The aim of Business Intelligence
Business intelligence solutions are designed to improve the operational efficiency of companies. But isn’t that the goal of every single IT-related innovation? In fact, isn’t that the goal of all business activities?
Business Intelligence or BI is not an easy topic to grasp because it focuses on information itself. With such developments, a company elevates the way it organizes information. If information flows faster, business flows faster, more informed decisions can be made in less time.
This is more or less the goal of the whole IT sector, of course. Let's just say that if a company is an organism, then BI is involved in optimizing nothing less than the nerve center.
The meaning of Business Intelligence
When a company embarks on a journey to review its operations according to BI, which is now a fashionable buzzword, and attempt to make progress in this area, it typically has the following results:
- Certain manual tasks become automated.
- Data that was formerly difficult to process due to different formats is easier to use.
- Different departments are able to see each other’s data in real-time and adjust their performance according to new pieces of information on the fly. (compatibility)
- Data security conditions are improving, access is becoming more straightforward.
- More data becomes visible and visually interpretable in real time with the help of graphs, diagrams and digital display dashboards. Presentations can be created at the touch of a button, without having to spend a lot of time on visualization and targeted analysis.
- Optimized use of machine and human labor, capacity planning
- Optimized inventory management
So “intelligence” in BI is not referring to “smartness” per se, but more to information. The role of BI in a business environment is similar to that of intelligence in a military.
As István Molnár, our AI development manager, puts it: “we can optimize any manufacturing process to a great extent if we can make it measurable”. This “measurability” is one of the keys to contemporary industrial and business IT. We wrote more about sensors and the proper preparation of business decisions here. This phenomenon is one of the major challenges and innovations of the Big Data-era.
Business Intelligence makes everything more transparent and enhances interconnectivity. As if the company itself would get a more powerful processor.
Unfortunately, it's difficult to provide a more accurate definition.Here’s a case study from Porsche, for example: in 2016, the company analyzed its own operations from a BI perspective, primarily looking to improve customer relationships and bringing the communication of different dealerships to the same platform. This must have been quite successful, as their new CRM system was then taken over by several other brands in the VW Group. There is a tangible pain point in their article: before adopting the new BI system, Porsche was forced to employ external experts from time to time to create reports on their operations. This is obviously expensive, but what’s even a bigger issue is that it wastes a lot of time.
Perhaps the simplest way to demonstrate the benefits of BI is through the experience of the managers working at Porsche’s sales department: they were able to acquire real-time data from resellers instead of using mail-attached Excel created days ago.
Today, Business Intelligence creates the well-known, utopian technological image of a CEO standing with his hands clasped behind his back in front of a forest of screens like an admiral on the Star Destroyer's command bridge, seeing perfectly filtered, real-time data in front of him, globally, regardless of location, without a moment of delay. It has been possible to build such systems for a few years now, but it is now becoming a general expectation to finally leave the age of static reports.
It’s a bit like when we can complete the digital transition by surpassing the conventional process of “print-sign-scan”. Now not only are our data sets digitized, but they can also communicate with each other in real time, which is a quality difference that justifies assigning a separate sub-area in corporate IT to this task in the form of BI.
Of course, this comprehensive, intangible and all-encompassing task requires a completely different approach than an “end-to-end” type of uniform software development process, where there's a specific goal for which we deliver an optimal tool. A Business Intelligence project is typically cyclical and collaborative. The company cannot be simultaneously shut down and broken down into pieces to then be reassembled, so the development team works closely with the company, learns how it works from the inside, and develops new platforms while its operations are still running.
All BI collaborations include these three phases as follows:
- The mapping and comprehension of data traffic
- Improving data storage
The basic goal is always to have all the company's data traffic (from the temperature log of office thermostats through the utilization rates of trucks to the number of daily unique visitors on the website and daily offline sales) available on a joint platform in an easily searchable way, and to make it sortable according to a wide variety of aspects, moreover, to make sure it’s depictable in the company's own internal system. All this in real time, of course.
So BI fundamentally uses state-of-the-art, cloud-based and Big Data methods in a company's operational management and internal communications. Do you want to know what opportunities are currently hidden in your company that could achieve improvements? BI can hold pleasant surprises in terms of increasing profitability for businesses of almost any size and profile. Ask us your questions here!