If, like many business owners, you’ve heard about the benefits of Business Intelligence (BI) but you’re not sure where to start, you’re not alone. Perhaps you’re using Excel to analyse data and forecast sales, and its working just fine. If so, you might be wondering “why invest time and effort in something when I can’t see the benefits?”
We’ve put together a quick guide to help you determine whether BI can give your business a boost – either by supplying the answers you’ve been looking for, or by revealing insights into things you hadn’t even thought about.
Do you have Excel experts in-house?
As a rough estimate 95% of us only use about 5% of Excel functionality. Even if you are an experienced user (or you have an Excel whizz in your team) a tool like Power BI will help you dig deeper into that 95%. In fact, Power BI evolved out of a native Excel capability, called Power Query, that dates back to around 2013.
Do you have access to a rich source of data?
This seems like an obvious question. But you don’t necessarily need a wide range of data. Even the name, age and postcode of your customers – if you have a large enough list – can identify trends and help you assess the real value of a lead or potential customer. Alternatively, you might have 10 years of sales figures. Using a BI tool, you can use half the data to build a model, and the other half to train and refine the algorithm – giving you a more intelligent prediction of the future.
Do you want to go beyond confirming what you know and reveal hidden insights?
Excel is very good for forecasting – or in other words for revealing ‘known unknowns’. Put in a set of data, add some formulas and you’ll get a result. It’s not so good for highlighting things you don’t know, which can lead to confirmation bias. BI on the other hand can highlight ‘unknown unknowns’ – such as trends, or anomalies, that you hadn’t even thought of.
Do you need an effective way to share information?
Cloud-based BI tools are very effective for both collecting and sharing data. If you’re looking for a simple tool for forecasting things like sales or retention figures, Excel will do a good job as long as you know how to create the right formulas. But it’s not great for sharing those results. Power BI lets you present and share data in intuitive interactive dashboards, which enable the user to choose how they view the information.
Do you want to be able to easily interrogate your data?
A great advantage of dashboards is that users around the business can choose what data they want to focus on. Dashboards enable you to move parameters around and see how this effects the outcome. Sure, you can do this in Excel too – but once you’ve built a dashboard, anyone in the business can use it. If the BI model is built properly, you can even ask it a question – and it will do the job of manipulating the parameters for you.
Are you committed to digital transformation?
There’s no question that starting a BI journey (and it is a journey) requires some enthusiasm and commitment. But you don’t need to be a data genius. There are courses available online that can help you build your first dashboard in a day. Alternatively, you can talk to an expert. We help many clients get started on their BI journey.
If you answered yes to two or more questions, then you’re certainly ready to start your BI journey. You’re probably already using data effectively, but you could gain valuable insights, remove information silos and more.
If you answered mostly no, now is the time to get your data foundations in place so that your BI journey can start strong and be as successful as possible.
Wherever you are on your BI journey, your business can benefit from a review of your existing systems and data landscape. To see how you are performing and get an unbiased view of where you are and what you could achieve, book a change++ Business Intelligence Health Check.