AIR provides BI to improve decision making, cut costs and identify new business opportunities. BI is more than just corporate reporting and more than a set of tools to coax data out of enterprise systems. CIOs use BI to identify inefficient business processes that are ripe for re-engineering.
With today's BI tools, businesses can jump in and start analyzing data themselves, rather than wait for IT to run complex reports. This democratization of information access, helps users back up with hard numbers, business decisions that would otherwise be based only on gut feelings and anecdotes.
Who should lead the way?
Sharing is vital to the success of BI projects, because everyone involved in the process must have full access to information to be able to change the ways that they work. BI projects should start with top executives, but the next group of users should be salespeople. Because their job is to increase sales and because they're often compensated on their ability to do so, they'll be more likely to embrace any tool that will help them do just that, provided of course, the tool is easy to use and they trust the information.
With the help of BI systems, employees modify their individual and team work practices, which leads to improved performance among the sales teams. When sales executives see a big difference in performance from one team to another, they work to bring the laggard teams up to the level of the leaders.
What are some benefits of business intelligence efforts?
BI has helped companies rack up impressive ROI figures. Business intelligence has been used to identify cost-cutting ideas, uncover business opportunities, roll ERP data into accessible reports, react quickly to retail demand and optimize prices.
Besides making data accessible, BI software can give companies more leverage during negotiations by making it easier to quantify the value of relationships with suppliers and customers.
Within the walls of the enterprise, there are plenty of opportunities to save money by optimizing business processes and focusing decisions. BI yields significant ROI when it sheds light on business bloopers. For example, employees of the city of Albuquerque used BI software to identify opportunities to cut cell phone usage, overtime and other operating expenses, saving the city $2 million during three years. Likewise, with the help of BI tools, Toyota realized it had been double-paying its shippers to the tune of $812,000 in 2000. Companies that use BI to uncover flawed business processes are in a much better position to successfully compete than companies that use BI merely to monitor what's happening.