Business intelligence: At its best when highly targeted

Companies the world over are desperate to improve their operations through the use of business intelligence. However, they may miss out on important details that could prove vital to getting the results they crave. For instance, it's easy to cast too wide a net and not actually solve a business's particular problems. Smart Data Collective contributor Ray Major recently highlighted the need to pick an objective and go after it.

Driven by unique needs
Organizations embracing business analytics may end up simply deciding to take in and use anything vaguely related to their operations. This strategy may not get them far, however, and Major offered a better answer. He recommended picking out key performance indicators that can actually deliver up-to-date readings on the company's process. With these chosen and a distinctive goal in place, organizations can focus on the segments of their data that are actually relevant and worth working with.

The variety of content that can be mined for insight today is extremely vast. This is an advantage in many ways, as there is a chance to deepen insights through big data algorithms. However, it can also lead to dead ends and wasted resources. What Major proposed is a way through these issues, with business leaders effectively locating their data and making it useful in an everyday analytics context.

Clarity of purpose is the key concept when it comes to effective BI. Major suggested a system where companies learn extensively about their own operations, from stating clear high-level goals to picking out the ground-level data resources that are likely to deliver important insights about their performance and efforts to reach major objectives. Such a unified ecosystem offers the potential for self-review, checking whether everything is in order. A scattered or more exploratory approach could deliver significantly less surety. BI can be a great tool to achieve well-established milestones.

Market on the move
While not every company has completely figured out a use case for BI, the technology's adoption is ongoing. Forbes contributor Louis Columbus, reporting on the most recent Gartner information, stated that analytics was a $14.4 billion market in 2013. That number rose 8 percent from the previous year, showing that BI is still on the rise. The rise in use will also be accompanied by a change in deployment method, as Columbus reported that Gartner found that half of businesses are ready for cloud BI. While the approach to analytics use may change, the goal will likely always be the same: operational excellence.

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