In business, using Business-Intelligence-Software is most beneficial. Many suppliers, many products, many stores and many customers – in other words many data sources and terabytes are in the so-called Data Warehouse. The ranges of applications for intelligent software is consequently multifaceted – from sales projection in the fight against empty shelves all the way to a targeted sales approach in direct marketing.
Business Intelligence, in short BI, is a dazzling term – a buzzword in the IT-business with many different meanings. Strictly speaking, it is about the collection, analysis and presentation of all data available to a business. In an economical sense, this is nothing new. Companies always draw conclusions for their business based on their business processes.
Yet with this much information you can easily lose track. What is important? Where are things getting out of control? How are the numbers developing? This is why IT supported BI-systems have established themselves in companies. These BI platforms consolidate all relevant data from all divisions –supplemented by further important data sources like for example market-and business cycle data. BI automatically compiles all data and structures it, if desired also formatted in a graphical way. Graphs, diagrams and colors reveal at a glance, whether everything is running smoothly.
Corporate Management without BI
If top management without the use of BI wants to get an idea on how business objectives during a specific time frame were achieved, an enormous operation kicks into gear. Each division with all its subdivisions has to deliver its quite possibly varying numbers and factors. Those are “manually“ collected from different IT systems – CRM, inventory control, financial accounting etc. Employees then pass along the data further up the command structure, and each time data gets newly compiled and made comparable. Just like in the game “musical chairs” mistakes are being made, which is a waste of time and human resources.
BI makes data transparent
In contrast, with a modern computer based BI solution, business data and numbers from the many different data pools and divisions are contracted and stored directly in a typically called “Data Warehouse“. All company divisions –from supply to sales all the way to corporate management have selective access and can call up data individually based on information needs in their favored presentation style.
Another step would also be to comb through the selected data for obviously noticeable links. This happens with the so-called “Data Mining“, a method, which is often used to improve the quality of customer relations. For all intents and purposes it works like this: the data-mining-system systematically analyzes all customer data for links and classifies different customer groups by aspects like income bracket or age group. The data is subsequently specifically interpreted and typical behavior patterns are uncovered. Future customer behavior can thus be predicted. Based on that, you can ideally develop more customer specific products; service quality is increased.
All kinds of programs are applied to perform these functions, which often is not called Business Intelligence, but instead is called store control or Customer relation management (CRM). Smaller providers with solid industry knowledge are also able to make their mark – even if they don’t offer the all-encompassing software for the many different areas of BI application. The big companies like SAP, IBM, SAS or Oracle need to prove that their standard products are sufficiently adaptable to the requirements of different companies. Demands are different for Metro or Wal-Mart and from Aldi or Kik all the way to owner-managed specialized stores.