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How to Sharpen Your Axe Using Business Intelligence

Thriving businesses today are not hit or miss enterprises.

“Ugh! There’s nothing to watch!”

When we Gen-Xers were teenagers, this was our constant complaint to our parents. We sat on the couch, eyes glued to the television, flipping through the same 25 channels over and over. Looking back, such complaints are confounding. 25 options is more than any individual could reasonably ask for. Such statements were ultimately an early symptom of a phenomenon that has since taken on huge proportions. It has come to dominate nearly all sectors of society: FOBO, which means “Fear of Better Options.”

Fear of Better Options

Patrick McGinnis coined the term FOBO in 2003 when he was a student at Harvard Business School. In the New York Times, Tim Herrera summarizes FOBO as the “spiral we fall into when we obsessively research every possible option when faced with a decision, fearing we’ll miss out on the ‘best’ one. It can lead to indecision (duh), regret, and even lower levels of happiness.”

Thriving businesses today are not hit or miss enterprises. They, like all other businesses, are exposed to FOBO. So much internal and external data to sift through and order, it leaves them stupified and incapacitated. It paralyzes some and overwhelms others. Only a few know how to successfully harvest and harness the inordinate amount of data in order to make decisions and act.

Business Intelligence

It is business intelligence (BI) — the strategies and technologies enterprises use to transform data into actionable insights — that gives these few successful enterprises their competitive edge. And it is AI that provides businesses with this coveted BI. These businesses leave the processing of data up to the computers. They allow the humans to make the best data-driven decisions without fear of overlooking a better option.  

Understanding BI

BI technologies can analyze past, present, and future estimates of business operations. They can offer guidance on which course of action is the best, ending paralysis. Since these BI technologies can handle such large amounts of data (structured and unstructured), they can do far more than just guide day-to-day decision-making. Your company has data – even if it’s a small company. That data is as valuable an asset as any valuable employee, which means a lot. Harvest it, protect it, and apply it to your growth strategies.

BI technologies can help businesses identify, develop, and create new strategic business opportunities. Specifically, BI creates powerful data analysis models. These can intelligently find and anticipate new customer trends, identify new services to deliver, and to optimize customer experiences. This is critical, as identifying new opportunities and implementing an effective strategy based on insights can provide businesses with a competitive market advantage and long-term stability.

Businesses can best utilize and take advantage of BI by combining external data, derived from the market in which the company operates, and your own internal data. This can be from sources within the business (such as financial, operational data, audits, and network/web traffic). When combined, external and internal data offer an integral overview. This creates an “intelligence” that cannot be derived from any singular set of data. It can even be helpful in developing a strategy to combat Covid in the workplace.

The role of AI in BI

Yet, it is the AI technologies involved in BI that can help a business go from being great to being the greatest.

They can reconcile financial data generated by multiple sources for accuracy prior to publishing, thus reducing the risk of inaccurate financial statements and reports that can result in fines, penalties, and reputation damage. And they can analyze this plethora of information and provide actional decision-making guidance almost instantaneously. When it comes to compliance, AI technologies can employ policy automation and continuous scanning to ensure compliance with diverse regulatory instances — like following the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), complying with regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and verifying observance of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The regulations set by these instances overwhelm traditional computer-based integrative systems, but not AI.

Ultimately, AI and BI bring lower costs and increased productivity. They can automate identification, notification, and resolution of business process exceptions, including accelerating root-cause analysis, enabling employees to focus on more strategic value-added tasks.

Tackle BI in your business

The possibilities are numerous, and there is no need to fear a better option when integrating AI and BI into our business processes. BI allows us to analyze all the information we put in, and get reliable, accurate guidance on the best path forward.

So, curious about getting your business intelligence game on? Check out some of these great startups, like Thinknum and Accrete.ai, which can offer your small business a significant BI advantage. This article is by Suitless blogger Bill Webster.

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