Businesses all over the world rely on business intelligence tools for a plethora of reasons, such as assessing customer behavior, transforming data into actionable information, improving sales through marketing intelligence, and several other activities that lead to business growth.
Business intelligence tools consist of software to discover data, create interactive reports, and analyze the market. This software collects, transforms, and presents data to help business owners and decision-makers drive business growth.
Business intelligence tools collect large chunks of both structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources, transform it, and help establish useful insights from the transformed data.
Critical Features of Business Intelligence Tools
Almost all business intelligence tools include these important features:
- Data mining tools
- Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL)
- Filtered searches
- Interactive, user-oriented dashboard
- Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)
- Online networking functions
- Report creation and management
Some business intelligence tools also handle Big Data, especially for large enterprises. Business analytics tools and data analytics tools are used interchangeably with business intelligence tools. However, business analytics tools typically comprise more sophisticated applications and techniques for statistics-based modeling and other advanced data analysis.
Why B2B Companies Should Use Business Intelligence Tools
Business intelligence tools help B2B organizations make better and quicker decisions, identify operational areas that can be improved, evaluate business trends, and gain an edge over competitors in the same industry.
Other benefits of business intelligence tools:
- Large-scale and real-time overview of internal business processes.
- Quick analysis and visualization of reports for a variety of datasets.
- Development of business-wide efficiencies for present and future business objectives.
- Better employee accuracy and productivity.
- Easy sharing of qualitative and quantitative data and information between different internal teams.
- Efficient and streamlined contribution to the planning and execution of processes.
B2B companies can leverage all the above-mentioned benefits at both the micro and macro level when correctly aligned with the business goals.
Conventionally, many B2B organizations use business intelligence tools to analyze and present historical data from several different systems stored in data warehouses, SQL databases, and other relational data banks. However, with the emergence of ad hoc reporting and self-service analytics, the use of business intelligence tools has increased over time.
Studies reveal that by 2021, conversational analytics and natural language processing (NLP) will increase business intelligence adoption from 32% to more than 50% among employees, especially in front offices.
Sample Data Flow of a Business Intelligence Tool
A business intelligence solution uses data collected from a data warehouse (a repository of analytical data that helps in better and quick decision making). The source data is gathered from multiple data sources via transformation and stored in a data warehouse.
Here’s what a typical data flow of a business intelligence tool looks like:
- Data is extracted from different data sources.
- The extracted data is standardized and referential integrity checks are performed.
- Data is thoroughly cleansed and data profiling checks are completed.
- All the data reaches the data warehouse and consistency between data sources is evaluated.
- Data is presented in the form of web-based or graphical user interface reports.
Types of Business Intelligence Tools
As highlighted in the previous section, business intelligence tools serve a wide range of use cases. Here’s a list of business intelligence tools that are widely used:
- Cloud business intelligence
- Embedded business intelligence
- Enterprise reporting
- Business intelligence dashboards
- Open-source business intelligence
- Self-service business intelligence
- Online analytical processing (OLAP)
- Real-time analysis
- Predictive analytics
Almost all these tools are data visualization tools that decision makers are using to present data in usable ways. Decision makers are using the following visualization techniques to present data using business intelligence tools:
- Key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Other data components
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