Modern business is a highly competitive realm. Trying to outsell their rivals, companies sweat their soul out to satisfy customers and keep them loyal for as long as possible. To do that, business owners must know their customers inside out as well as have a clear-cut vision of the entire scope of their organization’s workflow—objectives that can be met by leveraging high-tech tools that provide business intelligence (BI).
As a system of measures that aims to process relevant business data in a wide gamut of industries, BI is an umbrella term that embraces various aspects of data handling. While the collection and storing of dossiers are the preliminary and auxiliary stages of this complex process, business intelligence reporting is viewed as the mission-critical element in the BI lifecycle.
What is BI reporting? Or, to be more accurate, what is reporting in business intelligence? It is defined as a procedure of preparing and analyzing business data with the help of specialized BI tools and dashboards. After analytics are presented to decision-makers, they can use them as insights to act in the direction of boosting the performance of their organization.
Alongside this major goal, BI reporting pursues a related aim to create a single version of the truth via eliminating data silos. With 24/7 access to the unified database, employees are sure to produce more accurate analytics and avoid wasting time for the harmonization of their efforts with the personnel of other departments.
How does BI reporting work? Business intelligence reporting tools collect data from all available sources—both cloud-based and on-premise. These solutions are honed to detect various measurements (for instance, inventory counts, sales, etc.) and analyze them by applying a wide range of dimensions, including date, client info, and purchase order, to mention a few. Users of business intelligence reporting software leverage its capabilities to create reports in a plethora of formats (such as tables, charts, histograms, etc.).
Depending on the professional background of the personnel working with reporting and business intelligence,this routine is divided into two types.
Let’s have a look at the most popular examples of BI reporting of either type.
Reporting and business intelligence can be performed via the methods outlined below.
Various charts, maps, and graphs enabled by BI tools visualize numbers and trends, making their comprehension and analysis easier for stakeholders. Users can also customize the reporting capabilities by creating their own dashboards.
Business intelligence reporting solutions are a second-to-none instrument for building static reports in any convenient digital format (tables, spreadsheets, PDF docs, etc.) and setting up data-driven alerts that can be triggered once some KPI exceeds or drops below the defined threshold.
Such functionality is enabled in case the BI reporting tool you employ harnesses artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and other state-of-the-art technologies that enhance the capacity of the solution manifold.
Given the ubiquity of smartphones and the amount of remote work performed by employees, collaborating and sharing insights with colleagues wherever you and they are is pivotal for the successful functioning of any enterprise in the 21st century.
The age of standalone business solutions is irrevocably drawing to its close. Modern software (including business intelligence reporting tools) is getting increasingly integrated when multiple apps, portals, and platforms are accessed from a single endpoint and can exchange data with each other to maximize their efficiency.
When all these functionalities are combined, they can yield a plethora of benefits to users.
The adoption of BI reporting tools and techniques brings the following boons to organizations.
What makes business intelligence reporting software especially attractive is its ability to suit any industry or department within an organization. Customizing a BI reporting solution, you can leverage it in sales, financial, logistics, marketing, or any other department, as well as for data analytics related to retail, banking, transport, or any other realm.
No more wasting precious time (and time is money—especially in business) on tedious waiting for BI feedback from the IT team. And this waiting can be quite lengthy if they have to pull in and process data from several sources. Instead, the centralization of data achieved in business intelligence reporting and the analytic opportunities made available for non-tech users benefit all routine pipeline procedures immensely.
Modern technologies furnish heaps of data related to all possible facets of the company’s operation. Which of them are of real value, and which are just distractions that confuse your understanding of core processes? BI tools, with their data filtration and curation algorithms, enable singling out the relevant metrics and telling a story with this vital business information without redundant data muddling your judgment.
Modern reporting tools allow the employment of the two categories of dossiers—those that relate to the past activities of an organization and those that show KPIs here and now. Thus, personnel working with both types can build an efficient data pipeline to trace the performance of the enterprise throughout the chosen time and observe symptomatic trends as well as monitor real-time indices on the same dashboard.
BI reporting is a godsend for managers and CEOs. Promptly having all essential analytics at their fingertips, top executives can take immediate data-driven steps that improve the current functioning of the organization. Moreover, they can shape their marketing policy, plan campaigns, calculate budgets, set major performance milestones, or contemplate any other strategic moves for weeks and months to come.
