Data and what businesses do with it has become a popular science. Many take some steps to track and analyze important data, and from that make decisions or changes to their current strategies. The use of data to make better decisions is commonly referred to as Business Intelligence (BI). But, did you know that there are more types of BI you could be using?
Business Intelligence is generally divided into four different categories which are comprised of different types of BI that businesses working with data should be aware of.
Reporting focuses on developing documents with valuable information, telling the reader what happened. They usually cover a time span that is determined by the writer of the report and can provide information on the whole company's activities, or be as simple as a weekly report which looks at your Facebook campaign.
Many BI professionals will call the reports generated from BI efforts Standard Reports - a record of past activities and data.
Analysis looks at why something happened. This is an important part of BI, because data by itself is useless. It only become useful when it has been analyzed and turned into something that we can interpret and understand. There are three common types of analysis:
- Spreadsheet Analysis - Analyzing data contained in spreadsheets with the goal of evaluating or anticipating company wide, or specific unit performance. E.g., using Excel to track hours your employees work.
- Ad-Hoc Query - Software that allows users to develop their own specific data queries. E.g., creating a query that displays how many of one item has been sold in a specific time period.
- Visualization Tools - Software that takes raw data and creates a visualization that users can read and understand. E.g., a pie chart that compares the method by which customers contacted you in a one-month period.
One of the more useful functions of BI is that you can often monitor data and information in real-time, or close to it anyway. This can be interesting for getting snapshots between reporting periods or when making decisions. The three main types of monitoring are:
- Dashboard - A central location where all useful and actionable metrics and data are contained. They are usually represented graphically to make it easier for users to read. E.g., the new Google+ dashboards which can be accessed by logging into your business Google+ page and selecting Dashboard from the drop-down menu on the left.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) - KPIs measure the performance of a specific action or project. E.g., Return on Investment (ROI).
- Business Performance Management - A system that is designed to ensure that performance goals for your organization or projects are being met and results are being delivered. E.g., number of new customers acquired. Some businesses and BI providers will call this the Balanced Scorecard.
The reason many businesses employ BI methodologies is to try and predict what will happen based on the data currently available and other trends. Prediction can be an incredibly complex form of BI, so many companies often contract this out to firms, or rely on software that automates much of the process. There are two main types of prediction:
- Data Mining - Is the act of finding patterns and relations in and between large sets of data. The main goal of data mining is to extract or transform data into something we can understand and further use.
- Predictive Modelling - Any modeling that sets out to predict the outcome of an action, or the probability of an outcome.
While Business Intelligence is important and popular among many companies, it can be complex. If you would like to learn more about BI and how we can help you get the most out of your data, contact us today.