Business Intelligence Tools for Your Enterprise

Power up your business in 2021 with business intelligence.

Przemek Chojecki
Dec 3, 2020 · 6 min read

The truism that “data is the new oil” is largely uncontroversial at this point. You almost certainly use some data analytics to derive insights for your business. How fine-grained is your analysis, though? Do you know which customers made the most purchases from you in the previous quarter? What price did they pay for each item? Which customers are your most valuable in terms of their loyalty to your business? You need a way to get highly specific information so you can derive actionable insights to drive your business forward.

Fortunately, you can answer questions like the ones above easily with business intelligence tools, even if you don’t have much of a technical background. They provide flexibility since you can track your sales, quotes, purchases, stock, orders, requests and anything else you may want to keep an eye on as your needs evolve. Even better, BI tools put all this information at your fingertips online, ready to be accessed at any time. Whether you’re just starting out, looking to grow or getting ready to scale up massively, you should be taking advantage of business intelligence tools.

Business Intelligence Tools for your Enterprise

Five most popular platforms

If you are still using MS Excel to analyze your data, this article is for you. That’s not to say Excel is bad, of course. It’s a powerful tool that is easy to use and doesn’t require any programming skills (unless you want to dig deeper into your data). It remains the industry standard, which is why it’s so widely used. But even though it’s fairly user-friendly, unlocking Excel’s full potential can be a nightmare for those who don’t have data analysis or coding skills. It’s full of macros, pivot tables, commands and ugly formulas that require some level of expertise to use effectively. These limitations mean that Excel is at the end of its life cycle, and it’s time to find better tools.

Let’s look at four other popular BI tools that you can use in place of Excel to upgrade your analytical abilities. Each offers users different benefits, and deciding which best fits your needs depends on your particular use case and the technology stack you already have and plan to integrate with.

Tableau is the first product from Tableau Software, which is based in Seattle. Tableau started in 2003 as a tool for creating data visualizations and analytics. It included the ability to manipulate moving charts, and its drag-and-drop interface makes it intuitive and useful for analyzing data quickly.

Exemplary use cases of Tableau are:

  • Verizon uses Tableau to reduce the volume of their support calls by 43 percent by offeringthanks to using self-service dashboards that can solved customer problems faster than a call.
  • St. Mary’s Bank saves approximately 15 hours per week with automated reporting, thanks to cloud-driven analytics from Tableau and AWS.

Qlik is a cloud-based business intelligence tool, founded in Sweden in 1993.

Exemplary use cases of Qlik is a digital transformation — connecting data sources and building a coherent pipeline of dashboard to analyse — as was done for example at Levono.

Microstrategy was founded in 1989 in the US as a startup providing algorithms for data mining and business intelligence. It grew into Microstrategy 2020, a BI platform powered by HyperIntelligence, company’s concept of connecting sources and displaying relevant information across platforms (e.g. having a short memo on a person you’re writing an email too with previous correspondence attached, if that person is in your database).

HyperIntelligence is pictured in the successful customer stories at Sonic Automotive and Genesys.

Microsoft Power BI is a data analytics framework that is part of Microsoft Office 365. There, you receive access to cloud-based services like AI or advanced analytics, you can create business models and reports in a user-friendly environment that is based on a visual app. In other words, PowerBI is a cloud-based service for Business Intelligence which can be used to create reports, dashboards, KPIs, and Business Analytics.

Microsoft Power BI is an excellent tool for advanced storage integration. You’ll be easily able to integrate it with other Microsoft products, so that’s a great choice if you’re already on a Microsoft stack.

How to use Business Intelligence tools in your company?

BI tools can help you answer lots of questions you might have about your business. Let’s take a look at a few places you can apply business intelligence software to upgrade your processes.

How to launch your next product or service?

Business intelligence tools will help you to find out which new products, services and business lines you should focus your attention on. Thanks to data coming from multiple sources, you’ll be able to segment your customers, understand better their needs and provide a service directly to them. Fuelled by data, the creation process is much more effective.

What is the most profitable business line for you?

Business Intelligence tools will not only help you determine the most profitable business line for you, but it will also help you decide which business line you should expand and on which business line you should cut. Business intelligence will show you which product, service or business line is yielding the most profits and which one is the least productive. By using analytics and data visualizations, BI tools will bring you actionable insights in the form of dashboards. You can use these to easily see what product is selling best to which segment of your audience and at what times. This will allow you to calibrate your approach to take into account your clients’ preferences and provide better service overall.

How to grow your business?

Business Intelligence tools will help you find effective, smart ways to grow your business. Smart growth is necessary because, if you scale up too fast, you may lose your company. Business intelligence tools will allow you to make reliable projections about how profitable particular lines, products or services are likely to be in the future. Machine-learning-based prediction methods will show you what you can expect looking months and years into the future, based on your previous results.

How to eliminate business risks?

With the help of Business Intelligence tools, you will be able to determine which business line, product or business is the least profitable, uncontrolled and risky. AI-fuelled solutions integrated within BI platforms can provide you with suggestions regarding what decision to take about each individual business, product or service and will allow you to estimate its efficiency, profitability, riskiness, longevity, or any other sort of criteria for your business.

How to empower your employees?

Finally, Business Intelligence tools are a great way to empower your employees, by providing them with transparent dashboards about actuall business problems and needs, that they can help solve. If you track the most valuable business lines, products, and customers, and your employees have the right information, they will be able to take the right decisions, which will significantly increase the results of any business, product, or service.

Conclusion

Running the business without Business Intelligence tools is like being blind.

You can fail if you don’t have a control over your business and don’t know the data behind it.

Otherwise you will have to make decisions about your business based on guessing and that’s not a great strategy to build a successful company.

So invest in BI tools now!

P.S. If you love Excel and you’re scared of jumping into proper BI straight away, try Airtable — it’s Excel on steroids where you can build smart spreadsheets using any type of attachments (emails, videos, photos).

Get smarter at building your thing. Join The Startup’s +794K followers.

By The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Subscribe to receive The Startup's top 10 most read stories — delivered straight into your inbox, once a week. Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Przemek Chojecki

Written by

CEO Contentyze, the text editor 2.0, PhD in maths, Forbes 30 under 30 — → Sign up for free at https://app.contentyze.com

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +794K followers.

Przemek Chojecki

Written by

CEO Contentyze, the text editor 2.0, PhD in maths, Forbes 30 under 30 — → Sign up for free at https://app.contentyze.com

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +794K followers.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store