Business intelligence reporting is not only about tracking what was and is. Its predictive analytics power allows users to capture glimpses of what will be and understand the essence of the future trends that are likely to dominate in the niche.
However hard you might try to make your internal workflow more efficient, it will do your company no good if you forget about your customers. Since the ultimate goal of any business is to oblige the client and guarantee a satisfying UX, business owners go to great lengths to know their customers inside and out. BI reporting applied in the customer service domain can provide a 360-view of consumers of a certain product or service, including their demographics, location, emotional needs, purchasing preferences, and shopping behavior.
The foundation of a successful business is the uninterrupted supply of products or raw materials. In case supply chain stalls, the whole system languishes and is eventually brought to a standstill. With the help of BI reporting dashboards, you can closely monitor the three basic procurement KPIs (number of suppliers, compliance rate, and purchase order cycle time) and see where the shoe pinches. Once you spot the bottleneck, you can act immediately to improve supplier relationships and ensure a high turnover of goods.
A company is as efficient as its staff is. Knowing this simple truth, you can direct business intelligence reporting not outwards but inwards and assess the performance of your human resources. Tracking attendance rates, individual productivity, overtime hours, and other talent-related KPIs, you will be able to identify problem areas and individuals to direct your efforts there. You can also develop a personalized approach to your employees and introduce incentives that will be the best fit in each particular case.
This is a corollary of all the previous assets. If, thanks to the employment of BI reporting, an organization functions smoothly and efficiently, it is sure to report positively upon the reduction of expenditures and the increase of profits.
To make the most of the advantages of business intelligence reporting software, you should know how to use it effectively.
As a seasoned IT company with numerous successful projects under our belt, NIX United knows what to pay primary attention to while onboarding BI reporting know-how.
The first question you should ask yourself is, “Who will use the reports?” By envisioning the audience with its needs and technical competence, you will be able to select report forms and content they find useful, convenient, and digestible.
You shouldn’t overwhelm your audience with a slew of various indices and numbers. If you do, they would just waste their time trying to come to grips with irrelevant information and miss the vital parts. That is why you should pick the indices that reflect the core goals of the people who would employ them.
Raw facts and numbers are hard to interpret. That is why you should combine them into standardized formats, giving preference to visualizations. Text chunks and tables are slower to process, so go for charts, histograms, and other means to showcase your data. In this way, you will let the data tell an illustrated story.
With a considerable number of access points and users, even the most accurate and orderly data may become distorted over time. That is why it is crucial to equip BI reporting solutions with intelligent data alerts that will issue a notification in case the data is changed so that you could remedy the situation.
Multiple users of software present one more problem, and that is vulnerability. If mishandled or tampered with, the system may be breached, which will lead to the compromise of the data it contains. If this happens, cybercriminals will make use of it to inflict financial or reputational damage on the organization and its personnel. To avoid such emergencies, stringent security measures must be implemented as early as the software development stage.
The best BI reports not only present a comprehensive picture of a certain aspect of a company’s operation. They are also logically organized so that reading and understanding them is a cakewalk. To create such reports, you should have a consistent color scheme and graphic format of related visualizations, separate them with blank space, utilize intuitive functionality pieces (filters, drop-down boxes, etc.) to the utmost, and try not to cram tons of information in one report.
Even the most advanced BI reporting tools may fall short of their purpose if they are handled improperly. And it is not only about training your personnel to use them. Employees should be eager to employ them, which is achieved through creating and supporting a data-driven culture in your organization and involving all of them in utilizing this know-how in the maximum number of use cases.
The robust progress of digital technologies makes constant learning a must. Only by keeping abreast of the latest achievements in the domain you will get a competitive edge over your rivals.
The choice of an appropriate BI reporting solution is imperative for the successful implementation of this technology into the everyday practices of your organization.
If you opt for a boxed solution, make sure it can be integrated into your existing IT environment and plays well with the data infrastructure you have. Plus, it should be flexible enough to be scaled when you need it and can be customized to fit your business requirements.
However, off-the-shelf software is unlikely to meet all your expectations. Our competent team at NIX United has the necessary skills and experience to build a bespoke business intelligence reporting solution that would tick all boxes for the customized functionality roster and seamless performance at an affordable price.
BI reporting is an essential element of business intelligence onboarded by forward-looking companies in different industries. When applied properly, such tools can streamline the pipeline activities of your organization, facilitate business data processing, and optimize the decision-making mechanism, thus increasing the overall efficiency of your business.
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