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by Moira Alexander I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, PMP

Business owners are remarkably smart when it comes to technical business know-how and most business owners and executives take into account various factors when making business decisions. According to recent research from Accenture, 40% of executives even use their “gut” as a key consideration. Many of us use it as that final “check” before making difficult decisions.

So what does “gut feeling” mean? Well, in short it is intuition and can be based on several things like experience, common sense, values, and internal views, among other things. It can help make the right decisions in some cases, but not always. Sometimes more concrete factual based data is needed to solidify which is the right decision, and that is where business intelligence (BI) and business analytics (BA) can make for a more restful sleep at night.

Exactly what is business intelligence (BI)?

Business intelligence (BI) involves the use of tools and processes to capture and convert large amounts of raw unstructured data into meaningful and important information; enabling businesses to perform analysis and gain meaningful insights for informed decision making. Business analytics (BA) is a combination of the people, processes and technologies used to analyze, evaluate, report and measure data in order to drive continuous improvement and assist in making effective future business decisions in support of strategy.

So why should businesses care about this?

As the global competitive landscape accelerates, some businesses are outsourcing their functions to large call centers and manufacturing facilities outside North America, creating hard-to-beat product and service pricing models. As a result, other businesses may be finding it increasingly difficult to compete successfully. The hardest impacted will be small businesses, which make up the majority of business in the U.S. To address some of these issues, BI and BA will increasingly become a top priority in a fight to determine the best way to gain or keep a competitive edge, or sometimes just survive.

These tools can help companies to stay ahead of changing trends inside their business and become more agile in their activities to support company-wide objectives.  Without these powerful tools, many businesses will operate at a significant disadvantage with the gap increasing daily.

What are the benefits of business intelligence?

According to a 2014 Gartner report, implementing a business intelligence solution can include powerful features like at-at-glace dashboards, powerful management reports and business analytical tools, customizable based on user roles or needs.

As a business owner or executive, it is important to strive to become the channel for on-going improvement. Get up-close and personal with all that available data to find the hidden strengths and weaknesses in your business. Consider business intelligence and analytics and become an agent of true business transformation and success. When combined with that “gut feeling”, it can provide highly successful outcomes.

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