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Big data plays a crucial role in online data analysis, business information, and intelligent reporting. Companies must adjust to the ambiguity of data, and act accordingly. Spreadsheets no longer provide adequate solutions for a serious company looking to accurately analyze and utilize all the business information gathered.
That’s where business intelligence reporting comes into play - and, indeed, is proving pivotal in empowering organizations to collect data effectively and transform insight into action.
So, what is BI reporting advancing in a business? It provides the possibility to create smart reports with the help of modern BI reporting tools, and develop a comprehensive intelligent reporting practice. As a result, BI can benefit the overall evolution as well as the profitability of a company, regardless of niche or industry.
To put the business-boosting benefits of BI into perspective, we’ll explore the benefits of business intelligence reports, core BI characteristics, and the fundamental functions companies can leverage to get ahead of the competition while remaining on the top of their game in today’s increasingly competitive digital market. We will finish with some crucial tips on how to create the best BI reports and exceed your business goals.
Let’s get started by asking the question “What is business intelligence reporting?”
What Is BI Reporting?
Business intelligence reporting, or BI reporting, is the process of gathering data by utilizing different software and tools to extract relevant insights. Ultimately, it provides suggestions and observations about business trends, empowering decision-makers to act.
Online business intelligence and reporting are closely connected. If you gather data, you need to analyze and report on it, no matter which industry or sector you operate in.
Consequently, you can develop a more strategic approach to your business decisions and gather insights that would have otherwise remain overlooked. But let’s see in more detail what the benefits of these kinds of reporting practices are, and how businesses, whether small or enterprises, can develop profitable results.
Benefits Of Business Intelligence And Reporting
There are a number of advantages a company can gain if they approach their reporting correctly and strategically. The main goal of BI reports is to deliver comprehensive data that can be easily accessed, interpreted, and provide actionable insights.
Let’s see what the crucial benefits are:
1. Increasing the workflow speed
Managers, employees, and important stakeholders often can be stuck by waiting for a comprehensive BI report from the IT department or SQL developers. Especially if a company connects its data from different data sources. The process can take days, which slows down the workflow. Decisions cannot be made, analysis cannot be done, and the whole company is affected.
Centralizing all the data sources into a single place, with data connectors that can provide one point of access for all non-technical users in a company, is one of the main benefits a company can have. The data-driven world doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and with the right BI tools, the entire process can be easily managed with a few clicks.
2. Implementation in any industry or department
Creating a comprehensive BI report can be a daunting task for any department, employee, or manager. The goals of writing successful, smart reports include cost reduction and improvement of efficiency. One business report example can focus on finance, another on sales, the third on marketing. It depends on the specific needs of a company or department.
For example, a sales report can act as a navigational aid to keep the sales team on the right track.
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As seen in the example above, this sales performance dashboard can give you a complete overview of sales targets and insights on whether the team is completing their individual objectives. Of course, the main goal is to increase customers’ lifetime value while decreasing acquisition costs. Let’s see another example.
Financial analytics can be kept under control with its numerous features that can remove complexities and establish a healthy and holistic overview of all the financial information a company manages.
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On the financial dashboard example above, the financial overview is concentrated on how efficient is the overall spending of the capital. The balance sheet gives an overview of the main metrics which can easily define trends and the way company assets are being managed.
It doesn’t stop here. Another business intelligence report sample can be applied to logistics, one of the sectors that can make the most out of business intelligence and analytics, therefore, easily track shipments, returns, sizes, or weights, just to name a few.
Enhancing the recruitment process with HR analytics tools can bring dynamic data under the umbrella of BI reporting, making feedbacks, interviews, applicants’ experience, and staffing analysis easier to process and derive solutions. This is just one business intelligence report sample that can be developed in more detail by establishing the right KPIs and developing a business strategy and goals.
