Is Your Company A Business Intelligence Leader Or Laggard?

Lindsay Perlman

I’m always fascinated by reports that say we only use 10 percent of our brains – suggesting that we could achieve so much more if we understood how to tap into the other 90 percent of our mental resources.

Although scientists have proven the “10 decisions made with business intelligencepercent myth” wrong time and time again, they have found evidence that we don’t access the information stored in our brains to the best of our ability. Of course, those findings aren’t surprising to anyone who’s tried to recall information – from the math equations you studied all night long before a test to the name of your first-grade teacher.

What is surprising is the finding that many companies only use around 10% of their data for analysis and decision making, according to a recent study conducted by Forrester Consulting.

Turning data into actionable insights

For years, companies have been collecting data on everything from company performance to customer transactions to emerging trends. But data alone doesn’t do anything but take up space, unless a company invests in the technology and processes it needs to turn the data into meaningful, accessible information that can be used for making more informed decisions.

So what’s the holdup? Outdated and inefficient processes, technology infrastructure, and business intelligence (BI) tools are the usual suspects, reports Forrester Consulting. However, modern tools and techniques have largely enabled companies to address those challenges.

Limited agility and flexibility are another matter – with only 25% of survey respondents characterizing their BI environment as highly agile.

Leveraging innovative technologies for data-driven decision making

With innovative technologies, and new ways of using existing technologies, companies can gain the agility and flexibility they need to maximize the value from their BI environments.

By combining software innovations that can make BI tools more powerful and easier to use with hardware advances that can improve performance at a competitive price, five key innovations have emerged:

  • Self-service tools enable business users to write their own reports or queries, build their own dashboards, and ask the questions they want to ask – saving valuable time and money.
  • Interactive visualization puts visualization into the hands of subject-matter experts by allowing them to drill down into underlying data and switch seamlessly between visualizations.
  • Predictive analytics gives business users the information and functionality they need to predict what might – or is likely to – happen in a variety of scenarios.
  • Big Data analytics allows business users to support a wide variety of data handling and analysis requirements, outside of the traditional BI environments.
  • Cloud-based delivery models free up corporate resources to focus on more mission-critical activities, while providing more flexibility and agility in the face of changing requirements.

Separating the leaders from the laggards

Not surprisingly, there seems to be a correlation between companies that report strong corporate performance (in terms of a year-on-year growth rate) and a highly agile BI environment, according to Forrester Consulting. Why? Because companies that are leveraging the latest innovations in BI technology are better able to predict trends, react quickly to changing requirements, and access the business-critical information they need – when and where they need it – to make better business decisions. And, in a challenging global environment where competition is growing and changing like never before, information is crucial to competitive differentiation.

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