Helping companies of all sizes to turn data into insights is the ultimate goal of business intelligence and modern data analyst tools that, in recent years, became a critical necessity and completely eliminated guesswork. Achieving the full potential that databases have on offer, increasing performance and improving business processes through effective BI solutions is not only done by large enterprises, but mid-size and small businesses alike. Each professional in our cutthroat digital age has the responsibility to perform the best possible data management for his/her area, and by taking advantage of modern business intelligence solutions organisations will not only have a complete overview of their data, but have easy access to various touchpoints needed for successful operational and strategic activities.
We will start this article by explaining what are BI solutions, continue with the most prominent benefits that enable businesses to solve their problems, describe and present business intelligence solutions examples by industry and business function (departments) that you can apply in your own organisation, no matter if it’s retail, healthcare, IT, sales, marketing, logistics, etc. Finally, we will conclude and round up our findings to enable you to build your own solution and upscale your company.
Business intelligence (BI) solutions are designed to help executives, data analysts, team leaders, managers and professionals to collect, analyse, visualise and report on various functions within a company and apply those findings to their respective industries.
These solutions enable users to perform self-service analysis without the need for profound technical knowledge. Beside an intuitive drag and drop interface many tools have advanced features and analysis options such as a SQL mode or calculated fields to fulfil the needs of more advanced users, too. Industry, function or platform aside, business intelligence technology solutions save numerous hours, relieve leaders and professionals from tedious and repetitive tasks of exporting numerous spreadsheets that have the data locked in history. But let’s see these benefits in more detail.
Every business has the same goal: turn data into actionable insights and outperform established metrics. By doing so, every organisation has a solid foundation to ensure sustainable development and generate more revenue while saving precious time. Here are the most prominent benefits that will help you solve any business question you might have:
Implementation in any department or industry: A business executive or manager might need access to data across the company, including marketing and sales, that will help him/her to make a better, more informed decision. The possibility that a business intelligence solution has on offer focuses on implementation in any industry, any function, and any data source your company might have or need. That means that a comprehensive overview can be obtained by simply implementing one of the best BI tools for your concrete business case. It’s essential to mention that nowadays there are BI solutions on the market that every department can benefit from, no matter if you’re part of marketing, sales, market research, customer support, etc. In the process of finding the right BI software, the requirements of all departments should be checked to make sure that, at the end, all different departmental needs are met and that your company doesn’t need additional BI and/or analytics solutions. That way, you can save additional costs and comfortably choose a business intelligence solutions provider that will satisfy all your business requirements. For example, it is often the case that departments work separately and have no touchpoints with each other nor properly developed communication systems that will enable them to comprehend a business story in more detail. The IT department might not know what happens in marketing, and business managers might need to request numerous reports from various stakeholders to be able to develop their own views and recommendations. The financial department needs a birds-eye view of every cost a company has, but looking for the right information at the right time or constant double-checking the costs and relevant metrics, updating data and sending thorough reports might seem like a business nightmare. Often enough, these situations can cause a slowdown in business processes and a company can suffer immensely. That’s why checking and choosing the best possible solution should be high on your list to avoid future costs increment or potential bottlenecks. Later in the article, we will illustrate real-world examples for different industries and functions so you can get an idea of what kind of result you can obtain with modern and professional BI software.
Designed for both data analysts and average business users: Modern self-service BI tools provide options tailored for average business users, data analysts, or advanced data scientists. They need to capture different business modes that will enable each employee, no matter the background, to be able to fully comprehend and create a data story, oftentimes visualised in a striking online dashboard. Understanding what a data scientist does or connecting an analyst with a business manager can only bring positive results because each employee can consolidate their data into one point through software and access any information they might need to be able to perform their tasks more effectively. That said, business intelligence brings smart and innovative answers to various teams, increasing the cross-functionality of data and enabling a smooth user experience for the best data management processes and business results. By simply connecting the data source you need, you can easily analyse your information with the help of a seamless user interface or switch to advanced SQL mode. As mentioned, by simply using a smooth drag-and-drop UI, every average user can perform deep analysis and share their findings with relevant colleagues or stakeholders. That way, access to data is possible for everyone, keeping the final result in the form of a dashboard and/or report – simple, yet effective.
