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Everything You Need to Know About Business Intelligence

Informative Stats: The Growth and Value of Business Intelligence

The first known usage of the term “business intelligence” was by Richard Millar Devens in 1865. It was not until 1989 when Gartner analyst Howard Dresner again brought the phrase “business intelligence” into common terminology. As business intelligence became a commonly known phrase in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, an abundance of new vendors joined the market. At that time, there were only basic functions of business intelligence - producing data and reports, organizing it, and visualizing it in a presentable way. Yet, there were two significant issues holding back the developing technology phase: time and complexity.

The beginning of the 21st century marked a distinct turning point for business intelligence as technologies developed to address issues of both complexity and speed. Cloud-based programs that expanded and simplified business intelligence platforms bolstered the reach of BI platforms.

Everything You Need to Know About Business Intelligence

The speed and flexibility of the mid-2000’s business intelligence platform have undergone extremely refining techniques. The new generation of business intelligence includes expanding self-service options, improved visualization, real-time dashboards, and automated reports, to name a few.

Today, business intelligence software is often designed for specific industries, e.g., healthcare, law enforcement, and even restaurants, using industry-specific tools and customization. These tools have significantly contributed to the ever-increasing adoption of business intelligence. Visualization tools have evolved to include the end-user and more platforms allow self-service access to explore and utilize data with little-to-no-training.

In this article, we’ll go over what options you have for BI solutions, adaptations to your needs, examples of how BI can benefit different industries, and more.

Informative Stats

As you can see, business intelligence has grown exponentially and its value cannot be underestimated in this data-driven world.

By The Numbers

Here is a roundup of statistics that show the growth, value, and predictions of business intelligence:

  1. Over 50% of business users and analysts will have access to self-service tools in 2017. (source)
  2. 42% of companies plan to utilize mobile business intelligence. (source)
  3. Companies using analytics are five (5) times more likely to make faster decisions. (source)
  4. Customer analytics (48%), operational analytics (21%), and fraud & compliance (21%) are the top three use cases for big data. (source)
  5. There will be a projected 1.5 million shortage of data professionals in the United States alone by the year 2018. (source)
  6. 95% of large organizations will hire a Chief Data Officer by 2019. (source)
  7. 85% of business leaders believe big data will change the way they do business. (source)
  8. 89% of business leaders believe big data will revolutionize business operations in the same way the Internet did. (source)
  9. By 2019, the business intelligence and analytic market will grow to $20 billion. (source)
  10. Wikibon projects the Big Data market will top $84B in 2026, attaining a 17% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for the forecast period 2011 to 2026. (source)

The above statistics prove that business intelligence is not just a mere advantage; it is a requirement for a business to stay competitive and remain viable in this increasingly data-driven world. ChristianSteven Software can help you determine the exact business intelligence software you need based on your organization and industry, and they will walk you through it every step of the way to leveraging the value of Business Intelligence.

The ROI of Business Intelligence

In this section, I will discuss:

  • Barriers to BI
  • BI Wins
  • Making Your ROI Case
  • BI Goals To Consider
  • Investment Costs Not To Miss Out
  • Where Do We Come In?

Your business has systems producing data. You need to get and analyze that data and report it to the right people at the right time so they can act on it. Maybe you also need to scale up your current BI, reduce costs and eliminate bottlenecks. You know your company needs to invest in the right Business Intelligence in order to comply, react and thrive in this ever-changing world. In this portion of the article, I will talk about why it's important to understand ROI of Business Intelligence for your organization.

Barriers to BI

Our experience tells us that many companies suffer from 3 fundamental issues in delivering cost-effective BI. Before you start making the case for your chosen solution, ensure you've considered these potential barriers......

Will It Handle Volume & Complexity?

Ensure your solution is scalable- to manage and automate possible thousands of different reports being delivered to any number of recipients in a huge variety of formats, protocols and schedules.

Is It Responsive & Always Learning?

Does it support self-service, ad-hoc and event-driven reports and will it flag up any failures (such as data errors, delivery failures, processing glitches)?

Will It Be Compliant?

