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Written by Sarah Ward
BI is the acronym for Business Intelligence and can be defined as “a set of techniques and tools for the acquisition and transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purpose”.1
That is an impressive sounding definition for what is actually a very simple idea: taking the data a business generates and using it to make well-reasoned decisions about the future. For most modern business owners this given, decisions aren’t often made with a crystal ball and a cauldron of lizard’s tails these days. The emphasis of BI is the speed and accuracy of the information flowing through to the key decision makers. The use of integrated accounting software to capture information and produce reports immediately is invaluable to business. With the tools currently available it is possible to report on customer buying trends as they emerge, without the need to wait until sales analysis reports are compiled at the end of the month.
Combining geo-location information with sales is an effective way to analyze where stock is being sold and to whom. With the right BI tools, this information can be reported on as soon as an order is placed. Sales modelling done in real time will allow any business to make dynamic decisions based on actual numbers. A week-on-week increase in sales of a particular stock item can be investigated as it happens, with the resultant stock purchase decision occurring in tandem to prevent lost sales due to a lack of stock.
Many businesses will not even be aware that they already possess BI tools. An integrated accounting system can produce many reports that will allow for faster, more accurate decision making. Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool and often can be connected directly to the database that stores your accounting system data. Once that connection is made, the graphing and mapping functions within Excel can be run directly from the source of your information. The direct connection between Excel and an accounting systems minimizes the risk of human error on data entry and ensures that the information used to make decisions is live.
Business Intelligence is intrinsic to successful business owners and managers, so much so that they may not even be aware that what they’re doing is ‘Business Intelligence’. Information is plentiful in this day and age – being able to extrapolate good decisions and strategies from is where the real skill and talent lie.
1. Turner, Dawn M. "What is Venture Management?".www.VentureSkies.com. VentureSkies. Retrieved 24 February 2016
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