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Thinking B.I.

There is nothing new about B.I, or Business Intelligence that existing, cumbersome textbooks won’t tell you. They also cannot tell you how to ‘think’ intelligently when you apply the B.I. method to your businesses because the learning process is as organic and innate, as it is acquired.

The everyday entrepreneur cannot be bothered with jargon and technical know-how in today’s decentralized environment that businesses have steadily adopted. Our outsourcing article this week illustrated the effectiveness that other companies can provide for your fresh idea, provided you have a few guidelines as to ‘how’ to pick them.

Let’s move on to the business itself, then. You’re running a full-scale delivery system, complete with logistical support and you are dealing in a product that has a high value in the current market. There may be several ways to optimize this business, and several steps you can surely take in terms of pricing and product positioning – and then the overall goals you may want to adjust, such as the priorities, goals and the directions in which your company will move. Such decisions are huge in their scope, and can have a crippling, or an uplifting effect on your company almost overnight. So how does one go about making these decisions?

This is where you ‘think’ B.I. We would not be joking when we say that this kind of thinking is the human mind’s everyday bread and butter when it comes to personal decision-making. Of course that’s easy enough, but is it really? A metaphor will perhaps make this laughably simple.

Let’s say that you are someone who’s immensely health conscious – not that we advocate for or against it – but let’s just say that you are, because a business definitely needs to be. You then must monitor several things depending upon what you consider important, or the kind of feedback your body gives you when you eat certain things. Load up on bread, and you might just end up as doughy – load up on the fibrous things and you might end up digesting more than is necessary.

Several permutations and combinations of the items in your daily meal will then help you maintain a perfect diet, at least on your own terms. There is also foresight that you will have – age is a factor, so individuals consume different things according to their age. So are existing health conditions that have to be taken into account – diabetics cannot really make as many flexible choices. The point is this – when something as personal as a diet needs to be optimized, choices can be hard. A lot of internal factors (disease, body conditions, age) and external factors (environment, weather, sunlight) need to be crunched mentally for you to decide these things!

Amplify that massively, apply it to your business, and voila! We have a very rough idea what ‘thinking’ B.I. is.

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The Technological Edge

You obviously cannot plug your body into a machine that continuously monitors things for it – not yet, anyway. Businesses, on the other hand, are immensely compatible with technology. Your priorities concerning your body may not be perfect, but you surely opened up a business with some sort of streamlined model in mind – and B.I. helps with this optimization, with the aid of technology.

So then, let’s get into deeper waters. The process of Business Intelligence attempts to answer two simple questions – namely, ‘what is happening right now?’ and ‘what will happen in the future?’ (Adaptive Business Intelligence – Schmidt et al. 2007) The process of answering these questions is aided by crunching data that is huge in its volume and unstructured in its scope. Making sense of this raw data, translating it into understandable terms for analysis and then taking decisions based on this analysis is B.I. in a nutshell when it comes to businesses.

It is obvious as to why we need this technology, given what we said about the data – several tools and applications exist for this purpose. A lot of data is ‘mined’ and ‘processed’ – from text mining, to complex event processing, to process mining and Online Analytical Processing (OLAP, as is the jargon). All this data is stored in data banks and databases which some organizations themselves maintain as a standalone operation for other businesses to use.

Earlier, technology could present immense amounts of knowledge in terms of data for the B.I. manager, or whoever the end user happened to be – but, it still did not guarantee that the decision made would always be right. Now, we have real time B.I, operational B.I., location intelligence and many other things that all translate into one thing: powerful, effective decision-making enabled through software. The tech also translates ALL this data into info-graphics and can divide complex data into indicators for clarity and terrifying perception. The nature of data mining is also no longer static – data is mined in real-time, on-the-fly (as in mobile B.I.) and analyzed simultaneously for presentation.  

Think it’s that effective?

The header is asking you a simple question – and it’s tied into what you actually know about B.I. as far as the current scenario is concerned. Examine this headline –

“Global Business Intelligence Market worth USD 26.50 billion by 2021: By Cloud BI, Mobile BI and Other Deployments” (NASDAQ, GlobalNewsWire – September 2016)

The entire article can detail the fact that B.I. itself is a business now – meaning, more and more businesses are employing it to gain a competitive edge in the market. In the upcoming on-demand economy, mobile B.I. systems are touted to be hogging the lion’s share – as far as 20% of the B.I. market. There are tools on smartphones that can do this – more and more applications are being developed for the same.

From the planning of marketing campaigns, to selling opportunities, to loyal customer bases and foreseeable rises and falls in revenue – all of this can be settled by B.I., enabling efficient decision-making and strategy outlines. B.I. has the dual advantage of being predictive, and prescriptive in its scope.

However this article is merely scratching the surface of an immensely vast subject. Sadly, B.I. has been made terribly opaque by many, and it shall be our endeavor to simplify this mammoth for you in a manner that is as comprehensive as possible.

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