We count on our intelligence to survive. Your IQ level or Emotional Intelligence (EQ) can help you with strategy and sharpen your life-skills. This goes some way in preventing the same fate as Dodo!
On a more serious level, intelligence means gaining the upper hand in mostly military warfare. It is like going into war to win against the enemy.
Employing tactics by institutions such as the CIA, KGB, MI5 and Interpol etc would help you anticipate the next action to take to mitigate costs (casualties).
Likewise, in the business environment, it is a crucial requirement to be strategic for the business’ survival.
It is no surprise, in today’s technological advancements, that there are tools available to draw up business plans, and predict events affecting its operations. This is conveniently referred to as Business Intelligence (BI).
The purpose of BI
The function of a business intelligence tool is to mainly assist with forecasting. After all, if you aren’t selling anything like a ‘for-profit’ business – you are out of business!
Using a good business intelligence tool can help accelerate and improve decision-making. It also helps with optimizing internal business processes, increasing productivity and efficiency.
This, in turn, helps generate more revenue with the same resources and can provide a significant competitive advantage over your competitors. BI tools can also help companies identify market trends and spot business problems that need serious attention.
Business intelligence is a technology-driven process for analysing data. It presents actionable information to help executives, managers and other corporate end users make informed business decisions.
There are a few BI tools out there, but the most usable and compatible ones are what you should be looking for. Compatibility is critical because to use these tools you need to analyse raw data!
Most people use MS Excel to store large (or small) transactions and datasets for sales, stock and other accounting-related reports. This data will need to be imported or accessed directly by the tool to generate real-time graphs, forecasts and reports.
A good BI tool should make accessing and processing such raw data a breeze.
As a business intelligence tool user, the one that makes the most sense to use is a Microsoft-based tool called Power BI. This is the one we recommend. It also comes free with a subscription to Office 365 Proplus package (latest Office apps), for as little as 12 USD per month.
That means you can dive in straight from MS Excel without having to add-on or pay for another subscription to a third-party software.
Naturally, the free version would only allow the basics. There are two other levels which are paid for products designed for professionals ($10 per month) and developers (per node).
Some other perks include the following:
- It is cloud-based which means you can use it on mobile apps – practical for those who are always on the move.
- Great visual dashboards to make complex data look comfortable on the eye and allows you to make quick and sensible decisions.
- Connect it easily to other database-driven applications such as Insightly, ClickDimensions, GoogleAnalytics, Dynamics 365 . Let’s not mention the advent and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- Sharing and publishing data easily. It is convenient to have an arsenal of data and professionally created graphs and reports. However, without the ability to inform others about the outcomes, it would be futile.
- Fortunately, the real-time sharing functionality allows for you and all your stakeholders to ‘get the 411’ on trends and forecasts.
Some BI terminology
For a Power BI consumer, the five “building blocks” are: visualizations, dashboards, reports, apps, and datasets.
The content exists in workspaces. You can have several workspaces for different facets of the business to keep it all organized – just like in a factory or real office setting.
A typical Power BI workflow involves all these building blocks and will give you the ability to visualise the inner workings of a business.
So this would be a tool typically used by those in the financial sector – but also by account managers in businesses.
Another practical use
From a personal trading and investment analysis perspective, a BI tool could be the difference between you reaping massive or tiny profits.
With it, you can follow past movements of a stock or Cryptocurrency or making losses because you did not anticipate a dip or market crash.
Most of the trading platforms have their own mathematically derived intelligence tools called indicators.
But that’s another whole new ball game altogether. A good BI tool, however, will serve you well in your immediate line of work and operations.
So, if you haven’t thought of a business intelligence tool yet, now is the time to do so.