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Business Intelligence

Robert Burdwell - Sunday, October 21, 2018

Business intelligence uses software services and tools to analyze business data for a clear perspective on how your business has performed in the past, and how things are working now. It used to be that it took highly skilled IT professionals to provide this type of feedback. Recent advances in BI technology now makes it possible for business users to get the data needed for their own business areas. The key is to understand how to effectively connect the data to the BI tools. 

Leveraging Business Intelligence Effectively

The many moving parts of the manufacturing industry can be difficult to assess. How do you know if your production costs are as cost-effective as they could be? Are customers happy with recent changes to a popular item? Should you look into a different way to ship your inventory to different suppliers?

Your organization must be prepared to provide any data needed for an accurate analysis of your business. What information should each department provide? How quickly can you get up-to-date sales numbers? Will stats from the customer service departments help you analyze people’s feelings about your service or products?

Narrow all of that down to what’s important. What’s going to give you a clear picture of your company’s performance in quarters past and inform decisions about your company’s next steps? Leveraging your business intelligence tool makes you more effective in the following areas:

Finances – You’ll learn what you need to work on to improve your profit margins in different aspects of manufacturing and delivery costs. It’ll also help you develop proper budgets for different departments and allow you and your top executives to make forecasts about where your business will be at specific points in the future.

Inventory – It allows you to determine which products need to be stocked more frequently due to demand, and which ones might need to be revamped or removed for something more profitable. You can even find out what parts of your inventory are popular in different regions of the country.

Supply Chain – Getting accurate feedback about the performance of your suppliers allows you to make needed improvements. It also helps provide insight on when a change would be beneficial to your business. It might be that you’re overpaying one supplier when you could get better quality at a lower price from another.

Common Business Intelligence Tools

Choose tools suited to the needs of your organization. Will an IT shop assume primary control over your solutions? Is it important that non-technical employees be able to easily create solutions to help them in their day to day work? Let’s take a look at some of the top options currently on the market and the benefits provided by each.


This cloud-hosted solution offers a two-tier approach to handling the business needs of those wanting production-focused BI and end users who wish to query that data and put it an understandable visual format. It links an entire organization together into one virtualized system. It lets you create solutions for both small teams and large. Birst provides interactive dashboards and the ability to integrate with different mobile and native applications. You also get the benefit of embedded analytics, options to connect to different databases, and access to a customer support team to help resolve any issues. The tool can be used across different product lines, departments, and customer groups.

Best for: Birst can be used by everyone from individual freelancers to large enterprises.


One of Tableau's biggest benefit is how it connects to everything from PCs to tablets. Everyone gets the same view of data no matter what type of device they’re on. You can use the data store options already in place to create interactive dashboards that respond in real time. It lets teams collaborate with ease and make needed changes with just a few clicks. You can combine smaller views into larger, more complex ones as needed.

Best for: Tableau works best for medium and large enterprises.

Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft BI provides a full set of analysis tools. The cloud-based suite allows users to create interactive dashboards suited to the needs of their work area. You can ask questions and receive responses formulated as charts and graphs. Users can set up groups to communicate out information to everyone at the same time. It’s open-source API easily coordinates with other business applications and allows for publishing to different social media platforms.

Best for: Medium and large companies would be most likely to make full use of all of the capabilities provided by the different tools.

Make sure you choose a tool that allows you to manage your manufacturing strategies effectively.



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