Confirm it will comply with all relevant regulations and business standards.

BI Wins

We see dramatic changes at companies that choose an enterprise-wide reporting framework.

Top Results We See From Great BI:

  1. Increased sales
  2. Better and faster decision-making
  3. No more manual processing or distribution
  4. Staff cost reduction
  5. Better internal communications, site & company-wide
  6. Detect inefficiencies or new opportunities that had been invisible
  7. Enable new and better processes
  8. Quality improvement information

Making Your ROI Case

Who's Your Audience?

As you compile your case for investing in business intelligence, always keep in mind what your team will care most about. The requirements of your ROI analysis will vary depending on your company size, sophistication and culture.

What Drives Decision-making In Your Company?

Do you have a "show me the numbers" management team who make quick decisions based on quantifiable net gains within a fixed and sometimes arbitrary- time period (e.g., one year). Or will you be expected to present specialized rates of return, multiple payback periods, opportunity costs and the time value of money?

Assessing Value Over Money

It's not always about money. Sometimes ROI involves factors that are less tangible and harder to measure. Segmenting various aspects of the "return" in ROI is a useful exercise for separating the important factors from that which is valued less. Some organizations (or leaders) value all quadrants of this matrix. Others don't. You should allocate your effort proportionally.

Your company probably wants to automate more to do more, grow more and spend less without any of it costing too much. Be clear about the goals of your BI investment, and how progress will be measured.

11 BI Goals To Consider

Reduce/Avoid Labor Costs

How many people are working on centralized report distribution admin? How much time are end-users spending making and sending out reports? How many more people or labor hours would be required to scale the existing report management and distribution processes to required levels? Translate these answers into actual costs and then estimate the savings from automation.

Adoption Success

How do you ensure successful BI implementation, with quick and easy adoption by business users, and built-in "encouragement to use" to persuade users to get the most our of the investment?

New Capabilities

Does your company need an event- or threshold-driven reporting automation? If so, what actual benefits do you want to see across the enterprise, either in costs or other benefits? Will you be able to extend reporting services to people and organizations that want them, but couldn't have them previously? How would they benefit?

Reliable Delivery

The right reports to the right people in the right format at the right time. Do you have tangible costs associated with delayed or incorrect reports as a result of manual processes? What happens to decision-making without timely and accurate reports? What would the quantifiable benefit(s) be if these problems disappeared?

Process Enablement

Does report distribution need to be automatic to support new or evolving processes? If so, what would be the cost to the company of not implementing those processes?

Customer/Partner Satisfaction

What would additional or better reporting capabilities mean for customers, partners, and other external entities? More trust, loyalty, confidence? Personal or corporate satisfaction is clearly harder to measure in monetary terms but is still critical for maintaining and increasing revenue.

Legal Compliance

In certain business functions and in some industries, proper reporting is required to avoid penalties or sanctions. The cost of meeting those requirements may be prohibitive without a robust report distribution architecture.

Opportunities Revealed

More and better reporting underpins better business intelligence. Visibility into the efficiency of enterprise operations may reveal opportunities to close gaps or to increase revenue. This is difficult to quantify in advance because "you don't know what you don't know". Making the invisible visible could well be the innovation that future-boosts your business.

Security Protection

Have you addressed the cost of dealing with any hacking fallout? This could quickly outweigh any other benefits, so it needs some serious thought.

Extend Functionality

The cost of decommissioning existing software-and retraining users- should be considered. Ideally, your new software should build on (re-use) some, if not all, of your existing infrastructure.

Risky Business

Who will be your BI supplier? Smaller, newer companies in the market tend to be more innovating and flexible, but it's a risky choice- after all, no-one ever lost their job buying from IBM. Do you risk going cheap for a lower price or are you trusted to select an evidently high quality product with vastly more experienced service that's much easier to deal with?

Investment Costs Not To Miss Out

The investment side of the ROI equation goes beyond the software cost. Don't forget about:

  • Software licensing & support
  • Supporting infrastructure-local or cloud-based
  • Consulting & training (& possible travel)
  • Implementation plan
  • Testing
  • Definition of reporting maintenance processes
  • Information security policies and processes
  • Labor for initial implementation
  • Labor for ongoing maintenance
  • Measuring & reporting of the project itself
  • Change management

Where Do We Come In?

