July 5, 2022
Ryan Buick
Ryan Buick

Everything You Must Know About Business Intelligence Reporting

Business intelligence is exactly what it sounds like: highly valuable information regarding a business that reflects how well it's doing. A small mom-and-pop shop can take a look at their merchandise, listen to what their customers are saying, and double-check how much they're making at any given point in time. From that information, they can conclude if they're performing well based on revenues and feedback. Though simple due to its limited scale, that's essentially business intelligence in action.

Of course, business intelligence becomes a bit more complicated than the mom-and-pop level for medium to large businesses with many more data points and considerations. The uses are generally the same, however — use insights gained from business intelligence to assess how well things are going and make the right decisions moving forward.

That's what a local district school board in Hamilton did when they wanted to understand where they should invest their limited budget. They analyzed their business intelligence and used their conclusions to raise teaching standards, improve student performance, and reach record-high graduation rates. If you've ever played Angry Birds before, note that mobile game developer Rovio Entertainment also used business intelligence. They took a look at analytics and business intelligence to actually transform the way the entire organization works. If you own a Samsung smartphone, you're giving the company valuable business intelligence. Samsung uses market reports and data dashboards to dig deeper and find out how their customers prefer their device upgrades to make decisions concerning billion-dollar product lines.

Business intelligence capabilities are generally divided into what tools are doing what task. By and large, the distinction is between information gathering, analysis, and reporting. The reporting aspect lets users make sense of information, kind of like how automated smart charts easily explain raw data on spreadsheets through visualizing it. Of course, business intelligence reporting tools are capable of much more than just letting you choose between line or bar charts.

This article will delve into everything you need to know about Business Intelligence Reporting tools and software. It explains business intelligence reporting, discusses its importance, and outlines steps to make it work even better for your business.

What Is Business Intelligence Reporting?

The concept of Business Intelligence Reporting is straightforward: it's the preparation of analyzed intelligence into an easily digestible format. Where BI measures the overall health of your organization and the impact of your strategic initiatives, BI reporting is the method by which all the analyzed data points are presented in an easy-to-understand manner.

Remember the smart chart analogy? In more concrete terms, BI reporting is where the numbers and the figures are converted into more readable charts and other helpful data visualizations. These types of data visualizations are a few levels higher than simple charts, though, and can be fully interactive and real-time. In the same way automatically generated graphs help business users much better absorb key insights they might otherwise struggle to identify, business intelligence reporting tools and software help interpret key takeaways from BI analysis.

Why BI Reporting Matters

Would you rather look at a thousand rows of data or a graph that tells you the most important conclusions you can derive from all the information? Each part of a BI strategy and the tools used every step of the way excel at a few actions in particular. Software used in data gathering is great at collating Big Data from various sources. Business intelligence analysis tools show the ups and downs of BI strategy. Business intelligence reporting software excels in converting those pieces of information into actionable insights.

The best BI reporting software provides these insights in a way that makes the most sense for your decision-makers. Through features like self-service BI, you can easily analyze data without coding. With interactive dashboards that output rich data visualizations, you can breeze through different analyses and configurations of data, even collaboratively in real-time.

BI reporting is crucial to your enterprise as it gives you all these capabilities practically anytime you require them. You don't need to call for a meeting and wait for an analyst to put together a presentation your stakeholders can use to make decisions.

To further break down these benefits:

Offers Meaningful Insights Into Business Performance

Unsurprisingly, BI reporting is critical in the technology, retail, wholesale, and finance industries. BI reporting offers meaningful insights into business performance that lets companies in these consumer-facing, agile sectors keep up with their client's needs quickly and efficiently.

With its analysis capabilities and real-time processing, BI reporting can indicate underperforming areas of business based on how you want to structure and analyze your data. You can quickly set dashboard configurations to keep track of your most important key performance indicators (KPI) and easily configure data visualizations to check other metrics and see how well they're doing.

And BI reporting can truly offer meaningful insights, not just single-point KPIs. You can configure various metrics to show trends and patterns through different types of data visualization you would otherwise not have access to or need a highly trained analyst — and perhaps even a programmer — to perform.

Provides Updates on Key Performance Indicators

Speaking KPIs, powerful BI reporting tools can keep you updated on metrics in real-time. As mentioned before, you can set your BI dashboard to show preferred KPIs constantly, so you know how they're performing at a glance. Of course, what truly sets BI reporting tools apart from simple analytics tracking software is how you can configure settings to show you KPIs and insights derived from those metrics.

You can set your dashboards to display not just individual KPIs but the complete data visualizations extrapolated from important and constantly updated metrics so that you can access meaningful, actionable information anytime. BI reporting tools map raw metrics into a bird's-eye view of visual insights to assist with performance management. The beautiful data visualizations delivered by BI data dashboards are meant to be easily and clearly understood by anyone, regardless of technical proficiency in statistical analysis or data modeling.

