In a recent blog published by Brian Petersen, Director of Business Intelligence Solutions for Jet Reports, he tackled an important yet simple business question “Why Do We Need Business Intelligence?”

We often chat about the benefits and phenomenal new technology and methodology that helps business, but we rarely explain why you even need business intelligence.

As Petersen explains, if you are making the case to the boss to purchase a BI system, you need to have your facts covered.

We are often faced with this dilemma with potential customers - we find ourselves excited at the prospect of what our business intelligence (BI) tools can offer, but we have to start with this basic question.

In summary Petersen has outlined four major answers to this question:

A business intelligence system offers streamlined structure for reporting and analytics.

Providing a business with a centralised data source in the form of the data warehouse ensures that they have a single version of their data. This single source ensures that the most up-to-date and accurate data is available to report on. With many of our customers, we find that they often have more than one ERP system, multiple payroll systems and if they operate at various sites, these sites often work independently and have their own systems in place. Creating a central point for all of this information is definitely a high priority of any BI implementation. We have managed to uncover some of the most exciting trends in organisations by just centralizing their data.

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A business intelligence system allows you to consolidate multiple data sources into one place.

Now that a single data area has been established, your data from multiple systems and even different types of data can be aligned into a uniform data source for centralised reporting and analytics. Multiple ERP and Payroll systems data as well as CRM data is put into the system, allowing end users to fully understand how the organisation is operating, where the shortfalls are and where there are trends that can impact or improve business operations.

A business intelligence system allows you to control business rules and calculations in order to ensure that you get a single version of the truth.

As Petersen points out, often, a lot of time is spend on determining what the correct numbers in a business are. Sales executives might generate a report, while finance will report on these too. These two may not match up but both parties will feel as if their report or data is the correct version. By using a centralised BI system for reporting and analytics you’re able to avoid this problem completely. Having a single source of data to report on means that no matter how sales or finance chose to view the information, the outcome of those reports or numbers will always be the same. The data is now a trustworthy source for the business to report on, and less time is spent on arguing about numbers and more time is spent analysing these reports.

Eckerson Report: Governed Data Discovery

Data driven organizations perform better than those who don’t use their data.

According to Petersen’s research into data driven organisations, he found that based on a survey conducted by MIT Sloan School of business, they perform twice as fast as organisations that don’t utilise analytics in their business. The survey was aimed at understanding how business leaders uses analytics to guide business operations and align to their strategy. They classified top performing companies as well as low performers and uncovered that the top performers are 45% more likely to use analytics to guide business decisions.

So why do top performers use analytics?

Well, quite simply because it is a huge advantage in their business. I would bet that quite a few of them became top performers because they used their trusted data to make informed decisions - elevating their business above those of their competitors.

So why do we need BI?

In order to stay competitive in your respective industry or market, you must be able to evaluate how branches, products, services or your company is functioning. Identifying trends in your data will ensure that you can take immediate corrective action to ensure that production, delivery or service never falls. This will elevate your company’s performance - and that should be enough reason to user your data to drive business decisions.