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Author: Silvia Bressan

Business Intelligence Is About More Than Just Reporting

Solving business problems using insight is nothing new. Data shapes the way we see the world and using it to make effective and efficient business decisions is only logical.

However, many people are still under the misguided perception that business intelligence is just a fancy way of talking about analytics reporting.

Business intelligence and business analytics professionals have been arguing their case now for a long time. While some people still associate them only with numbers and spreadsheets – at the end of the day, they need to be able to turn information into something actionable.

That said, we’ve got nothing against the powerful spreadsheet.

It’s about creating good processes

No matter how pretty your dashboard of data looks, it’s meaningless if it’s not actionable. One of the most important facets of business intelligence is creating meaningful, actionable insights for businesses to use.

Some common uses for business intelligence include accelerating and improving business decision making, increasing efficiency and optimizing internal processes. By including business intelligence as part of a company’s internal processes, decisions are better informed. More than just reporting on how productive teams are or where cash flow is coming from, it’s about understanding how a business is run and providing actionable insights on how to run it better.

It’s about driving new opportunities

Business intelligence data comes in all forms. It can be real-time or historical. Ultimately, it’s there to answer any questions your team may have to drive a business forwards. This could include identifying new revenue streams, identifying market trends as they happen, or using past insights to decide the best way to move forward.

Talented business information professionals recognize the vast amounts of data they possess as having untold potential. By understanding business goals, they’re able to make clever, informed and innovative decisions for the future.

It’s about solving problems

One way to look at business intelligence is the nervous system of an organization. It senses everything and reports back. By delving deep into the insights provided by business intelligence data, it’s possible to spot business problems that need to be addressed quickly. Plus, business intelligence can even provide the intelligent insights necessarily to create an action plan for addressing any problems – current or future.

In today’s world, we always should always plan ahead. Business intelligence gives us the insights we need to both predict the future, and plan for it. Whether that’s managing the impacts of tomorrow’s weather, overseas markets, climate change or seasonal trends.

It’s about better communication

One of the most important components of business intelligence is being able to communicate findings in a way that’s effective and actionable. Business intelligence programs have been designed to clearly communicate data in a way that’s meaningful to people – not just a spreadsheet of numbers.

Yes, reporting is an important part of business intelligence. But it’s not all cut and dried. Business intelligence helps provide actionable and agile solutions to business problems. That requires collecting and interpreting a lot of information – more than most people know what to do with. That’s why finding clever, innovative and accessible ways of communicating the right information at the right time is so integral to business intelligence.

It’s about good ethics

Paying attention to ethics is good business especially in the era of the social enterprise and conscientious consumer. Not only can business intelligence provide insights for unexplored ethical avenues, but it also helps businesses find proactive ways to improve their conduct as an organization. This could be anything from improving supply chain and logistics management to finding new and improved processes for managing human resources.

Plus, in today’s rapidly growing and changing world, business intelligence is at the forefront of modern ethics exploration. Some current ethical concerns facing business intelligence specialists include data security, integrity, and privacy. Business intelligence analytics even has the potential to detect negligence and fraud. It’s an exciting new frontier for modern ethics exploration and something to keep your eye on.

It’s about people

When push comes to shove, people are what matter. Business intelligence can give you insights into how to better manage your team and provide a better, more stable working environment. From reducing employee churn to making employees’ lives easier and more productive, data should ultimately be used to benefit the people. People are the most valuable resources most businesses have and knowing how to treat them better is crucial.

Change. It’s terrifying. It’s disrupting. And, unfortunately, it’s inevitable.

Managing change is rarely a smooth process. However, to effectively lead a business – or a team – to success, managing change in the workplace must be in your toolkit.

Businesses are constantly growing, evolving and innovating. In today’s market, change is a constant work-in-progress. To stay afloat, we need to do more than adapt to it, but also manage it and lead it. It’s no wonder that leaders who understand and can manage change are so highly sought after.

While managing organisational change is never quite as simple as it sounds, there are some strategies you can implement to make the transition smoother. It’s not as easy as being given a formula to use time and time again, but with the right processes, skills and tools at your disposal, change doesn’t have to be so world-shaking.

Start driving change and growth

The best strategy is almost never reactionary. By actively embracing change and seeking new opportunities for innovation, change and growth, you can be prepared when it comes to rolling out change initiatives in your organisation.

When trying to effectively lead change, you’ll need to clearly answer three common questions employees have about new change initiatives:

  • What is the change?
  • Why is the change happening?
  • How will the change affect me?

It sounds simple, but too many managers focus on the ‘what’, rather than answering their team’s legitimate concerns and questions around how and why the change is being made. When talking about why the change is happening – and how it will affect your people – try to be transparent. If it has downsides, offer a clear timeframe for these changes taking place and reiterate the long-term positives.

Establish meaningful communication with your teams

The best way to ensure that everyone is on the same page (or help everyone get there) is to facilitate clear, open communication. Meaningful communication is essential to the success of any transition period, and will help you in a few ways. For starters, it helps you understand your team and gain insight into what motivates them personally. These insights can help you predict any barriers your team might have towards accepting change and help you overcome them.

You need to know how change affects your employees personally and be aware of the politics and psychology that informs their reactions to change. By openly explaining the transition process to your team (through the why, what and how mentioned previously) and understanding their reactions, you can respond to your team appropriately.

Some teams are more resistant to change than others. Understanding why is the first step towards being able to effectively lead them down the path towards a smoother, easier transition.

Motivate your people effectively

People often come into change with the attitude ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Your role is to make them understand – in their own terms – why this isn’t the case. The benefits of change need to outweigh the pain it will cause. By opening communication with your team, you should have a good idea of what their concerns are. Addressing these early, and demonstrating how the change is of mutual benefit can help everyone get on the same page.

Never attack your team or tell them that they’re wrong. Your team comprises smart, intelligent people. Just because they’re not with you yet, doesn’t mean they won’t be. By providing your team with personal and professional wins (i.e. outlining how the change will make their lives easier both at work and in day-to-day life), they’ll feel as though the change is in their favour. Benefits can help bring them onside to work with you and make the most out of the transition.

Showing how the change will eliminate a known pain-point can have a similar impact. It’s about finding and articulating mutual goals, not persuading them that they’re wrong for being cautious.

Ultimately, change is unpredictable. There will always be some resistance to change (and always has been), and your role is to make the process as stress-free for your team as possible. Gaining a detailed understanding of the psychology of change in business – how your team ticks and what motivates them – is just the beginning.