Business Intelligence for dummies - all you need to know about BI
Co-Founder and COO
A business intelligence platform is the backbone of companies' ability to proactively increase profitability by identifying actionable information.
December 13, 2021
5 min read
I bet you have heard the words “Business Intelligence”(BI) more than once in the last week, but do you grasp the concept? No matter what industry you are in, BI is being implemented as we speak. It’s impacting industries and departments of organizations across the globe where expansive data sets are used to make decisions easier and faster. On average, companies use 3.8 different BI solutions indicating a one-size-fits-all platform does not exist to meet cross-functional BI needs. If you don’t want to fall behind during the next conversation with your co-workers, or even dinner date, I suggest you continue reading.
What is Business Intelligence?
According to IBM, “Business intelligence (BI) is an umbrella term for the technology that enables data preparation, data mining, data management, and data visualization. Business intelligence tools and processes allow end-users to identify actionable information from raw data, facilitating data-driven decision-making within organizations across various industries.”
The various Business Intelligence tools and techniques
Leveraging a companies' data to enhance business operations obviously has many use cases, but can be an intimidating project to take on. Due to enormous amounts of data being created every year, 74% of employees report feeling overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data, according to Accenture. In 2020, between 60 and 73 percent of all enterprise data was reported as never analyzed.
In light of the challenges data analytics presents, business intelligence tools are crucial for companies to capitalize on the valuable data they own. It's one thing to have the data, but the true value comes when you can efficiently use it to benefit your organization. Two of the biggest trends within BI are Artificial Intelligence and cloud analytics. AI and machine learning are known for mimicking complex tasks that previously could only be executed by human brains at a small scale. AI’s capability drives real-time data analysis and dashboard reporting.
Cloud analytics also drives new insights by identifying patterns in data but involves scalable algorithms in the cloud, deployed with powerful analytic software. Instead of having on-site installations, cloud analytics and other BI applications live in the cloud to analyze data on demand.
You might have already been interacting with BI, without knowing it, and some of the most well-known tools and techniques within BI are:
Analytics - By probing historical and current data, trends and insights are extracted to support the appropriate actions.
Dashboards - A collection of KPIs and other relevant data that are key data points for decision-making. Another visual BI tool to provide a quick way to measure KPIs track progress is scorecards.
Model visualization -This helpful tool transforms facts into charts and visually supports insights for interpretation.
Predictive modeling - A BI capability that uses statistics to generate trend models and probabilities to predict a value, or an outcome, for specific data sets.
Data mining: This technique uses statistics, database systems, and machine learning to uncover patterns in large datasets, and end-users use it to create models revealing patterns.
Concrete examples of how Business Intelligence is used in different scenarios
A BI platform is the technology that helps businesses gather, understand, and visualize their data. It’s often regarded as the backbone for using data to make better decisions, but the platforms and usage differ depending on the particular industry or business needs.
For a supply chain company, like a car manufacturer, optimizing its supply chain process is crucial. Instead of using spreadsheets, manual calculations, and even guesswork, a data visualization software can track KPIs and other metrics in real-time to quickly see where changes need to be made. A software like this allows users to build several dashboards suitable for each team.
Looking at the healthcare industry, there are many ways of using BI to improve operations, like using AI in the radiology department. The leading company within this space is called Arterys, a platform that extracts actionable insights from medical images instead of manually doing it. Not only is it more efficient, but it also reduces subjectivity and variability in clinical diagnosis.
If you are an event organizer, you would get the most impact by optimizing the revenue stream in dynamic pricing leading up to the event and maybe even using the location as a factor. The latter is a niched, location intelligence software, which gives insights based on maps and other spatial data. It can also be used to see trends in specific retail locations or even help determine where to open the next retail location.
If we look further at the consumer space, there are several personal finance management apps built on BI software to analyze where you spend your money and at what rate, to help you to estimate (and alert you) in real-time when and if you’ll run out of money before your next paycheck. The same technique can be applied to businesses where you analyze spending, benchmark it against peers, and get the insights of where to make changes and in real-time know how much is left of the company run rate.
Vic.ai and the future of accounting using Business Intelligence
At Vic.ai, we believe that BI will penetrate all parts of accounting. All things that were done manually before, like keeping spreadsheets to close a month, ingesting invoices, or manually looking for fraud and errors, will be enhanced by technology. We believe it’s reasonable to assume that all applications will be intelligent, and you’ll end up having the entire monthly accounting cycle performed and reconciled with various AI apps. The human element will be focused on defining exceptions, ensuring the AI is operating correctly, and other higher-value duties.
Vic.ai’s platform already has the ability to manipulate data to discover insights. Also, by leveraging our own data, our BI tools will be superior to those who use ready-packaged data because we have clearly structured it with these insights in mind. We’re not creating analytics from piecemealed data - we generate the data, then process and enrich it autonomously.
One of the key features in Vic’s Intelligence offering will be predictive modeling. Too often, finance departments are stuck in diagnostics - what and why it happened instead of looking at it from a predictive mindset. Our goal is to provide a technology that reduces the manual work of extracting, manipulating, and reconciling actual data from source systems. Monitoring spending in real-time provides data-driven insight for faster strategic decision-making, will improve financial agility, and allow for more predictive planning and actions.
BI does not have to be built as a stand-alone platform, it can also be embedded into other portals, as a part of a broader solution. This means you don’t have to rip up the systems you’ve worked so hard to build. Just like our autonomous invoice processing solution, BI can be layered across your financial back-office operations and integration with your current ERP system.
Learn how accounting AI can provide your team with actionable insights to improve efficiency
There are many obstacles that slow down the accounts payable workflow. What if you were able to alleviate these barriers and speed up invoice processing? Discover the power of artificial intelligence's ability to performs cost-side accounting autonomously. Download the free e-guide to to see how cutting edge accounting software does this by learning from your data and your accounting team, then gradually taking over the wheel with autonomous approval flows.