3. Utilization of real-time and historical data
With traditional means of reporting, it is difficult to utilize and comprehend the vast amount of gathered data. Creating a simple presentation out of voluminous information can challenge even the most experienced managers. Reporting in business intelligence is a seamless process since historical data is also provided within an online reporting tool that can process and generate all the business information needed.
Another crucial factor to consider is the possibility to utilize real-time data. The amount of sophistication that reporting in BI projects can achieve cannot be compared with the traditional ones. A report written as a word document will not provide the same amount of information and benefit as real-time data analysis, with implemented alarms that can forewarn any business anomaly, and that kind of support software will consequently increase business efficiency and decrease costs. It is not crucial to establish a whole department to manage and implement this process – numerous presentation software can help on the way.
4. Customer analysis and behavioral prediction
There is no company in the world which doesn’t concentrate on their customers. They are ultimately the ones that provide revenue and define if a business will survive the market.
Customers have also become more selective towards buying and deciding which brand should they trust. They prefer brands “who can resonate between perceptual product and self-psychological needs.” If you can tackle their emotional needs, and predict their behavior, you will stimulate purchase and provide a smooth customer experience. BI reports can combine those resources and provide a stimulating user experience. The key is to gather information and adjust to user needs and business goals, as shown in the picture below.
Today there are numerous ways in which a customer can interact with a specific company. Chatbots, social media, emails, or direct interaction; the possibilities are endless.
The increment of these kinds of engagement has increased the number of communication touchpoints and, consequently, sources of data. All of the information gathered can provide a holistic overview of the customer, evaluate why a certain strategy worked or failed, connect the cause and effect of customer service reports, and, thus, improve business operations.
5. Operational optimization and forecasting
Every serious business uses key performance indicators to measure and evaluate success. There are countless KPI examples to select and adopt in a strategy, but only the right tracking and analysis can bring profitable results. Business intelligence and reporting are not just focused on the tracking part, but include forecasting based on predictive analytics and artificial intelligence that can easily help avoid making a costly and time-consuming business decision. Reporting in business intelligence is, therefore, highlighted from multiple angles that can provide insights that can otherwise stay overlooked.
6. Cost optimization
Another important factor to consider is cost optimization. As every business needs to seriously consider their expenses and ROI (return on investment), often the costs and savings are hardly measured. In the example below, you can see an interactive calculator that features yearly savings by investing in a business reporting software.
You can clearly see that, in this example, the savings surpass 75.000€ per year – evident data that can be easily calculated by small businesses and large enterprises with just a few clicks.
7. Informed strategic decision-making
Whether you’re a CEO, an executive, or managing a small team, with great power comes great responsibility. As someone with corporate seniority, you will need to formulate crucial strategies and make important choices that have a significant impact on the business. Naturally, decisions and initiatives of this magnitude aren’t to be taken lightly. That’s where reporting business intelligence tools come in.
Concerning senior decision-making or strategy formulation, it’s essential to use digital data to your advantage to guide you through the process. BI reporting dashboards are intuitive, visual, and provide a wealth of relevant data, allowing you to spot trends, identify potential strengths or weaknesses, and uncover groundbreaking insights with ease.
Whether you need to streamline your budget, put together a targeted marketing campaign, improve an internal process, or anything else you can think of, leveraging BI will give you the ability to make swift, informed decisions and set actionable milestones or benchmarks based on solid information.
The customizable nature of modern data analytic stools means that it’s possible to create dashboards that suit your exact needs, goals, and preferences, improving the senior decision-making process significantly.
For more on the virtues of BI tools, explore our full guide to executive dashboard reporting.
8. Streamlined procurement processes
One of the key benefits of BI-based reports is that if they’re arranged in a digestible format, they offer access to logical patterns and insights that will allow you to make key areas of your business more efficient. This is particularly true if you deal in a high turnover of goods or services. And if this is the case, it's more than likely that you have some form of a procurement department.
