Is Business Intelligence Nothing but a Misnomer?

Business profitability remains the core measure of true performance for any enterprise even in today’s market where new business terms, like Business Intelligence, are constantly being tossed around.

For example, you may be asked, “Do you utilize BI (Business Intelligence) in your firm?”

How should that question be answered?

First, if you are not a profitable enterprise, then can you rightfully proclaim business intelligence is a good descriptor of your organization?
You may argue that BI is different and enterprise profitability shouldn’t be a measure of BI. You may say that BI is how you gather and use information within the organization. You may use the front-line terms like big data and data analytics in your everyday language but fail to see any link to enterprise profitability.

If you make the claim to have bought into BI and you are unable to harness the right data, put it into formats that serve all levels of management and thereby rapidly identify problems, make changes in response to market conditions and ultimately drive profitable growth, then is a BI investment delivering the value you expected?

From the perspective of the C-Suite, there is no argument that the data exists. Every business in today’s market is being overwhelmed with data. It can be found in multiple siloes in almost every organization. But data sitting in diverse and unlinked silos is of no value. How that data is captured, formatted and delivered to all levels of management, not in days or weeks but in seconds is what separates the profitable BI winners from the BI losers.

Effective business intelligence (BI) is not just thinking about data but making it actionable so that decisions can be made in response to the market and the results of those decisions can be measured and tracked.

Effective business intelligence is not just the data. It is having the right means -software and technology- to collect it, manage it and distribute it in useable formats to managers.

Done right, thoughtful business intelligence implementations can drive double digit increases in enterprise sales and profits and thereby drive overall growth in enterprise value.

Effective business intelligence is not just reporting and dressing up the quarterly reports.

It is a formula for success that systematically measures and analyzes data at the most detailed levels. For example, a trigger or curiosity point for a regional manager may be a monthly sales decline. But why? Accountable managers armed with a BI framework must be able to rapidly scan the entire customer landscape to see if there are specific account issues.

If selected accounts with declining sales are found, then what?

Managers must be empowered to drill down into the brands, packages and even the POS data taking place in those accounts to isolate the core problem(s). Do you have an inventory problem? Is there a shelf set issue? Do you have the wrong mix of products in selected accounts? Are trade spending activities driving positive results or not?

When core problems are identified and decisions can be made, the results of those decision must be trackable. This is the process for real BI.
For enterprise-wide BI implementation to be successful, the following characteristics are common:

  • Access and adoption at all levels of management to ensure performance and accountability;
  • Speed. True BI is available to all levels of management in seconds not days and is delivered in formatting that is understandable and actionable;
  • The right software and technology engine is deployed;
  • Compensation aligns with accountability. When managers at all levels, have the information needed for decisions, then compensation should reflect a design that rewards good decisions and measurable results.
  • BI is not viewed as a project. It is communicated and adopted as a continuous process of engaging managers with all the information needed to quickly identify the outlier problems, drill down to core causes and make decisions to redirect resources thereby ensuring long term profitable growth.

Are you ready for real BI that drives profitable growth?

Karl Edmunds

About the Author

Karl Edmunds
Vice President, Salient Management Company

is a nationally recognized business leader and author with more than 20 years of experience working with suppliers, distributors, and retailers in the CPG industry. His focus is aligning technical solutions with sales, marketing, and organizational needs to drive long-term profitable growth.

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