Business Intelligence & Analytics Articles

Five Tips on How Business Intelligence Tools Help Make Better Decisions

by Stephanie Watson
Published on 7 August 2012

business intelligence toolsSmart small business owners know that they need to be able to take into account various metrics of their activities in order to gather knowledge to use in running their business properly.

The following types of business intelligence can help support making informed business decisions:

  • On Time Business Intelligence - Metrics collected at the time the transaction or actions occurs. Can be used immediately, or saved for later data mining for other informative purposes.
  • Task Oriented Business Intelligence - Any metrics collected about specific tasks within your business such as accounting and finance, sales and marketing, project management and so forth.
  • Exploratory Business Intelligence - This type of analytics can help a business such as a sales business compare two territories to figure out why region A is doing better than region B. Then, using the results of the analytics the business manager can choose different actions for region B to help improve sales results.
  • Intermediary Business Intelligence - Any of the above done by a 3rd party person or service employed to deliver business metrics.

Today, with the advent of cloud-based computing, there are loads of business intelligence (BI) tools that can help you make good decisions based on sound metrics. Here are five tips for driving better business intelligence.

1. Move To The Cloud

Cloud-based software solutions for every aspect of your business exist. They are less expensive, more secure, and easier to implement than their old spreadsheet based counterparts. If BI confuses you, realize that many software programs you're already using probably have BI included, you're just not using it.

2. Ensure User-friendliness

Most cloud-based software solutions offer free trials so that you can try out the software before you buy it. It's important to take advantage of this offer because what is user friendly for one person, may not be so for the next. Often, user-friendliness is in the eye of the user. Try out every aspect, ask questions, test out the customer service and responsiveness before you spend your hard earned money.

3. Make Sure It Fits Your Budget

Before you even test it out, check the pricing structure to ensure that it fits your needs. If it doesn't, there is no point in even trying the solution if you can't find a way to pay for it. Remember to consider other factors than just price though. Consider time and resources saved by improved analytics of your business too. A solution such as Zoho Reports is very affordable and starts at $15 / user / month.

4. Choose Function Specific BI Tools

If you have a sales focused business, choose BI software that addresses and is made for sales because you'll get the best metrics for your business if you use the right software tool for the job. You can sometimes find all in one solutions, but other times you may need more than one software to run your business with the best BI you can afford.

5. Do Your Due Diligence

Always research and test any software that you plan to use for your business. Check out the creators and ask the right questions. Ask about security, ask about their expertise. Why did they create the particular BI or BI enabled software? What makes them an expert? Why should you trust them with your data?

You can compare cloud-based business intelligence tools here.


Apps mentioned in this article