What is Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence is so much more than just the report you print off at the end of every month. Often, though, that is the entire extent of “BI” we encounter.

What is BI then?
Business Intelligence, or BI, is the set of technologies and processes that allow people at all levels of an organization to access and analyze data.

BI is not just a report and the data; without people to interpret the information and act on it, business intelligence achieves nothing. If the data is not leveraged often for decision-making and acted upon, BI hasn’t done anything to improve performance.

When we work with a club, it’s not the technology, nor the specific reports, that we use to gauge how successful a club is. Instead, it is the degree to which those reports, dashboards, and metrics impact the business.

In this post, we’ll introduce the BI Culture. Stay tuned for the next post that will outline the key steps you need to take to implement a successful business intelligence strategy.

The BI Culture

Before I get started, I want to highly recommend reading Successful Business Intelligence by Cindi Howson. She lays out a detailed path by which any business can get a successful BI program started. For now, though, I’ll summarize many of her thoughts, intersected with the insight I’ve gained from working with clubs and their unique requirements and limitations.

No technology, no consultant, nor software will ever be able to fix a broken culture. We’ve worked with hundreds of clubs and—other than a few well-run clubs and larger management groups—none of them really look at their data. They lock the system down and only the owner and a manager have access to reports. The reports are printed on paper once per month and reviewed in a small meeting with those in charge.

teamThe culture changes need to come from the top down in order to work. It’s next to impossible for an employee or a mid-level manager to convince a business to change its culture. The decision to change things has to come from the highest level, a constant focus on letting the data drive decisions.

To be successful with BI you have to be thinking about how you can get BI into the hands of every single employee. What data points, metrics, or KPI’s can you place in front of each employee to help them do their job better. Picture a scenario where all employees have access to information to support their daily decisions and actions, using tools that work in ways they need them to.

When we at foreUP began to implement BI we looked first at our support team. We were collecting data related to service level, customer satisfaction, and wait times.

The problem, though, was that no employee got this information until a week or two later. By that time the data was old and no longer valuable; it was past the time when it mattered. Our employees were frustrated that they were being graded on metrics they had almost no control over and our customers were unhappy because they were receiving poor support.

We switched things up. We put up dashboards around the office with real-time data. Big screens that display:

  • Every survey response from a customer
  • Every call
  • The current service level
  • The current wait time

All the data was right there, publicly visible. You could see the support rep who had answered the most calls or who had the most reviews, and instantly the culture shifted. Each and every employee could literally see the impact they were having on the company, instantly.

I’m not suggesting that you open up your books for the world to see, nor that employees even need financial information. I am saying that every employee has a unique set of requirements when it comes to the information they need.

BI is the set of technologies and processes that allow people at all levels of an organization to access and analyze data.

Business Intelligence ebook

BI doesn’t have to be terrifying. It can be as simple or complex as is right for you and your business at this very moment. Think of the suggestions in this post as a roadmap for transitioning to a business model where data drives all your decisions.

Learn more about implementing Business Intelligence by downloading the full ebook.