Includes artificial intelligence and predictive analytics: As we all know it, managing large volumes of data on a daily basis has become a big challenge. The goal of a smart BI solution is to automate and quickly perform analysis of enormous datasets that will empower users to focus on what truly matters: actionable insights. That means that traditional means of collecting and analysing data such as spreadsheets no longer bring added value, but challenge organisations in their time management and costs allocation, often much higher than planned. Modern software backed up with artificial intelligence such as intelligent alarms will ensure users receive a notification each time a business anomaly occurs. To save even more time, such solutions have implemented predictive analytics, a highly sophisticated element for predicting the future of a company and provide a roadmap to where the data will be and how the data will behave. There is no time for intense manual calculations in our digital age. There is simply too much complex data to analyse and, consequently, companies must turn to modern business intelligence system solutions that have AI and predictive analytics on offer. The opportunity to know the future and prepare for it should be one of the key elements in the decision-making process.
Provides real-time monitoring and access to data, anywhere, anytime: Turning to BI means many standard, tedious processes such as exporting numerous spreadsheets can be automated through creating powerful dashboards accompanied by a number of interactive charts that you can adjust and incorporate with just a few clicks. These dashboards provide access to real-time data, refresh automatically and have interactivity in nature to enable users to simply click on a part of the dashboard, and explore the data further. This is possible thanks to numerous features that enable real-time monitoring and evaluation such as drill-downs, chart filters, time intervals, tooltips, etc. The time to wait for a report from the IT department is cut down into a few clicks within the software interface. No one needs to wait to see the performance of their company or department anymore and no one needs to perform analysis with historical data only. This benefit seamlessly decreases the time that companies spend on creating and generating reports but, most importantly, it enables access to information whenever it’s needed. As a result, no matter if you’re sitting on a meeting, traveling or just checking your mobile – the data will be there, instantly. Finally, these benefits are a solid foundation for you to understand what are business intelligence solutions bringing to the table and how companies can profit from investing into the software to take care of large volumes of manual tasks that slow down any operation, no matter the industry or department. In our next part of the article, we will focus on business intelligence by industry and functions, and look into more detail into examples of each.
The best part of business intelligence is the possibility to apply these solutions in any industry or business function. No matter if you’re part of sales, marketing, procurement or human resources, each department must perform well in order to generate business value in the long run. To inspire you in the process of looking for the perfect solution, we have gathered some of the most prominent functions a company employs and will present you real world BI dashboard examples.
Today, human resources are one of the most principal functions of an organisation. The number of applications, workforce management, recruitment processes, and the analysis of staff has risen to the point where manual screening and optimising processes is no longer possible. Keeping the ‘human’ aspect of a company healthy and productive while welcoming the best candidates for the advertised position are crucial elements of success. Business intelligence can upscale all of these processes with advance analytics and visualisations that will enable each member of the team to see a clear overview of the state of human resources. That’s why an HR dashboard is usually a good solution to all the business requirements related to human resources:
Our dashboard above is focused on employee performance over a set period of time. As we all know it, employees are the beating heart of any business and if they don’t function properly, there is something deeply wrong on a management level. Metrics such as absenteeism, overall labour effectiveness categorised additionally by the department, and structured in a time frame of 5 years can clearly let you know how your employees are performing and if they’re satisfied at their workplace. If any of the metrics raises concerns, it is time to focus on people management and schedule some meetings.
A department found in most companies, procurement has a specific set of best practices to follow in order to become and stay successful. Management of suppliers and the whole procurement cycle can easily be automated, predicted and monitored with the help of a modern procurement dashboard empowered with intelligent features that every procurement department needs:
To be able to play in our competitive business environment, companies must deliver the best possible strategies in fulfilling the needs of an organisation and related contractors. Allowing BI to unify and reinforce data and management will ensure stable development and, ultimately, reduce precious costs. When you take a closer look at the dashboard above, you can clearly see the structure of suppliers and how it affects the procurement function. Tracking relevant metrics such as the compliance rate, the number of suppliers and the purchase order cycle time, among others, will benefit each employee looking to perform in the best way possible. This kind of an overview, accompanied by real-time data, structured in clear visuals and interactivity that no static spreadsheet can offer, will have a positive impact on the performance, future negotiations, and strategies.
