When the term “business intelligence” was first coined in 1865, the very concept of using data to inform business best practices was a novel one. The world we see today, highly integrated and global, is much different than this pre-industrial world. While business intelligence has always been a good idea, today it is absolutely essential.
Using business intelligence correctly won’t just transform the way you compete in an oversaturated market, it can help you to transform the way your employees work.
What is Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence, rendered in the shorthand as BI, is the process of transforming data into information and using that information to increase the competitiveness of an enterprise. Businesses source the data used in BI from a combination of data mining, business analytics, metadata, and data visualization tools.
The most successful leaders of today use BI to maximize great leadership, both in themselves and amongst their team.
How Major Firms Use Business Intelligence
One of the most important ways that businesses use BI today is to improve customer experience. Knowing your market and customers is essential with startups. Even the world’s largest companies understand the value of continually adapting to the customer’s needs. See Jeff Bezos’ often-repeated “customer obsession” alongside the continued dominance of Amazon.
Charles Schwab represents an organization that has invested plenty of time, effort, and human resources into expanding its BI front. In 2017, for example, Neesha Hathi became the company’s first CDO (Chief Digital Officer), whose responsibilities include overhauling the digital customer experience, primarily using AI.
Using BI, Charles Schwab is able to get a visual overview of all their clients and branches over the entire country. Using this data, he can predict which clients need to change their investment situation or monitor specific branches that report problematic end-quarter numbers.
Amazon is constantly using BI to improve the customer experience based on perceived need and cutting down on delivery times.
Using Business Intelligence To Create A Powerhouse Team
Today, with all the examples of BI improving companies’ competitive edge, there is always learning to be done.
Looking at the current major players across industries (healthcare, education, financial services, and more) we can bear witness to common themes that can help you improve the integration of your team with the product you offer.
In some ways, an article about using business intelligence is a fugue on the same theme: developing customer relations. Even in 1865, business intelligence was about improving the customer experience of your business.
Charles Schwab, as we mentioned earlier, has made significant headway in the past few years in terms of customer relations. They have used the global view of their massive business intelligence wing to empower their teams across their branches.
One way that Charles Schwab has empowered the organization’s team with BI is by focusing on potential investors. Using data mining and analytics, Charles Schwab is able to anticipate the changing investment needs of their clients (based on age, income, and so forth). This ability of anticipation, founded in hard data, lends regional managers and their teams not just knowing their clients, but really understanding them.
Backed by data, teams can be more confident about the kinds of services they offer to clients and about how those services might be of use.
BI, for all that it helps a business, can also mire a team in overwhelming mountains of data. Used correctly, business intelligence can help your team increase action.
For example, when running an analysis it’s always important to ask the question, “how will this data help my company/team improve?” By developing an analysis in the core mission and values of the team, analysis can help affirm the need for action (and prevent unnecessary action).
Data is black and white. People are a little more gray. Especially in an industry that is very people-oriented, the day-to-day of dealing with angry people or frustrated users can be overwhelming, especially for novice teams. Using data-driven analysis, teams can begin to feel that they understand people in a way they didn’t before.
There’s a common sentiment amongst those who think about customer relations: give them what they need, not what they want. Faced by hundreds of competing ideas from the customer side and complaints from squeaky wheels, teams can feel caught between a wall and a hard place.
Data, in this respect, can be the guiding light. As the name of the Amazon Sellers podcast reminds us, Follow The Data, and there you’ll find the people.
Business Intelligence is a fundamental way that companies today can interact with their customer base and increase their competitiveness. Using best BI practices, you can empower your team to follow the data and make better, more confident decisions that really make a difference in customers’ lives.