Your procurement processes are vital to the overall success and sustainability of your business, as its functionality will filter down through every core facet of the organization. Business intelligence reporting will help you streamline your procurement strategy by offering clear-cut visualizations based on all key functions within the department.
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Our procurement dashboard above is not only visually balanced but also offers a clear-cut snapshot of every vital metric you need to improve your procurement processes at a glance.
Working with three primary KPIs — compliance rate, number of suppliers, and purchase order cycle time — this invaluable BI dashboard is focused on improving supplier relationships, driving down unnecessary costs, and streamlining the procurement cycle, among a host of additional initiatives.
Working with interactive dashboards will empower you to summarize your procurement department's activities with confidence, which, in turn, will help you catalyze your success while building brand awareness. In the digital age, brand awareness is priceless to the continual growth of your organization.
Another undeniable benefit of BI in the modern age.
9. Enhanced data quality
One of the most clear-cut and powerful benefits of data intelligence for business is the fact that it empowers the user to squeeze every last drop of value from their data.
In a digital business landscape where new data is created at a rapid rate, understanding which insights and metrics hold real value is a minefield. With so much information and such little time, intelligent data analytics can seem like an impossible feat.
We’ve touched on this subject throughout this post, but enhanced data quality is such a powerful benefit that it’s worth exploring in its own right. To put this notion into a practical perspective, it’s important to consider the core features and functions of modern BI dashboards:
- Non-restricted data access: Typically, cutting-edge data intelligence dashboards are accessible across a broad range of mobile devices for non-restricted 24/7 access to essential trends, metrics, and insights. This makes it possible to make informed data-driven decisions anytime, anywhere, increasing productivity in the process.
- Purity: As modern BI tools operate using highly visual and focused KPIs, you can take charge of your data, ensuring that the metrics you’re served are 100% relevant to the ongoing success of your business. These intuitive tools work as incredibly effective data curation and filtration systems. As a result, your decisions will be accurate, and you will never waste time on redundant data again.
- Organizational inclusion: The accessible, seamless functionality of BI tools means that you don’t have to be technically-minded to reap the rewards of data intelligence. As it’s possible to customize each dashboard to the specific needs of your user with ease and extract meaningful insights from a wealth of dynamic KPIs, everyone within the organization can improve their direct performance with data analytics—something that will benefit the entire organization enormously. Today’s dashboards are inclusive and improve the overall value of your organization’s data.
- Data storytelling capabilities: If you’re able to tell an inspiring, relevant story with your data, you can deliver vital information in a way that resonates with your audience, whether it’s employees or external stakeholders. Intelligence dashboards make data storytelling widely accessible. Here are some practical data storytelling examples that prove the narrative-forming power of BI dashboards.
10. Human resources & employee performance management
Last but certainly not least in our definitive rubdown of BI benefits, we’re going to consider how BI-centric reports can assist performance management.
By gaining centralized access to performance-based KPIs, it’s easy to identify trends in productivity, compare relevant metrics, and hone in on individual performance. In doing so, you can catalyze the success of your business in a big way. To put this into perspective, we’re going to look at human resources and employee performance management.
In many ways, your employees are the lifeblood of your entire organization. If the talent within your organization is suffering, your business will, too. Keeping your staff engaged and motivated is vital.
Role or department aside, if your employees are invested in their work, each other, and the core company mission, your business will continue to thrive. But how can reporting business intelligence software help with employee engagement and motivation?
By gaining access to dynamic visual data based on the individual as well as collective employee performance, it’s possible to offer training as well as support to your staff where needed, while implementing leader boards to inspire everyone to work to the best of their abilities.
Offering your employees tailored support and growth opportunities, showing that you care, and offering incentives will help you increase motivation exponentially.
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As a primary duty of the modern human resources department, having the insights to manage internal talent at your disposal is crucial. Our HR-based employee dashboard offers the opportunity to drill down into essential key performance indicators, including attendance rates, productivity, training costs, and overtime hours accrued—all invaluable insights for sustainable performance management initiatives.