ChristianSteven Software doesn't reinvent the wheel, as there's a plethora of good business intelligence and reporting tools out there, such as Crystal Reports and Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services and we want our customers to preserve their existing investments in those. But they tend not to provide the unified Business Intelligence and process automation platform that enterprises need today.

What are the best BI solutions?

You most likely apply Business Intelligence (BI) in various processes, technologies, and applications used to present and support business information. This collection of data is then used to support both strategic and operational decisions. The BI systems used, show a variety of data that has been gathered to be used for predictions, visualizations and performance management. The goal is to create easy explanations out of complicated data that lead new opportunities for growth in the market. If you need help deciding which BI solution to use, we have narrowed down the choices for you.


The shift to a more digital world has changed the business world. So, the business intelligence solutions have evolved, too. One of the most well-known solutions is SAS. This company is based in the US and offers the insights that you need for your business. This solution offers the visual reports and analytics quickly so you can easily see your future business outcomes. The tools are offered in a range of fields including healthcare, education, banking and much more.

Microsoft Power BI

Another amazing business intelligence solution is the Microsoft Power BI. The goal of this solution is to focus on visualizing and seeing all of your data. Having a clear and understanding of your business using customizable charts, diagrams, and other reporting visuals. Microsoft Power BI shows how your business is doing with live data sources.


Birst is a cloud-based business intelligence solution that helps your business to show and store your data in warehouses and cloud marts. This software allows you to have reporting, analyzation, and dashboard tools at your disposal. Birst BI can be integrated with cloud apps like Salesforce and be applied to a range of industries. Enterprise Editions and Data Discovery are a part of the solution and it contains dashboards, mobile analytics, and ad-hoc analysis.

IBM Cognos

The last business intelligence tool is of course by the company IBM. The tool is called IBM Cognos and it integrates the company’s predictive analytics service SPSS to ensure a more informed business decisions. IBM uses the data collected to show the data in a way that is user-friendly and it reduces the analysis time by half.

Making a Final Decision

These were just a few of the many business intelligence solutions you can use for your company. Based on your needs, budget, and preferences the final decision is yours. This is a very important decision you will be making because the right software will be able to not only collect data, but forecast a potential business problem. Take your time and choose wisely.

How To Choose Enterprise BI Software

Different BI software provides different capabilities such as data mining, online analytical processing, reporting, and more. With so many options out there, it can be hard to find the best software. Here are some tips on how to find great enterprise BI software:

User Experience

A great way to find the best enterprise BI software is to find companies that run similarly to your own and find out what BI software systems work best for them. Finding a business that is similar to your own and asking what software they use and which ones they like can help save you time and money.

Easy to Use

When looking for BI software, you should keep in mind how easy it is to use. The best BI software should provide tools that are easy enough for anyone in your company to use. Some BI software requires a specific employee that is able to write code in order to use the software. Unless you are willing to hire a new employee that is a programming specialist then you should look into BI software systems that are easy to use. Not having to hire a specialist will save your company money in the long run.

Data Visualization

A great enterprise BI software should provide the clearest and easiest to read view of your data. Most BI software systems show data on a large table containing hordes of numbers. Large tables get the job done and provides you with the information that you need, but isn’t the best way to present your data. Some BI software now offers color coordinated graphs that make reading data more pleasing to the eyes and easier to read. Readability and the use of data visualization, not only make it easier for you to understand, but it also is easier for other people in your business such as executives and vendors to comprehend.

With so many different BI software systems available, it can be hard to know which system is the best for your company. Try asking other companies what system they have had the most success with. You can also make sure that the software is easy to use, and that the data is presented clearly. By following these steps, you can find great enterprise BI software for your company.

Various Ways To Utilize Business Intelligence Software

You can utilize business intelligence software for multiple purposes, such as measuring business goals, performing quantitative analysis, and data sharing.

What’s the Benefit of Using BI Software?

