Delivering beyond dashboards – understanding the power of data-driven insights

What do you think of when you hear the term “business intelligence” (BI)? Most, but not all, will immediately turn their thoughts to reports, dashboards, graphs and charts. If you spend just a few minutes walking through a BI trade show that is exactly what you’ll see on the screens of the vendors exhibiting at the event. By Pedro Arellano, VP of Product Marketing at Looker.

With the majority of organisations still of this mind-set, the concept of reporting has become inseparable from the understanding of BI. However, this means many companies today are unable to unlock the most important aspect of data – the insights.

An outdated vision of BI

There is no doubt that data continues to flood in at unprecedented levels, leading in turn to a rise in the amount of unstructured data that companies are working with. This, combined with changes in technological regulations such as GDPR, can make it difficult for businesses to process and correctly analyse all information available to them.

Insights are instrumental to the success of modern organisations– by using modern solutions, businesses are able to present the most up-to-date information to the right people.

Tunnel vision BI

If the purpose of BI is to produce a report or a dashboard, that means additional steps are required before that data delivers meaningful value to an organisation. Someone has to take that dashboard, draw some conclusions from it, and take a corresponding action that has an impact — presumably a positive one — on the business. Without this action, insights from BI are useless.

These days, companies cannot risk being stuck using this outdated view of BI. However, more recently we are seeing a shift in approach; BI is no longer only being used to create and support better internal decisions, but instead the technology is embedded in operational processes.

This means that in order for companies to fully harness the power of the information at hand, we need BI solutions that deliver more than just reports and dashboards.

The real benefits of BI, beyond reporting

Organisations have the power to upskill and educate themselves on how to best use BI within business. Forrester crafted a new term for these systems that help companies move beyond reports and dashboards and can close the loop between data and action. They’re called “systems of insight” and Forrester describes them as an evolution of BI and analytics that have the potential to “harness digital insights — new, actionable knowledge that can be implemented in software — and apply these insights consistently to turn data into action.”

A modern approach can enable companies to deliver data-driven experiences that seamlessly integrate data into business workflows. We must recognise that the future of BI involves more than feeding charts and graphs to a data analyst.

Data-driven insights and customer experience

The future of business is data driven, and new solutions that allow organisations to experience data in new ways, by infusing it into everyday functions, are driving better employee and customer experience.

These “data-driven experiences” can be tailored to specific operational workflows, like automatically presenting a discount offer to a customer that’s likely to churn, automatically adjusting bids for under- or over-performing online ads, or using natural language to ask about inventory levels in Slack and ordering additional units based on the answer.

If we drive our vision based on the understanding that business professionals don’t live in a BI tool, and that a modern data and analytics solution should reach us through the applications we already use, there is an enormous opportunity to transform the way companies use data.

It is important as we move forward in technological advancements to view data as more than just something we analyse, and instead see it as an integral and actionable component of a business process, helping organizations become vastly more efficient, productive, and successful.

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