What's All The Talk About Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence, or "BI" as it's commonly called, is a popular buzzword in the software industry. But as technology has matured, today's BI is more than just a buzzword...it's an affordable necessity for small and medium-sized businesses. In this article, we'll talk about what BI means for your business.
The Right Information at the Right Time
BI is an umbrella term that describes a variety of tools involved in the process of gathering & organizing data into graphical views and meaningful reports that enable quick and informed decisions. Put simply, BI delivers the right information in the right format to the right person at the right time. Without the tools that BI offers, it can be difficult to harness the volumes of data in your accounting system in a timely fashion. The resulting information overload can delay important business decisions. The ultimate objective of BI is to improve the relevance, timeliness and quality of useful information.
No "Techie" Required
One of the most important aspects of BI tools is that they enable non-technical users (like managers and executives) to create charts, graphs, and meaningful reports that interpret large volumes of data without the need for assistance from your "IT" guy. Too often, key decision makers are forced to wait weeks or even months while the data they need is extracted and compiled by the IT department in a report that arrives well after the fact.
It's Not Just for "The Suits"
One of the nice things about BI is that it works great as both a strategic and operational tool. Strategically, managers and owners can analyze trends, gross profit margins, and other key performance indicators. Operationally, departmental personnel can streamline procedures. Consider the example of a collections department that goes through a series of tasks, reports, call logs, customer notes, and possibly information in external spreadsheets to determine which customers are overdue. Using BI, all of those tasks and data can be consolidated into a single "Collections Dashboard" that provides a graphical snapshot of overdue customers along with "click of a button" access to underlying detailed account data when needed.
BI and Accounting - Affordable and Integrated
Years ago, companies spent big bucks to purchase separate business intelligence software that ìsnapped onî to their accounting system. Today, products like Sage 100 (designed specifically for small and mid-sized companies) provide affordable and sophisticated Business Intelligence tools that are built right in to the core accounting and operational functions. Modules like Business Insights Explorer and Business Insights Dashboard provide you with high-performance analytics and reporting.
Combining the power of BI tools with human business intuition will empower you with the ability to analyze trends, make tactical decisions, take quick and decisive action, and get a leg up on the competition.