Information is Valuable

Quite often, business decisions are made on the spot, and to ensure that you’re making the right one, you need access to proper information. You can't merely look at information; instead, you need to look at it in the context of your organization and sometimes in comparison with your competition. Business intelligence software can help you accomplish these objectives and help you streamline your operations.

Improve Business Strategies

It is crucial that after you come up with a business strategy, you follow it up with measures to stay on track. BI can help you focus on your tasks and track progress. You can do so by establishing KPIs and metrics and track those using reports and dashboards. Business intelligence software can help you with designing and maintaining your dashboards and reports.

Minimizing Manual Tasks

Another benefit of using business intelligence software is that you can perform a lot of tasks using the software and therefore eliminate or reduce manual tasks. BI software can automate data collection and analysis, as well as the distribution of reports to your stakeholders and employees.

Streamline Various Divisions

When you utilize BI software properly, you can streamline several tasks throughout various divisions of your enterprise. You can remove redundancy around data usage, and these divisions can collaborate and help each other to improve operations. Besides, you can also save on money by using collaborative BI software and not have divisions duplicate work.

Adopt BI Solutions and Tailor Them To Your Needs

Business intelligence (BI) is no longer a privilege solely for large enterprises; instead, BI software has become more lightweight and accessible to corporations of all sizes and industries.

Mainly, BI involves an iterative approach where you can “slice and dice” your data to look for meaningful patterns. You can then optimize your business plan and gain a critical competitive advantage.

Improves Strategy

Business intelligence has become increasingly strategic to most organizations and can be used to improve any business process. When you utilize BI solutions, you have a lot of data that is gathered, sorted, and diagnosed to find patterns. You can use these patterns to make better decisions that can enable you to be more competitive. Business intelligence is no longer a tool only for IT guys; instead, anyone and everyone interested in mining data can use it to their benefit.

Takes Time and Effort

If it is your first time adopting BI solutions, be patient as it does take time and effort to get started. Becoming a data-driven small business isn’t easy. Most small or medium enterprises may not have been disciplined about data collection and analysis. However, after some dedicated effort, things will start to make sense, and you can see improvements in your overall operations.

Start Simple

If you have just begun using BI solutions, it is better to start simple. Complex records of data from various sources can be overwhelming to gather and process. You will have to sort the data and use BI techniques to interpret into insights for your business. Start with what you already have and gradually grow from there. For instance, you can focus on your marketing division first and later expand into finance and other areas.

Other Benefits

You can utilize BI solutions to understand your customers and their needs. Additionally, by using historical data, you can predict future demands and scale accordingly. You can also create dashboards to evaluate your metrics and KPIs and understand your business better. BI solutions are also very useful in the budgeting department so that you can keep an eye on your expenses and maintain a steady bottom line.

To get the full benefit of BI solutions, you must adopt the right BI techniques and tools and tailor them to your needs and advantages. Once you have a clear understanding of what you need, you can start taking your first steps in the world of business intelligence.

Challenges You Face When Implementing A New Business Intelligence Solution

When implementing a startup Business Intelligence system, you must think about a few possible challenges. There are tons of them that already face you as a business owner. However, you also have to think about the challenges you face with your implementation of the intelligent solution. The main concerns are quite basic, but they still can be the deciding factor between a solution right now or later. Here are some of the biggest challenges you face with your business intelligence research solution.

You Have to Train Employees to Use the System

Possibly the worst part about business intelligence is that many people don’t know what it is. To the majority of employees out there, the words mean nothing. When you try to explain it to them, you are met with blank stares for the most part. This prompts the needs for high-intensity training for all your workers on the new system. This need for training can be a major factor in deciding whether or not you should have a new startup BI system. Now, training isn’t needed to the extent that you may think. It won’t cost you too much to train your workers. However, it is still a hassle to do so. Training employees to use a BI solution that relies more on the visual presentation of data is far easier than other methods.

