What Is Business Intelligence Reporting? Overview For Businesses

How Does Business Intelligence Reporting Work?

First and foremost, business intelligence (BI) software is a collection of automated tools that gather, organize, and transform data into insights. It focuses on internal information rather than broad market trends, so companies can work on improving operations. The entirety of BI is rather broad but typically consists of-

  • Data integration
  • Data visualization
  • Data warehousing
  • Dashboards
  • Data reporting

BI reporting occurs after the software has already gathered and scrutinized the relevant information. However, the reporting tools are responsible for sifting through established systems, both on-site and cloud-based, to collect data. Software is able to use machine learning to identify sales, revenue, inventory, and performance metrics. Then it applies various dimensions, such as dates, benchmarks, and other variables, to develop an analysis model.

Depending on the type of data, companies can generate tables, charts, or graphs to display the information comprehensibly. For example, line graphs are excellent for showing variable progress over an extended period of time. On the other hand, pie charts are better for showing the various components that make up an entity. Employees can see all of these visual aids on the software's dashboard and watch the software update them with real-time data. This saves workers the time and labor it takes to manually gather the newest information and update models.

The Benefits of Business Intelligence

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BI reporting is virtually limitless and can cater to any specific company's needs. However, the universal benefits include the following.

Fast Reporting

BI reporting software has drag-and-drop functionality, allowing employees to quickly generate reports with a simple click. Companies don't have to worry about manually aggregating real-time data to update models. Instead, BI solutions integrate with established systems to automate data management. This minimizes wait times on information collection, analysis, and report generation.

Improved Decision-Making

Most BI dashboards also display key performance metrics (KPIs) that allow managers to make informed, snap decisions. Depending on what systems link with the BI solution, supervisors can monitor various metrics.

  • Employee performance
  • Sales
  • Customer engagement
  • Inventory levels
  • Profit margins
  • Revenue
  • Retention rates
  • Potential leads

This accessibility streamlines decision-making so stakeholders can immediately take action on time-sensitive matters.

Increased Productivity and Speed

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Automated BI reports deliver the relevant information to each employee so they can complete their tasks. This saves them the time it takes to search for specific data sets, improving productivity. Instead of busywork, employees can focus on improving resource allocation and building revenue streams.

In addition to productivity, BI reporting increases workflow speed and operational efficiency. Traditionally, the IT department was responsible for generating reports, which could take several days. Meanwhile, employees relying on this report to move forward with tasks are forced to wait until it becomes available.

Modern BI software connects each department to promote collaboration and open communication. By centralizing data, workers understand precisely where to find specific information. Project managers can also check-in on each member to ensure they are meeting benchmarks in a timely manner.

Cost Reduction

Manual data management methods are costly, as they require extensive labor, energy, and resources. BI software automates repetitive tasks, freeing up employees to focus on more demanding tasks. While BI solutions require an initial investment, it is worth the return on investment (ROI) in the long run. Down the line, companies find that they actually save money that would have supplemented manual data integration.

Improved Data Quality

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Perhaps the most powerful advantage of BI reporting is its ability to transform data. When businesses collect data, it is typically raw and unstructured, meaning each data point is insignificant without the other. BI software aggregates and organizes large volumes of raw data to create comprehensive reports and actionable insights. Without this technology, organizations would be left with databases full of inconclusive information.

Business Intelligence Best Practices

Before delving into a BI project, owners should review the best BI reporting practices.

Identify Customer Needs

Project managers need to define their audience's needs before launching their program to ensure requirements are valid. Based on needs, employees can determine which KPIs they need to monitor throughout the entirety of their project.

Prepare Data

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Businesses should prepare their data and determine its relevance before entering it into the system. Otherwise, employees will waste their time sorting through information that does not influence their operation. Managers should also assign workers to clean data by eliminating duplicates and resolving inconsistencies.

Increase Flexibility

A successful BI project is not rigid. It must be flexible enough to adapt to unexpected changes. Therefore, managers shouldn't restrict a project to limited databases and on-site technology. Instead, companies should utilize cloud-based solutions that promote flexibility and scalability.

Govern Data

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Most BI software allows IT employees to set boundaries, restrictions, and permission prompts throughout their solution for security purposes. Therefore, managers need to determine what regulations promote data safety without hindering operational efficiency.

Tell a Story

Data needs to tell a story in order for it to have an impact on decision-makers. Trends should be understandable and emphasize the importance of a particular initiative. Therefore, employees should use visual aids and designs to illustrate what data is trying to say.

Promote Evolution

Along the lines of flexibility, managers must be able to adapt to the newest technology. Just as BI isn't the same as it was 10 years ago, it won't look the same down the road.

Train Employees on Data Literacy

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Lastly, managers should educate employees on data literacy so they understand its impact and importance. Otherwise, workers will not recognize the significance of their tasks and efforts.

Business Intelligence Software

Businesses need BI software that caters to their needs without compromising flexibility. Zip Forecasting offers sophisticated predictive models that complement any type of company, regardless of its size or industry. With seamless integration, organizations can connect Zip Forecasting to existing solutions to generate reports on any operation.

For example, Zip Forecasting can connect to point-of-sale (POS) software to collect historical and real-time sales trends. After analysis, the software generates sales and demand forecasts for each product line, store, and department. This enables management to optimize employee schedules, procurement, and inventory control to drive sales.