Improves Accuracy of Predictive Analytics

Predictive analysis thrives on the availability of Big Data and the analytic capabilities of the engine that crunches all the information. BI tools look at past performance over time to generate current intelligence, while predictive analytics tools try to forecast what will happen next and provide you with options moving forward.

Naturally, considerable BI capabilities will give your predictive analytics more historical information upon which to base its modeling.

Once your BI adoption has matured to a level where you've set up organization-wide standards, you can use BI with predictive analytics to fine-tune forecast modeling and even target specific business areas.

Saves Important Resources for Business Teams

Capable BI reporting tools perform functions that would otherwise require precious in-house resources. Remember the above example about calling for a stakeholder meeting only to wait for an analyst to draft reports and even an engineer or data team to help?

It isn't uncommon for businesses unaware of the need for BI tools to begin adoption with such manual processes. The more meetings bottlenecked by the need for different in-house resources to generate visualized insights from business data, the more quickly they'll realize that BI reporting software takes the place of several important resources.

Creates Actionable Insights To Improve Customer Experience

BI software can actively play a role in directly improving customer experience. If you're already tracking granular metrics related to customer loyalty and satisfaction, you can use rich data visualizations to gain insights on that front, as well.

As a concrete example, in your customer support tool, you can cross-reference customer hold time or call transfer metrics with issue resolution figures and draw correlations between how much time you need to put customers on hold or how many times they are transferred and how often their issues are resolved.

Just look at the capabilities of your BI reporting tools, and you can explore other ways to gain actionable insights into the customer experience.

How To Enhance the Reporting Process

Remember that leveraging company standards and using the tools you're provided can turn a novel graph meant to spice up your presentation into an insight-packed interactive visualization that imparts several actionable data points at once.

Set Business Goals and Identify Audience Needs Early

Your BI reporting software may be highly capable, but it still relies on configurations you set. To enhance the reporting process, you need to calibrate your data dashboards and analyses to business goals and audience needs distinct to your organization, projects, and campaigns.

Otherwise, you may not be getting useful insights — or worse, you may get actionable information on noncritical areas of your business. It's generally best practice to perform due diligence and make sure you do the prep work for these fundamental factors from the beginning.

Paint a Picture With Interactive Data Visualizations

Maximize your reporting capabilities with actionable rich data visualizations. Graphs and charts are simply easier to understand than tables of text. Now, you can increase the usefulness of a single data visualization by using an interactive version.

One example is a historical data visualization of KPI performance across multiple locations over time. Typically, you need to scroll through a few charts to show all that data, but with interactive visualization, you can toggle controls in real-time to compare stats and even overlay them for a more stark comparison. There are a variety of different ways to use interactive visualizations in a way that efficiently communicates your message.

In fact, interactive visualizations can also improve discussions of strategy since real-time, interactive charts can also reflect different outcomes when given various data points.

Take Time To Build a Data Literacy Culture

You may not need an analyst whenever you want to bring up a new data visualization on your screen with a capable data dashboard, but you do need to ensure every BI reporting user at every level is armed with the appropriate data literacy. Your organization is full of nontechnical users and employees in departments that rely on BI insights. They need to be able to make meaningful decisions that guide their entire process without needing an additional person that's well-versed in BI tools.

Adopting a data dashboard works best if you train its users in how it works and how to approach its operation. It's best to take a step further than just ensuring process training and building a work culture that values data literacy.

There are a few reasons for this. Among the most significant ones are:

  • Data literacy doesn't end with one training session because it is not a simple skill. It is a continuous mindset fostered by culture, not a syllabus.
  • Teaching nontechnical users technical skill sets and data literacy improves their overall value as personnel and imparts a sense of ownership that generally raises morale.
  • Continued data literacy is dependent on consistently upskilling stakeholders whenever there are new trends or tools in the market. A culture of data literacy guarantees executive buy-in and enthusiastic participation from every stakeholder as time goes on.

Investing in long-term culture-building results in short-term gains that eventually lead to long-term benefits. You not only allow people in non-technical roles and the sales team immediate access to useful insights like campaign costs and sales reports, but you ensure they are prepared to take on greater responsibility for BI strategy in the long run.

Make Faster and Better Business Decisions With a Data Dashboard

Modern business is inundated with Big Data, and you need the appropriate tools to implement a business strategy successfully. A data dashboard that can generate different data visualizations is crucial to your business as it reaches a certain point of maturity and beyond. The right BI tools can help you target more aggressive business growth objectives.

There is no better way to make faster and more informed decisions than reliable BI reporting software with data dashboards that can offer you the insights you need at a glance. Tools like Canvas can work with various levels of business and scale with your organization. Take a look at how Canvas can power your business strategy by signing up now.

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