Implementation Costs Can Go Through the Roof

This is a huge challenge, especially if you own a small business. You have to spend a fair amount of money installing the new system. This includes splashing out a lot of capital to buy the software you need, as well as bringing in trained personnel to install and train your employees on using it. The cost of maintaining this system will also be pretty high, as you will need a special IT department to take care of it. Thankfully, there are new BI solutions out there that take away the need for special employees and huge deployment costs. These solutions, called self-service business intelligence, are far more scalable and can be adapted to the needs of a business of any size.

A Large Time Investment is Needed

As far as your thoughts go, this might be a big problem. After all, you need to deploy hardware that is compatible with what’s already in your office. You also need to customize the software for your business in-house. Time is also spent training your employees. Overall, the whole process could take a few months, which is valuable time you cannot afford to lose. The truth is, you won’t lose any of this time with the BI solutions that are present in the world today. Technology has advanced quite a bit since the days of clunky hardware needed for BI. You can watch as your Business Intelligence solution goes up in the span of a week or less.

Getting Good Quality Data is Hard

This challenge faces you after you have implemented the new system. If you want your company to benefit from the effects of good business intelligence, you need data. The data provided by the system has to be of the highest quality. It must measure exactly what you want it to and present this in the form of reports and graphs to you. Getting a BI solution that provides you with top-tier data is harder than you may think, and you must spend a lot of time figuring out which is the best company for you.

BI is a complicated creature indeed, and they need a lot of attention. This can lead to you facing challenges like time constraints, money issues, and a lack of training in your workers. Many of these can be solved easily if you work with the right modern business intelligence provider.

BI and Social Media Analytics: How They Can Improve Your Company

A combination of BI and social media analytics and social media analytics provides businesses with remarkably functional information such as search habits, customer demographics, and social behavior. This information is extremely useful for expanding revenue opportunities, driving marketing efforts, promoting brand awareness, and generating leads.

Social media plays a chief role in the way top businesses are utilizing the power of Business Intelligence tools to positively impact their customers. Although you can gain very important information about your customers from social media, it is practically indecipherable analytically without BI.

Incisive Analytics and Intelligence

BI technologies possess the ability to collate, scrutinize, and report on data. This data comes from blogs, discussion boards, forums, and social media. This data produces insightful information such as:

  • Is there a single post that has more likes than others?
  • Who is talking about my business?
  • How often are they talking about my business?
  • What aspects of my business are they talking about?
  • What are follower’s voicing their opinions about?
  • What comments are getting the most likes?

The answers to these questions about your business via social analytics can help you establish the critical steps of your next marketing strategy. With business intelligence gauging social media analytics, you get in-depth reporting in real time. This is invaluable to a business in the world of social media.

Data at Your Fingertips

The marketing staff does not want, nor should they have, the responsibility of building a new BI dashboard to track the performance of the business’s Twitter feed and compare it to the Facebook likes, shares, and comments and the company’s YouTube channel. Marketers want a real-time dashboard that yields traditional data views.

The main social media platforms have accessible APIs; therefore, plugging into your BI tool is simple. With this method, marketers can have all their social channel performance in one place and accessible with one finger.

Making BI and Social Media Work for You

If your company is considering investing in BI for social media marketing, choose a business intelligence solution that is flexible, easy to use, and expandable. Also, verify that it is able to quickly analyze external web-based data sources.

BI makes it possible for businesses to create their advertisements and marketing campaigns around a targeted audience by the behavioral patterns on social media. This type of intelligence is immeasurable in the business world. ChristianSteven Software provides all of the analytical tools and software you need to gauge your social media traffic and engagements and make them profitable for your business.

What Is The Difference Between Managed Enterprise BI and Self-Service BI?

If you think that self-service business intelligence tools are here to replace the enterprise business intelligence tools, then you are wrong. These new self-service tools do not replace, but rather supplement, enterprise BI tools. The fact is that managed enterprise BI and self-service tools exist for different reasons. Depending on your organization’s needs, you may want to invest in one or the other or, in some cases, both these tools.

Managed Enterprise BI

Managed enterprise business intelligence consists of the legacy enterprise BI platforms. They are typically sold by the prominent vendors who also sell a number of other enterprise software. These platforms offer components for every stage of a business intelligence project comprised of data modeling, governance, security, and delivery.

