Business intelligence: Becoming a Data-Driven Business

November 23, 2020

Data Driven Business BI

Business realities have changed drastically over the past five years. Labor shortages have given way to improved working conditions, a greater emphasise on work-family balance, and most recently teleworking, which is now the norm in most sectors.

In this rapidly evolving environment, business leaders need to remain agile, capable of making informed decisions at a breakneck pace. Unquestionably, real-time data is a powerful ally that gives you a competitive edge. But as Data-Driven Business continues gaining momentum, how do you transition from a reactive managerial mindset to the predictive practices ushered in by business intelligence?

What is Data-Driven Business
First, let's clarify: a true data-driven business doesn't just collect and analyze data but also uses these insights to strengthen its departments day by day and quarter by quarter. It's a process of perpetual improvement based on key performance indicators, which themselves are shaped to company objectives. Simply put, a true data-driven business forecasts, makes decisions, and takes corrective action based on real-time results.

Take, for example, online food delivery. This industry presents an already crowded field where it's difficult to distinguish oneself from the competition. What are the criteria for determining a client's choice of service provider? And how can a business ensure its customers remain loyal when so many of these food companies seem indistinguishable to a rumbling stomach? Business intelligence answers these types of questions with clarity, helping a company analyze and even predict market trends so it can adapt and evolve with its clientele. It does so by collecting internal data (ERP, CRM, e-commerce platform) and available public data (public market studies, internet research statistics, social media, etc.) then studying what your target audience is searching and sharing. Business intelligence identifies emerging trends, allowing companies to coordinate their marketing assets quickly and efficiently. But remember, savvy competitors will also be leveraging BI, so it's all about being the first out of the gate…

From intuitive managers to clairvoyant decision-makers
Unquestionably, performance indicators are useful. But are they enough for your organization to truly stand out? As is the case with all businesses, success doesn't merely rely on the tools put in place but also the people using them! Until recently, managers were forced to manually extract and process data, spending forever fiddling with Excel sheets at the end of each quarter. Moreover, the insights they got were frozen in time, meaning when an action plan was finally put into place, it was already out of date. As a result, team leaders spent their days putting out fires and playing catch-up, which, in turn, translated to less time and energy devoted to implementing winning strategies. When your job is merely contending with one emergency after the next, it's no wonder that you manage with instincts rather than insights. Too many of us are keeping our fingers crossed, hoping the annual review will align with the targeted objectives.

Here's where business intelligence shines. But be advised, when it comes to implementing BI, there's no one magic recipe. The process often involves retooling roles and retraining managers to pivot from a reactive mindset to a more proactive approach to doing business. Old habits die hard. Embracing a new way of doing things can often be intimidating and even worrisome for your employees. To ease them into it, you should highlight the energy they'll save by viewing and processing data in real-time. Let them understand that they'll finally have the breathing room to put the right procedures in place and make decisions that prevent emergencies rather than contend with them. This new way of managing makes it easier for them to react to unforeseen events such as an employee's departure, an out-of-stock supplier, or a malfunctioning machine. BI is not a threat to their jobs but rather a constructive and viable tool for improving team performance.

How to implement a data-driven business culture
Before anything, you need to ask yourself: what are your business's short-, medium-, and long-term objectives, and what insights do you need to achieve them? This exercise helps you determine the best metrics for establishing your reports and dashboards. And remember, for your strategy to truly succeed, you must consider every department. The process of implementing a data-driven business culture must be inclusive, accounting for not only your overall strategy's goals but also the objectives specific to each department.

Indeed, there are a lot of moving parts involved. That's why it's so important to reach out to a BI firm with data-driven expertise. A BI firm's objectivity will guide you in determining what metrics to prioritize today while always keeping an eye on the challenges you'll face tomorrow. To maintain a clear vision for your organization as it moves forward, we believe strongly in creating a dedicated BI committee. Its role is to validate the relevance of various performance indicators at each step of project implementation. Once formed, this same committee will be ideally equipped for creating teams, recommending new tools, and assessing the positive outcomes of your projects. Thanks to BI, your team's performance will improve as quickly as your company grows.

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