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BI: Business Intelligence or Boardroom Intelligence?

Subramania Satish Kumar, Director IT at RRD - Global, Outsourcing Solutions, APAC

RRD is a global, integrated communications provider enabling organizations to create, manage, deliver and optimize their multichannel marketing and business communications.

Business Intelligence(BI)is not new to the business world. Successful businesses have always incorporated BI into their company strategy. However, recent dramatic changes to the tools and efficiencies of digital BI now allow company leaders to develop even more effective strategies in shorter timeframes and with better results. Paper Reports Slide Projectors Digitally Pasive Digitally Active

Anyone who has ever presented to a company’s board of directors knows that using your limited time well is critical to a positive outcome. Using traditional tools, a presentation typically follows these steps: 1.The managers present their data that has been prepopulated in the form of a printout/spreadsheet/ presentation application like Microsoft PowerPoint.
2.Discussions ensue around the data presented.
3.Questions and clarifications about information in the report are asked or a deeper dive on a specific topic might be requested.
4.If the answer/additional data is not readily available, decisions are then postponed awaiting the updated data.

This process slows the speed of business. Decisions take longer, so action takes longer. Incorrect or restrictive decisions can also be made by using incomplete or old information. In today’s fast-paced and competitive market conditions, business leaders cannot afford to wait for the next board meeting for a decision on their proposed strategy. That is why savvy businesses use machine learning(ML)and artificial intelligence(AI)to create more predictive and prescriptive reports that can be presented in realtime.

Imagine a presenter walks into that board meeting with realtime data that can be quickly and easily queried in response to questions from the

audience. Additionally, the presenter can use a digital BI tool to further augment the report with refined analysis updated in real time. Having an interactive tool enables better decision making, saving both time and money for the organization. This is what digital Business Intelligence is all about.

Recent dramatic changes to the tools and efficiencies of digital bi now allow company leaders to develop even more effective strategies

Data storage costs have come down tremendously in recent years allowing businesses to store huge amounts of data. The application of ML and AI to this data store enables the presenter to move away from a traditional descriptive report and instead become a predictive and prescriptive resource for decision making. For example; Instead of just showing a static chart of operating costs incurred during previous quarters, ML and AI can predict the areas where the costs could rise and prescribe or recommend actions that could help control the costs. This enables business leaders to decide with real-time information and steer a course that adapts to market conditions and business objectives.

With the availability of cloud-based applications (SAAS or PAAS), the dashboard can follow the user of digital BI tools anywhere in the world. This is Business Aligned Information Technology(BAIT) driving Business Intelligence for business leaders.

How can you best utilize BI tools? Creating a successful BI strategy begins with sound business data. Implementers should be wary of the garbage in, garbage out factor and must be absolutely sure of what information is being fed into the tools. Business data needs to be cleansed and should always follow a good governance policy. For security, dashboards should be accessible only on a need-to-know basis.

What can digital BI do for your company? A fullfledged BI solution is capable of fueling success in every functional area of your business:
•Visualize inventory and sales in real time
•Predict trends using data forecasting
•Visualize supply chain data over time
•Find distribution inefficiencies in the production line
•Provide historical analysis on payroll, benefits and other employee HR data
•Confluence different types of data including financial, practice management, HR, Admin and other functions to obtain historical as well as real time performance data

Business Intelligence is simple and easy if the business objectives are clear and company leaders have the right guiding strategy in place. The tools available in the market are versatile and abundant. It is important that the leader spends quality time with the Technology team to share his or her perspective and help choose the right tool to meet the needs of the business. Once the strategy is determined and a tool chosen, then the data inputs and metrics should be sourced and reviewed by the respective function heads. Successful integration of digital BI technology requires collaboration across the business to ensure the data and metrics can be used to derive meaningful and actionable insights.

Forward thinking organizations cannot afford to ignore interactive digital BI. It is the future of decision making in business.

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