How to Get Started with Business Intelligence

September 8, 2022
How to Get Started with Business Intelligence

Business intelligence is such an important discipline to integrate into modern business, as it provides reliable, fact-based information that can be used to improve efficiency and lower costs. BI utilises analytics, and converts that into business insights, and instructs the artificial intelligence of automation, at times with the help of machine learning; that is the key difference between data analysis and business intelligence.

In order to make intelligent, data-led business decisions, it is vital to establish a business intelligence system that you can rely on. Since technology advances all the time, it is important to appreciate that implementing BI is not necessarily a one-step process; regular maintenance is the key to maintaining a healthy, robust and seamless system, capable of delivering the reliable insights that will improve your business. But, first things first – let’s start small.

4 steps to get started in business intelligence

1. Start with what you have

If you have a current analytics system, start by using the data you have already gathered and the processes you have been using. To begin automating, it is best to start with something very clear, well-defined and low-risk. For example, analytic reports can be automatically generated and emailed to the decision-makers every month, week or morning, to enable them to make informed, data-led decisions on a consistent basis. A ChatBot can be installed onto your website to ensure your customers have a point of contact at all hours. The more attributes such as these that are added, the more reliable data you will have available to inform your business.

For those of you who have an intermediate understanding of Business Intelligence but have yet to use a BI platform, one of the technologies we tend to recommend is Power BI by Microsoft.

Click here to find out how to become a Power BI expert.

2. Update and use feedback to improve processes

In addition to incorporating service updates, the accuracy of your data must be actively maintained as your own business changes. For example, if you have analytics running on your website but you launch yourself on a new social media platform, that new platform must be fully integrated with your BI to ensure accurate data readings. Ideally, that platform should be integrated before it goes live to ensure you capture the full data set.

Data Feedback

Implementing feedback is an area that can benefit for a dedicated specialist to modify or upgrade areas that are causing issues. We will look into this further in point, suffice to say that the strongest automated system you can build relies on a professional to respond to and incorporate the feedback into the system.

3. Employ new technologies (or hire experts)

As technology improves, there inevitably comes a time when the current processes become outdated or are no longer sufficient. Perhaps the business has changed or expanded, a new area can be made more efficient through automation, or you need a platform that can handle larger data sets. There are new systems and advances every year, so the top business intelligence platforms continually change. Even if you stick to one BI platform and never migrate to another, upgrades should be anticipated and budgeted for as part of your BI system maintenance.

New technologies may require an additional investment of time, but this can be lessened by hiring those who are already literate with the technology and its newest developments. Such specialists can not only integrate the new upgrades much faster, but they can also help to train your other staff on any changes to the system that will affect their day-to-day tasks.

4. Learn through your results

When new to BI, it is best to start with smaller projects and learn through doing. Your data can be visualised through graphs and reports, and this is often the easiest way to understand how and why it works. While it is satisfying to see a graph going upwards, it is the errors, failures and downward trends you should be actively learning from; this is the feedback from the machine that can and must be applied to improve your business. A certain amount of fluctuation and anomalies are to be expected so results should ideally be assessed over time.

One of the most beneficial areas to analyse is where you are losing customers. This is not data that is easily collected in physical stores, as asking why someone is leaving without buying would be impolite. However, with data analytics and BI, you can begin to understand this behaviour.

data results

For example, you can see what page most of your traffic is exiting out of your website without making a transaction. These results can then be investigated and improvements can be made to that page to increase your conversion, and those improvements will then be monitored.

This allows you to judge the effectiveness of any new pages, and empowers you to improve your website (and therefore customer) experience.

Ready to get into business intelligence?

To get started in business intelligence, always start small, but the most important thing is to take that first step. Learning will happen as you go on, and your BI practices will inevitably evolve over time as your business gets used to the platform, and finds new insights and avenues to explore with BI. The opportunities are almost limitless, but starting small is a great way of learning while avoiding getting overwhelmed.

Updating and upgrading your BI systems should be expected and budgeted for as websites, social media and BI platforms are updated regularly, and these updates can sometimes cause unexpected errors, disconnections or bugs. Hiring a BI specialist will ensure your systems are maintained when external or internal updates occur, and these specialists are a great source of information when learning.

Lastly, the business intelligence system is there to show you where your business can improve. If you have hired an expert to ensure the accuracy and validity of your data and BI systems, your results will be accurate, trustworthy and purely fact-based. Always read the feedback and reports objectively, and apply that learning to your business to ensure you are reaping the rewards.

So to get started today, post your project on Pangaea X where a huge range of specialists can be found to suit your project.

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