Management can use business performance management (BPM) to assess the function and execution of their business, as well as how individual employees are performing. BPM enables managers to review data and make necessary changes in order to reach company goals. Similarly, corporate performance management software allows management to view information about the enterprise and evaluate its goal trajectory.

Reporting and querying software

These types of software, which can be both open source or proprietary, are used to retrieve data with defined terms and then organize and report it. The use of querying software refines the data that is reported so it does not include unnecessary or irrelevant information. It also allows businesses to combine certain data, manipulate it, or locate requested data. Reporting software works to display collected data in the form of graphs, charts, or spreadsheets so businesses can review and assess progress and performance.

For those working on the go, mobile business intelligence allows data access from mobile devices at any time.

Online analytical processing

Online analytical processing (OLAP) selects and extracts data that allows users to analyze it from different perspectives. Similar to data mining tools, OLAP can reveal trends as well as forecast sales or help with budget planning. The OLAP system collects and categorizes data from various sources. Then, the software is able to locate correlations or places where data intersect. You can use analytical processing systems for data mining, and it comes in different types such as multidimensional, relational, and hybrid.

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A drill-down feature allows users to shift from examining a broad overview of data to a more detailed and fine-print view within the same data set. Drill-down is available within online analytical processing software. The digital user-friendly dashboard contains a set of metrics that allow users to switch back and forth. For example, business owners may view customer data by state or city within the overall report by selecting the set of parameters.

Data mining tools

Data mining software is used to identify patterns or trends within a larger set of data using AI, statistics, or a database system. It can be overwhelming to sift through tons of data, let alone understand what all of it means.

There are two general types of data mining: predictive and descriptive. Predictive data mining helps users identify potential future patterns or trends, as well as issues that might arise. Descriptive data mining summarizes data or provides relevant data that reveals correlations or trends.

Predictive analytics

The benefit of using predictive analytics software is being able to engage in data mining, predictive modeling, and analyzing present and past data to make future predictions about the business, customers, or market. Predictive analytics also allows users to set goals related to revenue, sales, marketing, and budget.

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Mobile business intelligence

For those working on the go, mobile business intelligence allows data access from mobile devices at any time. These include smartphones, tablets, or other smart devices. Mobile users can read and analyze company data in real time, making it more efficient for businesses to make data-driven decisions and increase support.

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