Business intelligence has seen an explosion of demand over the past decade. According to a survey performed by the Business Application Research Center (BARC), business intelligence usage rose from a modest 20% usage in 2008 to an astounding 53% in 2016. Of all areas of interest, customer behavior analysis saw the largest jump in investment for new business intelligence projects at 40%, while 32% of enterprises surveyed looked toward developing a unified view of customers.

Of course, that was then. How is business intelligence being used in today’s enterprise environment, and how will it be used in the future?

Data Discovery and Visualization
Data discovery is the process of identifying trends and exceptions to these trends through a visual medium. Specifically, data discovery is generally used to understand the relationships that internal data has with external data sources. In other words, how does the data from your in-house operations correlate with data that is found outside of your enterprise? This is where business intelligence comes in. BI allows your enterprise to collect data and prepare it for analysis, while also providing an outlet for this data to be represented visually.

Think about it this way–are you more likely to make a decision by looking at a chart filled with numbers, or by looking at a graph that plainly shows you the results that you are looking for? Let’s say that you want to add a new service or product to your repertoire, but you’re unsure of what you want to add. In this case, data discovery and visualization can be used to look at which of your services are most lucrative, as well as what your current or future customers want from your enterprise. By representing this information in an easy-to-read graph, compared to difficult-to-read spreadsheets filled with countless statistics, you’ll be able to better understand what your enterprise currently does well, and what your clients want from you in the future.

Self-Service Business Intelligence
The goal of self-service business intelligence is to allow users within your enterprise the ability to handle business intelligence tasks themselves, rather than passing them off to an internal or outsourced IT department. The challenge, however, is providing your employees with the ability to balance both their freedom and their responsibility. Its goal is to allow users more independence, and in turn, to decentralize business intelligence practices within your enterprise, allowing for more users to understand how it works and what benefits it provides.

Depending on the user’s responsibilities and daily tasks, what they will use self-service BI for can vary. For example, some users may only need to group data together to analyze it all at once, while others might need to collect information from both your local infrastructure and external sources. Meanwhile, business intelligence users that need lots of flexibility or functionality may often need to edit databases or reports to reflect new developments. Professional business analysts will need the most functionality out of their self-service BI solutions, including the ability to explore data, model existing statistics, and creating special environments for analyzing specific analytics.

Data Quality and Master Data Management
In terms of business intelligence, data quality has its roots in the most basic practice of data analysis: ensuring that the data collected is suitable for the task at hand. Therefore, the quality of the data will depend on how it is being used. However, data quality is also dependant on if there is missing data, if the data matches its express purpose, if the data is duplicated or not, how consistent the data is, how accurate it is represented, and how recent the data is. On the other hand, master data management has to do with the collection of information from all sorts of locations on your network, and compiling them in various locations for consistency across your infrastructure.

For example, organizations that take advantage of customer retention software, as well as other web-based services, will appreciate the solutions provided by business intelligence solutions, particularly because different data could be found in multiple locations across your enterprise’s infrastructure. The consistency provided will be much-appreciated. Furthermore, mergers and acquisitions are made much more effective through the use of master data management, and coordination between business partners and clients can go more smoothly.

Business intelligence can be a great way to take your business one step further into the future, but only if you’re willing to go the extra mile and ensure that it is implemented properly and with purpose. If your enterprise is considering business intelligence technology, reach out to IronEdge Group. Our team can provide more information about how we can make business intelligence work for you.