The business intelligence market grew 5.2 percent to encompass more than $16 billion last year, according to research from Gartner. This figure probably comes as little surprise to those monitoring the enterprise information technology arena, as organizations of all sizes continue to incorporate robust backend systems into everyday business processes. Analysts at Gartner expect this activity to pick up over the course of the year as part of a mainstream embrace of BI solutions. Why are so many companies investing capital in these platforms? Their data-mining and asset-tracking features open up new revenue-building opportunities via a number of key operational benefits.
Real-time shop floor transparency
Mangers and executives are responsible for identifying and acting on key internal shifts that might impact the business. Traditionally, this requires an immense amount of work, as these individuals must collect evidence from disparate sources and synthesize this information to make decisions. Even then, the data can be inexact, forcing leaders to base their determinations on instinct. This may have worked in the past but the modern market dictates that enterprises work off of cold hard evidence.
Business intelligence solutions automatically gather such insights, giving stakeholders the real-time facts they need to do what is right for the bottom line, according to Paragon Solutions. These platforms integrate with everything from business accounting systems to manufacturing assets, thereby facilitating the flow of accurate, actionable data.
"BI solutions automatically gather such insights, giving stakeholders the real-time facts they need to do what is right for the bottom line."
Centralized, accessible information
Simply collecting and storing enterprise data is not enough. This information must be easy to access if it is to make an impact on the operation and drive revenue. BI solutions offer this kind of centralized environment, usually through single-sign-on portals, Enterprise Apps Today reported. This unsiloed approach allows for timely decision-making and supports integrated business operations, as employees from every department can view the same data source. Of course, most platforms come with role-based credential configuration features, giving systems administrators the power to control who has access to sensitive internal data.
Enhanced customer connections
Organizations must woo customers to survive – it's the way business works. In the past, many have operated on suppositions when making these connections, using overarching market analysis to target the common denominator. While partially successful, this approach leaves room for improvement, as potential customers who do not fall into generalized groupings slip through the cracks and profits with them.
BI-infused applications allow enterprises to track customer activity and drill down into the behaviors that define these individuals and drive their purchasing habits, according to The Houston Chronicle. This information can prove vital when formulating promotions or meeting prospective buyers face-to-face. It can also improve interactions with invested customers, enabling employees to go into each conversation with useful insights. Some platforms equipped with BI capabilities even include self-service portals that give customers the opportunity manage their own accounts without company assistance. Integrated data-mining tools compile complete customer histories and present this data to external users for consumption. This feature is in high demand among consumers, as most want to avoid drawn-out phone conversations and leverage self-generated insights to find answers.
Even the most profitable organizations can find room for improvement. However, traditional operational methods make spotlighting new opportunities more difficult, as stakeholders must search multiple data silos and weed through unstructured information and offhand insights that might point to internal issues. BI platforms facilitate this sort of transparency. Market and production trends are easy to spot, allowing executives and managers to adjust their operations to meet these shifts and ultimately reach new heights.
Business intelligence and commerce are now entwined. Organizations without platforms that provide these insights are bound to lose out to competitors, operating with little transparency while others tap into robust data stockpiles.
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