The ability to interact with focused employee data will empower you to create strategies that boost performance, employee satisfaction, and internal cohesion in a way that gives you an all-important edge on the competition.
Improved internal communication plays a pivotal role in employee performance and motivation. Find out how big screen dashboards can help improve departmental cohesion with our definitive guide to office dashboards.
How To Achieve A Quality BI Report
1. Define your stakeholders
The first step to creating a quality BI report is to answer the question: who am I addressing my report to? For this purpose, you should start by listing all the stakeholders that will need to use the report, and based on their needs and technical skills, include only the information that is relevant for them. When using your BI reports as a tool for discussions precision is key. If you include more KPIs than what it's needed you risk wasting time and resources, or even arriving at the wrong conclusions for considering unnecessary metrics in the analysis process.
Apart from the right information, you should also consider the type of BI report that will be more useful for each stakeholder. Maybe some will benefit from performance reports with live data that they can check daily, and others from monthly reports with more detailed metrics. This way you can also plan your BI reporting schedule in advance and make sure that everyone gets what they need in time. For this purpose automated reporting tools such as datapine include features where you can easily schedule your reports. Here is a video to illustrate it for you:
2. Choose the right metrics
Once you have chosen your audience it is time to pick the right KPIs for your BI report with the help of a KPI tool. Each business is different, therefore what might work for some, might be completely different for others. Some aspects you should consider to pick the right metrics for your BI reports are:
- Your business goals, are they long-term or short-term?
- Your audience, what type of role do they play in decision-making?
- The context of your analysis, what metrics will help you to tell a comprehensive data story and allow you to take proper action?
Even though the possibility to utilize many sources to create your reports is a benefit that you shouldn’t ignore from BI reporting, losing time with irrelevant information is easy. Staying focused on your business aims will help you benefit from a mix of visual benchmarks to keep track of your progress accurately. It is important to consider that from time to time you can try to include other KPIs in your reports if you see a hidden opportunity or if it can provide a context in a discussion about your main metrics.
3. Take advantage of data visualizations
As we told you on a previous point, choosing how to visualize your data in your BI report is just as important as picking the right metrics. Considering that humans process visual information 60.000 times faster than text, it is impossible to ignore the potential of using powerful visualizations for your data storytelling.
As with any other process, choosing your data visualizations has aspects that you need to take into consideration. For example, if you are producing a client report, you can personalize it with the colors and logo of your brand to make you look more professional. You also need to consider space. Sometimes for bigger analysis, you might risk making your reports cluttered and hard to decipher by adding too many metrics on them. For this reason, you should always rely on BI tools with features such as data filtering. This way you can present all the information on one screen and play with the charts depending on the discussion. Finally, with the help of BI dashboard tools, you should make your visuals adaptable for different devices such as desktop, tablet, or mobile this will make your reports more accessible for everyone.
The workflow of your business can be significantly increased by utilizing BI reports in the form of interactive, and real-time visual data. Each information can be gathered into a single, live dashboard, that will ultimately secure a fast, clear, simple, and effective workflow. This kind of BI report will become visual, easily accessed, and steadfast in gathering insights.
4. Monitor your data
Using artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms is the ultimate value you can add to a BI report. As we’ve stated over and over again, managing big amounts of data is not an easy task. It is time-consuming and needs constant monitoring to catch any anomalies that might affect the business. To tackle this issue, datapine has developed intelligent data alerts using neural networks to find any relevant change in your data and immediately send you a notification so you can deal with it fast.
Apart from discovering anomalies, this type of technology has pattern recognition abilities. With just a few clicks, you set a trend or a specific KPI and the tool uses historical data to predict future values and trends. Adding this type of technology to your BI reporting efforts will give you control over what drives your business as well as save time on manual monitoring. In the image below you can see how data alerts from datapine work.