No company can get by in today’s market without a sales department that is often full of intricate processes and ever-changing strategies, whether short-term or longer. Tuning sales operations, CRM management, prospects, and performance monitoring into a single overview can be a tough challenge even for experienced professionals. Often enough, data is scattered through various systems and the only way to connect them is through traditional spreadsheets. Modern times require modern solutions, and BI steps into this demanding function and generates solutions for each sales professional involved. A professional sales dashboard is one of the building blocks of such solutions:
Having all-encompassing metrics in an interactive overview creates a focus on the most relevant data for the specific sales scenario. In our dashboard above, we have unified KPIs that matter to c-level executives and VPs the most. High-level metrics such as revenue, upsell and cross-sell rates, incremental sales and cost breakdown provide a birds-eye overview of the high-level strategies defined in a sales department. By connecting needed data sources, the sales pipeline can work much more effectively, bringing fresh revenue as a result. Visualising the development of the department each executive can dig deeper to see which metric didn’t perform well in the past, refresh the data in real-time and act before serious bottlenecks occur.
Marketing is an important part of every company, no matter if it’s done in-house or from an agency point of view. Promotional activities need to be constantly updated, numerous reports sent on a regular basis and strategic initiatives discussed in a clear and detailed way. That way, the company knows what to expect from the marketing department, the agency can respect tight deadlines, and professionals can save numerous hours. Lots of invaluable information can be gathered on a simple, yet comprehensive and detailed marketing dashboard such as the one below:
The dashboard above is built based on relevant CMO’s metrics that companies usually discuss during the strategic planning of marketing initiatives. It’s often the case that enormous volumes of data are simply not manageable through traditional means of reporting or data presentations. That’s why this dashboard demonstrates high-level metrics such as the cost per lead, MQL, SQL, and net incomes of each, among other crucial metrics. They can easily tell you where your marketing department stands in comparison to the previous month and enable you to draw conclusions and possible adjustments. This dashboard can be fully automated so CMOs don’t need to spend hours in compiling reports each time they have a meeting or want to analyse their marketing progress.
As we mentioned something similar before, modern analytics require modern solutions. Whether you work as an IT project manager or focus more on technical issues, you need to have a hands-on overview of what happens in the department to be able to act swiftly and accurately. Juggling between numerous reports, and often asked by other departments to create one (or dozens) can cause obstructions in the efficient workings of the IT department. Turning to a powerful IT dashboard will save precious resources and relieve the often overburdened IT department of many requests from other functions in a company:
The focus of our dashboard above lies within the field of IT project management. By letting software to thoroughly monitor and alarm the user based on selected metrics, each project can be delivered on time since potential obstacles can be spotted immediately. This solution for business intelligence in IT tracks every important step to deliver a successful project. By having a complete overview of the project budget, planning, development, workload, and tasks needed for obtaining favourable results, each manager can allocate their resources more effectively and make sure everyone in the team is on the same page.
After providing examples from various business functions, it’s time to take a look at the application of BI in different industries. Monitoring real-time analytics, utilising powerful features and predicting the future is no longer a task of a designated data scientist but of an average business user as well. Here we will cover how BI can be applied in various industries and present a business intelligence solutions case study for each.
Logistics is one of the most complex industries that require constant data updates, accurate tracking of the supply chain and management of large-scale datasets that, often enough, need urgent attention. To make sure all the bits and pieces of the logistics sector function properly, you can utilise a logistics dashboard for tracking all your data and enabling you to derive insights within minutes. These dashboards, created with a powerful, yet simple, BI solution, will enable you to transform all your operations into a more effective one, and ensure development across the board:
Our dashboard example above is focused on transportation management in the logistics industry. Informing the right person at the right time about your shipping flows and ensure better operational and strategic performance. We can clearly see the main metrics spread across our business intelligence analytics dashboard solution for managing the fleet, deliveries, loading time and weight. These core metrics, visualised in interactive charts will minimise the possibilities for errors, keeping the dashboard updated in real-time, sharing with colleagues or stakeholders, automating many processes that were performed manually in this cutthroat industry. By utilising a BI platform for managing all the elements of the logistics processes, productivity is well increased, complexities simplified, errors minimised, and full control of the organisation established with just a few clicks.
Revolved around numbers, the financial industry is certainly one of the most important for the economy of the world. There is no company that doesn’t need proper financial services and business intelligence enters the stage as the backbone of this rewarding but demanding industry. Everyone in the financial sector has the same goal – to make better financial decisions and capitalise on the company’s analytics. But to be able to do so, financial managers need to look outside the box. Static spreadsheets won’t give you the speed needed to increase productivity, nor they will give you access to real-time information or automated calculations. A financial dashboard as we present below have many answers to the ever-changing financial data management:
Turning raw numbers into simple, yet effective visuals that will tell a comprehensive data-story will not only enable financial professionals to translate their work to anyone that needs to handle financial data, but also help everyone included to save numerous hours and set a healthy foundation to upscale analysis processes, budgeting, forecasting, and reporting. This dashboard does just that: a clear overview of metrics such as the working capital, cash conversion cycle and vendor payment error rate over a set period of time, automatically updated as every other dashboard we will mention.
