Almost no company relies only on intuition when making business decisions; many prefer to trust numbers. Firms aggregate data, check whether KPIs have anything to do with performance, and look for improvement opportunities. But they often don’t have the big picture.
The truth is that hardly ever one can unleash the full potential of data if it’s in silos. Companies that don’t democratise data also miss chances for innovative bottom-up ideas, optimisation suggestions, or faster reactions to changes.
Let’s dive into Business Intelligence and the potential benefits it can bring to a company.
Table of contents
What is Business Intelligence? Definition of BI
Business Intelligence (abbreviated to BI) is the process of transforming data into information that can be used to optimise procedures or to make the company more competitive.
BI relies on vast amounts of information, which, when in silos, has no value. However, when put together, using appropriate analytic and presentation tools, data can provide insights that support business decisions.
The aim of Business Intelligence systems is also to democratise data – to present it in a form that can be understood by employees who do not deal with analysis on a daily basis (e.g., with dashboards or interactive charts). Employees should be able to access data when needed without involving data analysts.
Why use a BI system in a company?
The purpose of Business Intelligence applications is to make decisions based on verified data that must be constantly collected and analysed; thanks to that, companies can reply to real-time events. Many BI solutions use Artificial Intelligence capabilities to link seemingly non-related facts, detect previously unknown regularities, make predictions and simulate “what if” scenarios.
A Business Intelligence platform can be used by employees who don’t speak SQL. It enables users to study data in a simple, understandable way, using reports and transforming complex information into structured knowledge in the form of charts, maps or indicators installed in dashboards. Analyses become more reachable, facilitating access to information and monitoring any area of the company. With Business Intelligence, employees get access to more data, and the interpretation of it is quick and easy. Therefore, it allows them to gain an accurate overview of the company’s micro and macro situation.
There are many benefits of using Business Intelligence. The solution, used correctly, can translate into:
- speeding up internal company processes,
- enabling managers to make quicker and more accurate decisions,
- better financial management and cost optimisation,
- ability to react to changes happening in real-time,
- tracking causes of problems,
- combining information from various sources to get a complete picture,
- others – BI solutions are often implemented in response to a company’s specific needs.
The ways you can utilise Business Intelligence solutions
Payment specialists can use Business Intelligence tools to conduct cost analysis, strategic planning or budget estimation. Having the big picture, they can also point to sources of loss and develop suitable solutions more quickly.
BI platforms will also support manufacturing companies. They make it possible, for example, to catch the causes of delays on a production line.
Retail companies will benefit from the software as well. Following data, they can improve every aspect of a supply chain – from logistics and product delivery to after-sales service.
The use of analytics capabilities on an e-commerce site has been evident for years. But nowadays, BI platforms enable digital marketers to look for correlations between data from different sources – i.a., Google Analytics, online ads platforms, or social media company pages. This helps to define buyer persona precisely or trace the user’s path through the whole marketing ecosystem, in and outside the e-commerce site.
An unquestionable advantage of Business Intelligence tools is the ability to simulate “what if” scenarios. This means that BI systems allow us to analyse historical data but also glimpse the future with the help of artificial intelligence.
Thanks to the built-in data visualisation capabilities, the complex analysed information can be presented in an accessible way so everyone can understand the results.
Looker – a cloud Business Intelligence platform
Typically, BI applications use data stored in a data warehouse. A data warehouse is a system for aggregating, unifying and analysing vast amounts of data. Google Cloud has one of the best-in-class data warehouse solutions – BigQuery. This serverless service is able to scale from zero to an almost unlimited number of queries in seconds and analyse petabytes at a glimpse. And the other excellent proposition for data analysis is Looker.
Acquired by Google in 2019, Looker is comprehensive business analytics and data visualisation platform. It is designed for small, medium and large enterprises. One of Looker’s differentiators is its support for conducting predictive analytics.
In a nutshell, based on historical data, Looker allows the prediction of trends that may occur in the future. The BI app supports relational databases using the SQL query language and non-relational (NoSQL).
Looker’s secret sauce is LookML (Looker Model Language) – a proprietary modelling language based on SQL. The LookML bridges the gap between a data warehouse and a data visualisation platform and automates querying.
The tool can be used in a web browser because Looker takes advantage of cloud technology. It doesn’t require installing or updating any desktop software and keeping it apart from the server. Because Looker is a web-based platform, every user always has access to the most up-to-date information. Moreover, Looker has functionalities useful for developers and data analysts, like version control, the ability to do code reviews, roll back changes or work in a developer mode.
Effective use of a Business Intelligence system
Business intelligence is a solution that can bring many benefits if implemented correctly. It’s a multi-stage process involving analysing the company’s needs, preparing the data warehouse and aggregation mechanism, training employees, and developing appropriate procedures.
If you’d like to introduce a Business Intelligence platform to your company – especially in combination with cloud capabilities – use our data engineers’ and cloud architects’ expertise.
Would you like to know more about the BI solution, the cloud and the cooperation with a certified Google Cloud partner? Drop us a line.