How Business Intelligence Really Works

How Business Intelligence Really Works

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Business Intelligence (BI) has seen a meteoric rise over the past few years. As computing power has finally caught up with the vast amount of data we are compiling, companies, large and small, are looking for ways to uncover trends and insights. While this term “BI” is a popular buzz word, there are a number of misconceptions about what it is and how it works.

BI has become synonymous with dashboards and visualization tools, the truth is, there is a lot more to BI than front-end tools. In order to ensure you get quality insights, you must understand business intelligence as a whole. In this video, I uncover how business intelligence works and how each phase impacts the process as a whole. Using BI effectively can help your business create a 360-degree view of its customers and business processes.

Video Transcript:

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Hey, what’s up, everybody? And welcome to Hack My Growth. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about what Business Intelligence is, and what we need to have an effective BI strategy for our marketing, as well as business growth.

So, today we’re going to be talking about Business Intelligence. And a lot of times when we hear words like BI, or big data, or AI, and machine learning, (we wonder) what does that mean? A lot of people want to be involved in it, because they see that it has a practical application, or benefit for their business. But, a lot of people don’t understand what BI is, and what you need behind the scenes in order to make BI effective for your business.

So, a lot of times when we talk about Business Intelligence, people tend to only think about this section over here, which is the presentation side. And this is the dashboard, the scorecard, the OLAP tools, those things that you know you see; you visualize the data.

But, as you can see, that’s here at the end. What we need to understand is, what needs to happen before we can get visualizations that actually benefit us, and really make a big difference.

So, we need to push all the way back to the beginning, and the foundations of our data. We need to have good data sources, and the data needs to be stored correctly, and we need to make sure we have all the data before we can start moving forward digging into the data, and analyzing that data to make some sense of it. And it begins with organizational memory. And it’s in this stage that you start to pool all of your data together: your data warehouse, your ERP solution, if you have one, your knowledge repositories, your content management system, your data management systems.

Where is all your data? Where’s your customer data? Where to put your content? And is it all being stored, those interactions being stored? Is it structured or unstructured data? These are really important things to think about.

And a lot of times we kind of leave this to the IT world. And I’m not an IT guy, but I’m a guy that has gotten very interested in big data, and how you can use it more effectively as a marketer and a business owner. And what I’ve realized is I only need to have a basic understanding of how this IT infrastructure works so that I can help bridge the gap between business and IT. That’s usually where most of the friction is, you know? Where IT has their own world and running with their tools, and the business has needs that they want, and what we need to do is start to fuse that understanding. The best way is to start understanding the data sources.

Information Integration in BI

Where’s that data housed? How’s that data stored? Is it a SQL database? Is it no SQL? Is it in Excel sheets? Where are we storing our data and how are we storing it? And this is all defined as organizational memory; this is all the data that we have structured.

Now, the next phase, as we’re moving. Now we have our data. Now we need to tie that data together. And this is information integration. So, this is where you have some business analytics tools, data mining, possibly real-time decision, and support. But, really what we’re doing is we’re starting to tie the data together.

So, this is where some business analysts get involved and work with your IT team to make sure that the data is structured, and that it’s linked properly. That you have the right data from both your CRM and maybe your content management tool, as well as possibly your marketing efforts, and you’re seeing more of a 360 degree of what your customers are doing. And this happens during the information integration stage, where we’re tying those tables together, tying those tables in data sources together so now we can begin to analyze them and pull the value out of them.

Again, before we can do that, we had to have the data structured, or pulled in properly, and we had to have the tables finished and built properly. And then we integrate them, tie them together.

Insight Creation in BI

Now, we start to have the ability to create some insight. This is not where all of your users are going to get involved; this is where your power users, those business analysts, those people who are digging deeper into the data to start to pull some of that insight and pull some of those meanings out of the numbers. And during this phase you can start to do some text mining, understanding the text both on your site and maybe other sites. There’s a lot of great tools out there to help.

Google Cloud is expanding their offering, and that’s something that I’ve been pushing into to get a better understanding of the content on my sites, and the content on other people’s sites. And Google Cloud has some cool tools. If you can invest a little bit of time into learning them, you can start to use some of the text mining tools and their web mining tools to understand what’s going on on the text on different websites.

Presentation in BI

Pulling that data in, you can even start to do some environmental scaling, and that’s not like the trees and all that, that’s actually going back through all of this data and understanding how your business is structured, and how the data is flowing through your business, and how your processes are working.

So, this is where you can start to understand where maybe you’re shipping too slow, or maybe you do not have the right products at the right time, or customer support is too slow. You’re going to start doing this in insight creation.

If you’re a warehouse company, or you’re a company that’s more retail focused, this is where RFID tags come handy, because now you can compare that data versus your environmental scanning, and understanding where your products are, and how they’re moving around your organization. So, it’s in this phase that you start to dig a lot of the meaning, and the deep meaning behind your data.

And finally, we move into the presentation. After all of this work, now we’re ready to move into the presentation. And this is where we can build these visualizations, these scorecards from different teams, these dashboards, that can be extremely helpful for the day-to-day user, but we want to make sure that we have all of this stacked up before it, before diving into that.

So, one of the things I recommend, before you go out and buy a visualization tool before you start to invest in something that looks nice and shiny, go back and start to look and see what kind of data you have. See how it’s structured. Understand how it’s integrated. Understand how people are already using it in your organization, or if they’re not using it at all in your company.

Because, buying a visualization tool isn’t going to solve your problems, especially if all of this back here is a mess. Now, this is a crash course on how BI should be structured. Business Intelligence, Business Analytics, it’s more than just a visualization tool, it’s a process, and it’s really a way to build your culture around data, to use that data to make informed decisions.

That’s why we’re using the tool. Not just to feel good about ourselves, but to see where we’re not performing as well as we should be, or maybe an area where we’re doing well, and that we would never have realized unless we dug into the data.

BI is a powerful way to see behind the scenes and start to take action, but before you do it, it needs to be structured properly. If you have any questions about Business Intelligence, Business Analytics, or any one of these phases, please comment below. We would love to continue the conversation and help steer you in the right direction.

There are a number of powerful tools out there; I’ve been playing with several options, and I know I have other videos (explaining tools).

I’ll link to them in this video. On Google Analytics, Google Sheets has some really powerful tools that can help you through this process, and Google Cloud has started to grow and become a dominant data tool for business owners, as well as designers and engineers.

So, if you have any one of those questions, you can check out our other videos that go a little bit deeper into some of those tools. Please comment below if you have a direct question about something we talked about here today. Thanks a lot for watching. Please hit the subscribe button to continue to build community with us. And until next time, Happy Marketing.

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