In a world where everything is done more efficiently with the help of technology, business intelligence software has now become a vital tool in strategic business planning and the improvement of businesses everywhere. So, what is business intelligence software, and how can we take advantage of it to get a hold of valuable business data?
Business Intelligence (BI) software is software specifically created to track, analyse, and manage various aspects of a business or corporation. This computer-based tool can help individuals run or manage a business more smoothly and efficiently by getting better access to valuable information such as business data, analytics, statistics, and the like. Business intelligence software allows an organization or company to see its strengths and weaknesses, and find better ways or strategies to improve on both. For company leaders, being able to see various types of data at a glance will make it easier to create informed business decisions that will greatly affect a company’s performance in the long run.
As you go deeper in business planning and management, it is important to know and understand what BI software is, and what it can do for your company or organization. There are many types of BI software and tools available out there. It is important to know what they are and their numerous benefits so that you can further strategize on how you can apply or implement them in your own business. It would be helpful to read up on reviews of business intelligence software to give you a better idea of how you can best take advantage of these products in planning and managing your business.
Types of Business Intelligence Software and Tools
To find the best business intelligence software for your business, it is important to determine the categories and types available. This will help you choose the most suitable BI tool or software to use depending on the needs of your business. Below are two major categories of BI software available, and the types of products under each.
Guided Analysis and Reporting
This is the most traditional type of BI available to man. Most business people have been using this BI style for many years especially in analysing specific types of data. This could be used in analysing sales reports, comparing the effectiveness of different marketing campaigns, or even analysing business metrics such as key performance indicators or KPI.
There was a time when data used here was confined to pre-set and fixed reports. Now, with the help of the best business intelligence software, it is now easier to analyse, compare, and do so much more in terms of examining various business data. Below are the different BI tools under this category.
1) BI Search
Also known as search-based applications, these are tools that examine unstructured data on the web. It is able to classify numerous unstructured data into useful information such as metrics and summaries of customer concerns, reviews, and the like. BI search tools give companies a wider view of all types of data relevant to their company or anything in relation to their market or industry. Search-based BI is quite easy to use, and is much similar to how we do searches on Google. Here, results often come quickly in various forms of data visualization like charts and graphs.
2) Corporate Performance Management (CPM)
CPM describes the various processes involved in monitoring, examining, and managing the overall performance of a specific business or enterprise by measuring KPI. Originally used in finance, CPM software has features that include budgeting, forecasting, and planning. It also has dashboard and scorecard features that show vital corporate data. This is a useful tool in tracking KPI and individual project performances in relation to existing business strategies and key goals.
3) Dashboards and Scorecards
As mentioned above, BI dashboards and performance scorecards go hand-in-hand with CPM. Business intelligence dashboard software helps business organizations, especially those with leadership positions gain real-time information and insight on how the company is progressing overall. Software scorecards, on the other hand, allow companies to keep track of the specific KPI that would best highlight a company’s progress in terms of goals and key metrics, while highlighting the groups who have contributed most to that said progress.
4) Spreadsheet Integration
Upon gathering data using various BI software, having it integrated with a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel, makes data analysis and processing more efficient. As a huge amount of unstructured data gets taken all over the web, data management become easier, and a spreadsheet add-in function makes data visualization more accurate.
Self-service Business Intelligence and Analysis
Those who utilize self-service BI tools are considered both consumers and producers of information. With these tools, they can publish or share any BI application they have created with the use of any self-service BI software. We often see these kinds of BI tools being used by professional analysts especially those in finance and human resource departments. Self-service BI tools allow users to do ad hoc analysis of information. Compared to tools that provide guided analysis and reporting that use a pre-set method of data collection and metrics, self-service BI allows user to customize their usage by adding data and defining new metrics without the assistance of IT groups or companies.
1) Ad hoc Reporting and Analysis
The Ad hoc analysis tool is a type of business intelligence reporting software that allows a user to gain answers to specific business questions through various analytics reports, statistical models, and similar data. The word “ad hoc” is a Latin term which means “as the occasion requires”.
Here, users can set-up and utilize a business intelligence solution by connecting it to various data sources, putting up security parameters, and determining how other end-users can access the BI solution. Other business end-users can create their own ad hoc reports with these user-made BI solutions. Most ad hoc reports range from simple one-page data reports to interactive and complex reports that make use of data visualization and drill-downs.
2) Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)
This type of BI software can be found in many different BI applications. OLAP makes it easier to discover, manage, and analyse data that can be found in a database. It can handle endless report viewing, complex analysis and calculations, as well as predictive functions such as budget planning and forecasting. OLAP tools also allow users to examine the different aspects of multidimensional data, as it is often used in data mining.
An OLAP tool is usually powered by an OLAP server that connects a client to a database management system or DBMS. This server can easily track how specific data is controlled or arranged within a database. It also has special features that allow better analysis of said data.
3) Data Discovery
This BI tool makes use of a user-directed process that entails the search for specific patterns or objects in a data set. It mostly utilizes visuals such as maps, tables, heat-maps, and the like to make the process of searching for patterns and objects more intuitive and faster. This may go hand-in-hand with data mining techniques to be able to accomplish tasks more effectively.
4) Data Visualization
Data visualization is one of the BI tools that make the gathering and analysis of data much easier. This entails BI applications that present data using visual tools such as pictures, graphs, tables, and the like. It allows its users to view analytics in a visual manner so it becomes easier to grasp and understand complex concepts and new patterns. Today, data visualization has become more valuable as it becomes more interactive, allowing users to access data with more detail or even manipulate data to see various outcomes. Using data visualization allows business owners to see processed data or results at a glance, allowing them to make faster decisions regarding their company or organization.
Importance of Using Business Intelligence Software for Business
Business intelligence software is extremely valuable especially in keeping track of accomplishments, and maintaining overall progress of a business. By using these tools, company leaders and business end-users can gain access to different types of data, and easily interpret them in a way that is relevant to the growth of their company. They can analyse both their weaknesses and strengths, and use it to further come up with business strategies and ways to implement them.
When searching for business intelligence software vendors and high-quality products, it is important to check out reviews of business intelligence software to get an idea of what would work best with the current concerns of your business. Not all types of business intelligence software will suit a company. It will greatly depend on the nature of the organization and the areas that need to be addressed. It will also be best to do a business intelligence software comparison to know the pros and cons of the software or tool that you will be implementing.
To know more about the available BI tools and software available in the market, you can check out CrowdReviews.com’s list of the best business intelligence software to know which one will be most suitable for your business needs.
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