The massive healthcare industry is not an exception when it comes to collecting enormous volumes of data. Each healthcare professional that deals with analytical data to improve the performance of the facility needs a sharp eye, agility in their data management approach and the help of modern software. Turning to BI systems solutions for healthcare will not only decrease patients’ waiting times, but optimise the quality of healthcare services across the facility. Scattered data between numerous departments can be easily consolidated into a unified healthcare dashboard, focused on important metrics crucial for optimal performance:
Our dashboard example above focuses on general hospital metrics such as the total number of patients, treatment costs, waiting time, and patients by division, among others. To successfully perform in this invaluable industry, a hospital manager must collect information that will enable him/her to optimise the operational and strategic activities of the facility at hand. Using BI to monitor performance, expenses, patient satisfaction and insights into the big picture of the hospital, will not only enhance the decision-making processes but prove to be an indispensable tool to form a healthy environment where health is needed the most. Clinical data doesn’t need to stay obsolete; evaluation of collected information doesn’t need to take a lot of time – with industry business intelligence, all important aspects of optimal hospital performance and high-quality treatments are covered.
Retail is an ever-changing industry that heavily relies on data to manage performance. Every retailer has the same goal: to increase sales and, ultimately, profits in order to stay competitive in this highly cutthroat environment. Modern business intelligence provides the right foundation to help retailers in their data management processes, ensuring updated information at any time so professionals can make fast but reliable and correct decisions. Business intelligence takes care of automation, visualisation and analytics of your operations so you can have a clear visual representation of what’s going on and where, hence, you can focus on why and optimise your operations. A retail dashboard can fully support you in the process:
Focused on the most prominent retail store metrics such as sales by division and city, out of stock items and top 5 articles sold, you can easily adapt your retail management and ensure your customers have the best possible offers at all times. By having an overview of such important metrics, you can easily avoid getting out of stock, affecting your customer relations, and overall efficiency. Business intelligence will ensure your processes stay optimised and perform in the most effective way possible.
Our business intelligence by industry rundown wouldn’t be complete without the manufacturing industry. Missing one essential information during a specific production stage can mean serious damages to the manufacturing company, where robust decision-making is a key element to successfully perform and outperform business goals and objectives. Many different parts need to work together perfectly to establish the best possible performance of the manufacturing sector, and BI can act as the prime source for structure and reliable solution to merge all relevant processes and eliminate any possible error. Through a manufacturing dashboard that consolidates important data through real-time analytics, has features such as immense interactivity and can predict what will happen in the future, manufacturing processes can easily be optimised and improved:
Products are the heart of any manufacturing company. Automating the monitoring of data completely eliminates manual analysis and calculations that can cause serious errors and affect the whole production process. Knowing the exact production volume, the quantity ordered, active and top-performing machines helps in identifying potential bottlenecks, and BI makes the analysis much easier and more effective. If you dig deeper into the reasons for returned items, you can set a clear strategy on what works best and how to avoid issues in the future. Industrial business intelligence doesn’t need to be complicated. With the right tools, organisations can make the most out of data, equipment, people, and business as a whole.
Do you work in another industry or department? Find here additional dashboard examples for functions such as general and finance management or service and support, while market research, energy, FMCG, and digital media cover additional industries. These examples will show how flexible business intelligence can really be and what kind of value it can bring to companies across the globe.
We have expounded on numerous benefits of BI solutions, provided you with industry and departmental examples that you can immediately implement into your own company and explained what each example brings to the table. We cannot stress more: by having modern BI implemented into your organisation, you can see results from day one, and immediately see how your time becomes stress-free. The possibility to focus on data through interactive visuals, schedule automated reports that will save you hours of work, and utilise modern artificial intelligence and predictive analytics will not only empower the technical team of your company, but each and every average business user that needs to create their own stories with the help of modern software and tools.
Save yourself from the bottlenecks of manual work, and try datapine for a 14-day trial, completely free. You can start your analysis, build your dashboards within minutes and interact with your data-story immediately. Our business intelligence solution will decrease your costs and increase productivity in no-time. And don’t forget to schedule your reports so you can have updated information each week, month or whenever you might need it.
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