Business Intelligence Keeping It Simple

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Your business may be sitting on a wealth of critical information that is buried in databases holding your day-to-day transactions. By presenting this information in clear summarised views you will almost certainly unlock sales opportunities, identify trends, spot unusual customer buying patterns, poor supplier performance and potentially single out areas for cost reduction across your business.

Business Intelligence (BI) software has been in existence for many years but has always suffered from being expensive, difficult to implement and almost always needing external consultants to undertake the simplest of changes on your behalf.

There have been some real developments in this area in recent times with smaller, more agile BI packages available which place much of the control in the hands of the user who can create their own summarised views of the data in dashboards, graphs, tables and lists. Often these tools will enable you to drill down into your transactions for further analysis and investigation.

From a sales perspective this can enable you to dynamically analyse your performance by any criteria which can be changed at any time rather than being locked in. So, for example, you can see which sales people are performing, where they are particularly successful in selling certain product ranges or perhaps more importantly unsuccessful. Missed opportunities to sell related or alternate products should be identifiable. Also customers moving business away and indeed any seasonal trends or promotional impacts.

From a procurement perspective you can assess supplier performance in terms of cost, timeliness and quality.

Stock can be viewed as a current position in terms of quantity, value and location compared to a historic view or to minimum/maximum levels. This can also be shown alongside historic and forecasted demand to see where they will be under/over stocking.

To help you envisage what these BI systems can actually do and look like, here are some examples:

To enable your managers and directors to analyse the business intelligence in order to identify trends, opportunities & KPI’s then a market leading product for Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SME’s) is Qlik – take a look at

Alternatively, this business intelligence package enables the user themselves to make their own views and queries very easily, keeping it simple to use

For those of you who are Microsoft Excel wizards then an alternative package for analysing business transactions would be Microsoft’s new Power BI package

These are examples but overall the final key attribute of the BI system should be that it can follow your train of thought to answer critical business questions as rapidly and easily as possible without you having to reference other people or systems. It not only answers your questions; it iteratively uncovers new questions and opportunities you had never even thought of!

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