3 Hidden Benefits of Business Intelligence

  • Richard Thelwell
  • July 29, 2014

What are the benefits of business intelligence? Most of us can readily draw up a list. Higher sales revenues, through sales analytics, for instance. Better cost control. Better inventory management. And so on.

But useful though these are, they’re not the only benefits of business intelligence. Indeed, they may not even be the most important benefits of business intelligence.

Because take a closer look, and it’s easily possible to see benefits of business intelligence that are nothing to do with those functional aspects of the business, such as sales, finance, or inventory management.

Instead, they’re benefits of business intelligence that are to do with how the broader business—and its management team—operates.

Such as? Let’s take a look.

Early warning

When things go wrong, how much notice does your business get?
If you’re honest, the answer is almost invariably ‘not enough’. And for many businesses, the notion of advance warning is academic: they find out that things are going wrong when—well—things go wrong.

There has to be a better way. A way of putting in place tripwires or alerts that scream ‘Watch out!’ when sales experience a sudden decline, or when the inventory of particular products starts to soar, or when cash flow moves in the wrong direction.

And there is: business intelligence. Usually unheralded, almost always overlooked, it turns out that one of the hidden benefits of business intelligence is that it provides exactly this kind of early warning.

Faster decision-making

It’s one thing knowing that there’s a problem. But it can be quite another knowing what to do about that problem.

No longer. For yet another of the hidden benefits of business intelligence is that it can significantly cut the time taken to move from problem recognition to problem resolution.

How? By providing fast, clear-cut and unequivocal answers as to the causes of problems. Answers that traditional management approaches struggle to deliver in anything like the same timescale.

‘Drill down’ from dashboards and reports, for instance, to see causal factors at work.

See exceptions and alerts in real time, flagging problems as they are happening, rather than through a rear view mirror.
And use analytics and visualisations to explore causal factors and possible solutions, modelling and eliminating problems on the desktop, before applying the fix to the real business world.

In short, while you’ll rarely hear faster decision-making cited as one of the biggest benefits of business intelligence, it’s just as valid a benefit as many others—if not more so.

One version of the truth

How much time does your management team spend debating the accuracy of reports and analyses, instead of moving on to correct the problems that those reports and analyses identify?

Worse, how much time does your management team spend debating the accuracy of competing reports and analyses, instead of moving on to solution mode?

It’s a common problem, certainly. Two different spreadsheets, each showing a view diametrically opposed to the other. Two different points of view, and two different diagnoses of what is wrong—and how to fix it.

And many managing directors, if pressed, would assert that it’s not just the time wasted on establishing the facts that is the problem, but also the corrosive relationships and politics that can result.

For two different diagnoses can’t be right. Someone will lose the debate—and lose face, as well. Meaning that next time, they might be less willing to get involved at all.
So talk to experienced business intelligence practitioners, and it’s not unusual to find that having one version of the truth is one of the biggest hidden benefits of business intelligence.

Getting there

Convinced? We wouldn’t be surprised.

And as more and more Matillion customers discover the ease of ‘pay as you go’ business intelligence, rapid-implementation business intelligence, and cloud-based business intelligence, more and more Matillion customers are coming to exactly the same conclusion.

Those headline messages around the sales analytics, cost control, and inventory management impact of business intelligence are undoubtedly true.

But they certainly aren’t the only—or even among the most important—benefits of business intelligence.

To find out more about the benefits of business intelligence, download our free E-book