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Business intelligence, also known by the acronym BI, is used to help companies improve operations and increase revenues. The trick to choosing the best products for the job is choosing those which work with the systems and applications a company uses to run its business and present the analyzed results in an easy-to-understand manner. Typically, managers use business intelligence products to help gather information from a variety of sources, analyze that data, and then take timely action based on the information. Choosing the right business intelligence product can help managers make smart, informed business decisions.
One factor when selecting business intelligence products is to understand how the products will be used. For example, if a product is only going to be used to study the sales staff, it would need to work with the company’s sales force automation software since that is where most of the relevant data is located. On the other hand, if a business intelligence product is going to be used by several managers for different purposes, the product must have the capability to connect with a variety of systems and applications.
When choosing the best business intelligence products, it is particularly important to ensure they work with common business applications. This might include data warehousing, sales force automation, enterprise resource management and custom relationship management applications. If there are any home-grown applications with essential data, the business intelligence product must also integrate with them.
Another factor to consider when choosing business intelligence products is how easy they are to customize. Many business intelligence products offer standard templates for tracking financial performance, sales, manufacturing efficiency and other common business metrics. These platforms can work well for many businesses. However, if different managers want specific information to be collected, analyzed and displayed in a particular way, the product must offer a way to satisfy their needs.
One additional factor to consider is how easy business intelligence products are to use. Good products generally collect data automatically, put it into the right format, and analyze and display it for the user. Systems that require the user to know how to extract specific data from database before the product produces its results are less user-friendly and may not be the best business solution choice.
System report displays are another critical consideration. Business intelligence products are commonly used by sales professionals to check the progress of the company’s sales reps in meeting their monthly goals, by chief financial officers who monitor the company’s profits and losses and by production managers to track the efficiency of a manufacturing line. A good product should offer a variety of reporting display options so managers in any sector can tailor and produce reports in a timely fashion to suit their specific needs.
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