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October 17, 2012

BI: Performance Enhancer, Business Enabler

By Stefanie Hoffman

These days, it’s hard to read about new technology trends without coming across business intelligence (BI) or analytics – and for a lot of reasons, ranging from improved security to customer behavior analysis. But perhaps the biggest reason is improved business performance.

Even as far back as 2009, analyst firm Gartner hailed BI as one of its “Top Ten Strategic Technologies”:

“BI can have a direct positive impact on a company’s business performance, dramatically improving its ability to accomplish its mission by making smarter decisions at every level of the business from corporate strategy to operational processes.”

Essentially, Gartner continues, BI equips decision makers with tools that allow them to use the information to “make faster, better and more informed decisions,” especially in challenging economic times.

Here’s how BI solutions work: BI references various reporting and analytical tools that pull data from disparate sources and piece together the most relevant information for organizations to make reliable, timely and better-informed decisions about their business processes and efficacy. BI doesn’t just serve as a data aggregator, but provides deep contextualization relevance to the business query or problem, transforming the data into meaningful and actionable information.

So what kind of performance benefits can BI provide?

In his blog, Timo Elliott underscores that BI accelerates business performance because it’s relatively low cost and low risk and delivers a provide ROI.

Taking that a step further, BI accelerates the time it takes to find information, allowing users to focus on tasks that add value to the organization. By using real-time data, customers or employees can find the data they need quickly, thus reducing support and other IT costs. With more eyes on the data, errors can be spotted and corrected faster and more easily. And with expedited processes, customer satisfaction improves, reducing attrition and nearly guaranteeing repeat business.

BI can also provide the tools necessary to conduct comprehensive cost analysis in other business departments, extracting and cross-referencing financial metrics from multiple sources and perspectives. Armed with better financial information, organization administrators can take strategic steps to reduce costs in ways that don’t create disruptions or challenges in other critical areas.

BI improves performance in other ways, too. It provides timely answers to complex business questions – not just those contained in standard reports – on demand. To that end, it helps users design reports that reduce backlogs and delays, and it provides access to information from a single portal, regardless of where the data actually resides. The most successful BI applications give users an intuitive, user-friendly graphical interface.

BI can be applied to projects to identify missed opportunities or wasted data and efforts. Organizations can then take action to redirect efforts and resources toward more profitable endeavors.

And finally, it can also drill down to root causes of problems quickly and easily. If one department is losing sales or underperforming, for example, BI can determine why, while subsequently help answer any follow-up questions that emerge once those reasons are unearthed.

For more information on the benefits of BI, check out the IBM Cognos TechTalk Intelligence Center. It’s as dynamic as the data, applications and processes it serves to advocate. We encourage you to check it out today by clicking here.

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