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5. Implement a data-driven culture in your business
One of the ultimate tips to succeed with your Business Intelligence reporting is to take them one step further. We’ve already mentioned the power a BI report can provide in terms of team collaboration. Now we want to tell you how having a permanent data-driven culture implemented in your company will ensure its long-term success. Here we explain three points so everyone in your company can use BI reports to make decisions based on facts on not simple intuition.
- Empower your team: One of the most important aspects to consider when using data to make decisions is to empower everyone in your organization to do the same. Teach your employees that there is no need to be experts to implement data into their working processes. You can start by encouraging them to answer questions like why something happened, how did it happen, and what is the best way to move forward.
- Invest in Data Literacy: After motivating your team and introducing them to the power of data analysis you should teach them how to do it. Data literacy is the ability to analyze, read and make decisions with data. Having the ability to communicate data, understand results, and put information in context to avoid misleading conclusions. By investing in this you will make sure that everyone in your business speaks the language of data.
- Promote accessibility: Once everyone in your organization is up-to-date with the importance of data, you should implement technology that is user-friendly and accessible for everyone. Data analysis tools such as datapine offer an easy-to-use interface with interactive features that don't require advanced skills to create powerful BI reports.
6. Be willing to learn and adapt
Our last point on how to achieve quality BI reports is to never stop learning. Even though you might've created the perfect BI report for your business strategy, it might not be relevant tomorrow or in a week. For this reason, you should always be adaptable to change, monitor your processes constantly, and make sure that you find problems fast and be ready to tackle them.
With more and more data being produced every year, the business intelligence industry never stops evolving. This is why another important part of your reporting process should be the willingness to adapt to new technologies that will ensure you keep extracting the maximum value out of your data and exceed your competition.
Reporting In Business Intelligence: The Future Of A Sustainable Company
Collecting data in today’s digitally-driven world is important, but analyzing it to its optimum capacity is even more crucial if a business wants to enjoy sustainable success in the face of constant change.
Reporting and business intelligence play a crucial role in obtaining underlying figures to explain decisions and present data in a way that offers direct benefits to the business. As we mentioned earlier, there is no industry that isn’t currently affected by the importance of data and analysis. We have only scratched the surface with our top benefits which any company can take advantage of and bring positive business results.
In another guide, we drilled down into what the future of business intelligence will resemble in the coming years. In this bold new world of data intelligence, businesses of all sizes can use BI tools to transform insight into action and push themselves ahead of the pack, becoming leaders in their field.
Spotting business issues, with BI solutions that provide detailed business intelligence reports, can only create space for future development, cost reduction, and comprehensive analysis of the strategic and operational state of a company.
To summarize, here are the top benefits of business intelligence reporting:
- Increasing the workflow speed
- Implementation in any industry or department
- Utilization of real-time and historical data
- Customer analysis and behavioral prediction
- Operational optimization and forecasting
- Cost optimization
- Informed strategic decision-making
- Streamlined procurement processes
- Enhanced data quality
- Human resources and employee performance management
And top best practices to achieve a quality BI report:
- Define your stakeholders
- Choose the right metrics
- Take advantage of data visualizations
- Monitor your data
- Implement a data-driven culture in your business
- Be willing to learn and adapt
"Data will talk if you’re willing to listen to it." – Jim Bergeson
Throughout the course of this guide, we’ve offered a practical introduction to the concept of business intelligence, considered the role of BI reporting in the modern business environment, and explored the undeniable benefits of using the right tools to improve your data analytics efforts, processes, and strategies.
By working with the right tools for the job, you will empower your entire organization to become stronger, more efficient, and of course, more intelligent. It doesn’t matter whether specialize in SaaS software, you’re a clothing retailer, you sell electronics, you’re a mobile app provider - or anything else for that matter - if you embrace intelligence in business today you will reap the rewards of a brighter tomorrow.
Over to you: If you are eager to improve your in-house data analytics initiatives, try our cutting-edge BI reporting software for a 14-day trial, completely free.