Business intelligence: what it is and how to use it in decision making

Created in:
May 28, 2020

Assertive decision-making requires an analytical mindset and an efficient business intelligence (BI) process .

To do this, companies need to leave intuition aside and use the power of data to their advantage.

In this post, you will learn what it is and how to use business intelligence to be more assertive in your business strategy .

Traditional decision making vs. analytical decision making

Before explaining what business intelligence (BI) is and how to use it to your advantage in your business, we want you to understand what analytical decision making is .

In a figurative scenario, let's assume that you have a successful company and, since you opened your doors, you have been recording your data dedicatedly and trying to update them whenever possible.

However, even with all this effort, it is not possible to access them quickly , as your information is spread across the company and you hardly know where to look.

Many people identify with this description.

Despite technological advances , there are many companies that still conduct business in a traditional and outdated way , without knowing that their decision-making can be much easier and more assertive with a business intelligence (BI) solution .

In fact, you may have heard this phrase: " I always make decisions based on my experience. I've been with this company for years, my intuition never fails! "

But the point is that, even though experience is a great differentiator , it is inconceivable to work solely under the influence of intuition in the digital age .

Man in front of his notebook thinking with his hand on his chin.
Man sitting behind a desk with laptop.

With the large volume of data generated daily, all organizations can now develop a powerful analytical decision-making process : use data to understand customers , outline assertive strategies and accelerate business results .

In fact, it is no surprise that companies with advanced analytical capabilities have happier customers and are more productive, efficient and profitable. Therefore, developing an analytical mindset is crucial to succeed in your data driven transformation .

And do you know what this context has to do with business intelligence ?

All! We explain below.

What is business intelligence?

Business intelligence or business intelligence is also known worldwide as BI . In Brazil, this term is pronounced like this: “ bi ai ”.

BI is a collection of processes, systems and tools that work together to transform data sources into intuitive visualizations , such as smart dashboards, dashboards and monitors.

In this link here , you can see some examples of dashboards that we have separated so that you can understand what an intuitive visualization is .

Analysis graphs overlaying a pair of hands working on a notebook.
Data dashboard visualization.

Speaking in simpler terms, business intelligence finds, organizes and transforms all your company's information, past and present, to achieve this visual result with intuitive illustrations and, with them, facilitate analytical decision making .

With this, the user (stakeholders, analysts or decision makers, for example) can manipulate and access the data to conduct business analysis, without needing the technical skills of systems development or data scientists .

Therefore, we can say that BI intelligence works to connect data with the tools that present it in a visual context , making it digestible, scannable and analyzable.

This way, professionals who need to make decisions can use them to:

  • monitor performance.
  • identify patterns and trends.
  • and even find business failures in real time.

How does business intelligence work?

Before understanding the processes behind business intelligence , you need to know that without context, data has no value or meaning.

With this in mind, for an organization to explore the potential of its data , it needs to place it in a visual context that facilitates its interpretation. Therefore, before implementing BI , it is necessary to organize the past.

What does that mean?

Transform large volumes of historical data into tangible information.

This can be done through a complex process of extract, transform, load (ETL) data   extraction, transformation and storage .

However, here at Indicium , we reverse the order of this process using ELT - extract, load, transform . See the figure below:

ELT process drawing represented by 3 icons followed by arrows pointing to the right.
ELT process

With the organization of the past resolved, BI finally comes into action by placing a layer of intelligence on the organized data, which now translates into interactive visual representations for real-time analysis and decision making .

At Indicium , we say that BI implementation is neither the be-all and end-all of a data project, but the present. It is a fundamental step that paves the way for organizations to explore the next step of analytical advantage, the future .

Business intelligence x data analytics

Why use business intelligence?

To get data visualization in a simple and accessible context for future analysis. And to identify business questions, search for relevant data to answer them convincingly and, based on that, make assertive decisions .

Various types of graphics overlaying man using a tablet.
Data analysis.

Alone, a BI only performs descriptive analyses, illustrating the information retained in the repositories through visualizations, such as graphs, tables, maps, etc.

Data analysis , or data analytics , in turn, goes further. It conducts investigative analyses, that is, it uses applied data intelligence to prepare predictions about the future of companies.

Therefore, BI and data analytics are different and complementary concepts.

While BI provides the graphical representation necessary for business analysis , data analytics delves deeper into modeling and analysis techniques to obtain insights into and for the future of organizations.

Is BI the right solution for your company?

To find out if BI implementation is necessary in your company, you need to answer three questions.

  1. Do you have difficulty accessing information about your company?
  2. Do reports take a long time to reach your desk?
  3. Would you like to have more information to make business decisions?

If your answer is yes to any of the three questions, a BI can be very interesting to boost your business .

Are you interested in implementing BI in your company?

Get in touch with our team of experts and find out how to start this Data Driven Journey .

Business intelligence
Data products
Data analytics

Isabela Blasi

CBDO and co-founder at Indicium

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