Today, people in management and business domains have plenty to figure out when it comes to aiming for a successful business. Along with business proficiency, they also need to understand business data and the technology that goes into it because it may be crucial to uncovering much more from the business background.
Looking at the core expertise for business professionals on the technology side, two core areas — business intelligence (BI) and data visualisation — have emerged as the top contenders. In this article, we will see why these are vital for any business as well as in a consulting career path.
Business Intelligence For Creating Value
BI is an umbrella term for a plethora of areas including data warehousing, enterprise information management, enterprise performance management, analytics, governance, risk, and compliance matters. Now BI has two aspects to it, the “business” side refers to information and issues faced by the entity (company) on the business front. The “intelligence” side refers to the technology the entity imparts in its business. Both of these aspects are critical to adding more value to the business. For a smoother working of BI, one of the key requirements is data. Without data especially from the past, it is highly unlikely to implement BI solutions in a company or any other business entity.
Data Is The New Adage For Businesses
In BI, past data (usually kept in databases) is the source for creating value, and retrieving it fast for time-critical situations is absolutely a top priority. This will help a business entity with better data-driven decision making. On top of this, various areas of BI such as analytics and data visualisation can help chart key business strategies and policies.
For example, in order to predict sales and financial performance for a company, it is mandatory that it looks at imminent past data. How is this done? The company retrieves past data, analyses it and then present in a refined form (analytics, data visualisation etc.) so that it can uncover where it has gone wrong and bring out room for improvement.
Let’s consider the use case of Mamas & Papas, a UK-based retailer which mainly manufactures baby products and clothing. Even though the company set a firm footing across the world with their stores, they had issues with respect to sales data shared in the company. There were sometimes multiple instances of same information being passed around.
They had to look for a solution to this problem. That was when Strategy Companion’s BI software Analyzer helped resolve the issue. With BI features such as a better Online Analytical Processing(OLAP), on top of easy to use interface, Mamas and Papas eventually were able to handle sales data effectively across all levels of the company.
As you can see, BI works extensively with analytics and metrics. This means, consulting becomes less risky with BI if done beforehand. What’s even more important here is consulting with BI can provide custom-built solutions for individual companies. So, solutions on top of more certainty align more with organisational needs.
Data Visualisation For Far-Sighted Insights
As BI gained traction in businesses, there came data visualisation. Although visualisation techniques existed as early as the 20th century — for example, Napoleon’s March Map by Joseph Binard or Florence Nightingale’s Crimean war mortality chart — as computing and graphics technology and evolved, the idea of simple, colourful yet effective visualisation started growing.
Graphs, charts, histograms -- the traditional tools in visualisation have changed a lot from just representing numerical values. Today, it is all about features such as dashboards, infographics and so on, which puts perspectives on the conference table. Business analysts now combine BI and data visualisation techniques to dig even deeper into problems that require time and thinking. In fact, it has become a preferred method to analyse complex problems for today’s business.
So, how does it help business consultants? Just like BI, data visualisation can help uncover more insights from terabytes of data going into the organisation. Consultants can realise key factors such as costs, product/service delivery etc. from these visual tools. Also, from a technical perspective, presenting information this way will make it easier for employees at all level to understand nitty-gritty details in the business and act on it coherently.
In addition, both BI and data visualisation act on real-time data apart from historical data. Hence, real-time data means real-time decisions in play. Consulting on these new data can mean a lot to the business. It can sometimes tell whether the company is going to succeed or fail in the future.
Again consider a sales and marketing domain, data visualisation tools such as dashboards/scorecards can give out visual templates automatically instead of the age-old monthly reports. This is helpful because it shows real-time status along with considering older data. On top of this, it can help see trends, spikes or even anomalies. In addition, it can also be aggregated with other data for inferences on a wider perspective.
The above examples are just a scratch on the surface of possibilities. With humongous of data being processed on a large scale, BI and data visualisation can aggrandise solutions both on the business and consulting level. Apart from just increasing productivity, sales or showing areas of improvement, it can reveal opportunities. Diligent analysis from data along with understanding consumer behaviour can go a long way for the company and will keep it ahead from its rivals.
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I research and cover latest happenings in data science. My fervent interests are in latest technology and humor/comedy (an odd combination!). When I'm not busy reading on these subjects, you'll find me watching movies or playing badminton.