These tools can be costly to invest in but come with cool features that may be suited for your organization. For instance, they can integrate with other tools that you already use. Managed enterprise tools also support a wide range of data sources and high data volumes. Additionally, these tools will support multiple report formats, such as Excel, PDF, and HTML.

Self-Service BI

As the name suggests, self-service business intelligence tools are meant to be more hands-on and intuitive, and younger, fast-growing companies typically offer them. If you are a small-scale organization and are going to stay at this scale for the near future, you may want to invest in these tools. Keep in mind that these tools will not be able to support a considerable growth in your enterprise. However, on a smaller scale, these tools can provide data visualization, data discovery, and exploration features. Moreover, you can create and share BI reports quite easily using self-service tools.

Which BI Tool is Right for You?

The answer depends on your company's needs. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. In addition to the difference between these types of tools, individual vendors may offer different features, and you may choose one over the other based on your business needs. You need to do a careful analysis of all your use cases before honing in on the type of BI tools you want to invest in.

No matter which of these tools you adopt, business intelligence solutions can help you streamline your business operations quite effectively. By analyzing all the data at your disposal, you can improve your processes, increase sales, and control your budget to improve your bottom line.

Recent developments in Business Intelligence

Business intelligence is the fastest growing industry in the technology world. As technology developers shift their designs in 2018, you are about to embark on completely new features, not just improvements to last year's models. Technology developers will look to harness big data, create new analytical methods, and develop new data types and applications. As we advance into the second half of the year, recent developments in business intelligence prove to be in sync with beginning of the year predictions. And, these advances continue to improve the way we do business around the world throughout all different industries.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics involves extracting information from existing data sets to forecast future probabilities. While data mining only considers past data, predictive analytics serves as an extension of data mining. Through predictive analytics, we visualize what might happen in developments. This allows your business to better understand customers, products, and partners. With an acceptable level of reliability and a consideration of alternate scenarios, predictive analytics is a form of business intelligence that assesses your risks and opportunities for future business improvement.

The most recent developments in predictive analytics involve artificial intelligence. Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average, also known as ARIMA, is a recently developed model that is used for time series analysis. Through ARIMA, past data is applied to existing data to make predictions for the future. This type of business intelligence offers your business great insight into data series behavior, predicts new anomalies, and helps discover underlying patterns that aren't visible to the naked eye. ARIMA is a very powerful tool that delivers top business executives predictive analysis for better decision making.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is the science of aiming to make machines execute work that is done by human beings. Although it has long been a topic of controversy, recent developments in AI are fundamentally changing the way many industries function in their daily operations. Artificial intelligence has made great strides through expansion into analytics, intelligence gathering, and visualization. The focus of 2017 AI has shifted to big data. Artificial Intelligence can now provide valuable insight into large quantities of documents to deliver more effective decision-making solutions.

The most recent advancements in artificial intelligence have taken the process of creating spreadsheets for data delivery and moving to real time dashboards. You know what's happening when it's happening through real-time data analysis tools that analyze historical trends and patterns. Based on data analysis, alerts are sent out to give you a real-time view of what's happening in your business. Real-time dashboards allow businesses to understand data, make plausible predictions, and even set up machines to operate on their own.

Cloud Analytics

Cloud computing services deliver on demand IT for everything. Since business intelligence strategy is now extremely customized to serve your business' needs, entrepreneurs have learned to embrace the power of cloud analytics. Data sources, data models, processing applications, computing power, analytic models, and data storage are now located in one cloud. With real-time access to customer relationship management data, you will increase your efficiency and transparency. Cloud analytics drive speed and effectiveness to new levels through integrated marketing automation and communication. Business intelligence will improve leads and advance the way you maintain your existing customers through more advanced cloud analytics.

The recent developments in business intelligence continue to improve the way you do business. In the first half of 2018, business intelligence has taken major steps to further efficiency and speed. These developments will open opportunities for new views into the way your business works. New technology will create an intuitive and cost-effective way to improve operations, and business making decisions, as we embark on the ever-evolving future of business intelligence.


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