Whether you call it analytics, data mining, business intelligence, or if you are really up to date and refer to it as “Big Data”, you’re still talking about the same thing. BI is the process of converting your company’s data into meaningful, useful information that will help you make decisions on how to improve your company’s performance, discover new opportunities and operate efficiently.
You may think it sounds an easy task: simply take your financial, operational and HR information, feed it into the data mincing machine and viola, out pops a report accompanied by some heavenly music. Not so fast. The problem that exists in the real world is your data may be generated from many different sources and these sources often don’t like talking to one another. Baring that in mind, take the scenario of a small business owner who records all his data on spread sheets while the CEO of a multinational company has packages like SAP, Oracle, Sharepoint, etc to use. However, at the end of the day, both need to view the same types of reports in order to evaluate the success of their business.
So just what are these “reveal all” reports you ask? Well, that all depends on what performance measurements you want to and need to monitor, manage and act on.
For example: A Finance Manager may want to only monitor cash flow, debtors, creditors, ROI, and projected sales. The Sales Manager may also monitor projected sales, but in addition monitor sales history, and product. All this information needs to be filtered by product, region, by office, by team, and/or by employee. These reports can and must be available for view by all the relevant employees of the business if you want to see optimal efficiency and growth for your business.
But probably what is most important is that these reports need to be a snapshot of the current environment. It does not help a production manager who requires additional staff resources in the middle of the month to ensure they meet their target and to receive the report at the end of the month. The same can be said for a finance manager authorizing payments that exceed their bank account credit limit at that given time.
So what have we determined?
- We all need clear, accurate and up to date reports to help us to make decisions to improve our business;
- The data needed to compile these reports comes from many sources; and
- Managers from the different areas need to monitor different performance measurements.
Next week we discuss why less than 20% of business users actually us BI proactively.