When you are literally swimming through an ocean of data (mistakenly referred to as a data lake), your priority is to stay afloat and not drown with the weight of all that information that is pulling you down. 

Unless you are able to navigate through these treacherous waters, it will be well-nigh impossible for you to predict the direction of a storm,  or make an educated guess about where to steer your business to take advantage of shifting currents or drop anchor to wait for a favourable tide. 

In order to get historical, current and predictive views of company data, you will need the assistance of business intelligence software as well as a strong data strategy to mine business data and derive actionable insights from it. 

At the heart of this intelligent decision-making is a centralised repository that pulls together data from all your business activities, and from all your customer touch points. 

This helps you have a single window (dashboard) view of data from all your functions such as finance, sales, inventory and marketing (offline and online). With this holistic view of the business, your customers and their interactions with the business, you will be able to take decisions based on facts rather than on assumptions or conjectures. 

Customer insights – such as where they interacted with your business, at what time, what they spent, on what and what did they look at but not buy, and their history with your organisation –  helps you improve segmentation and re-targeting of customer groups.

Resources can now be applied to appropriate areas to attract the right set of customers to grow your business. 

Today’s customers demand quick order fulfilment and retailers (includes e-tailers online) must stock optimum inventory to understand where stock is located and how quickly it is moving. Understanding how consumer tastes and demand is changing with time or season, will help you have better control over the inventory and prevent stock-out, over-stocking or wrong stocking.

 In addition to keeping your customers engaged and provide them a better experience with your brand, business intelligence also reduces implementation costs and encourages better communication between departments. 

Today’s BI tools come integrated with the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that makes predictive modelling highly accurate, and includes recommendations for customers who are undecided about a purchase. 

With availability 24/7, across devices, BI provides real-time information on-the-go for managers to take decisive action in-the-moment. 

Along with strong (easy to understand) visualisation of data, newer tools are using the power of storytelling to present data in a hitherto unheard of way and respond to voice queries. With the coming of age of data privacy laws and regulations, data governance is also an important aspect of BI that is almost at the centre stage. 

Today’s business intelligence tools are on the cloud, on-demand, with custom data visualisation functions that don’t need an IT team to modify. Marketing, sales, logistics and finance have a single view to operational and sales metrics and that is good for business. 

If the outcomes from yesteryear’s data analytics were overrated, in the current environment, given the advances in technology, user experience, and data science, one can ignore BI only at one’s own peril.