With the advent of Industry 4.0, data is becoming the hub of business management. The race for information, which began several years ago, is now underway. The fact is that today’s highly competitive market is such that a company’s growth depends largely on how it manages and exploits the data it holds. In fact, every company easily generates a considerable amount of data in various aspects of its operations: from the number of sales generated to your inventory history, to data on the status of production machines, etc. The main challenge is to create value from this data.
Trends show that companies are turning to Business Intelligence to meet this challenge. What about you? Are you one of them?
Business Intelligence (BI)
This is especially true for every decision-maker in an organization. The transformation of enterprise data into knowledge is becoming a major challenge to ensure its growth. This is where the interest of Business Intelligence lies.
The term “Business Intelligence” encompasses technologies, processes and tools designed to extract exploitable knowledge from raw data to support better decision-making in companies.
A bit of history
Richard Millar Devens is credited with the first use of the term “Business Intelligence” when, in 1865, he described how Sir Henry Furnese, a banker, was getting ahead of his competitors by collecting data to better support his business decisions.
The concept was simple: rely on historical data, not instinct, to develop his organization’s strategy. While the principle has not really changed since then, BI has been able to take advantage of various technological advances to improve over time.
Business Intelligence in the age of 4.0
Thanks to the various technological and analytical advances of recent years, Business Intelligence is perfectly suited to meet the requirements of 4.0. Industries 4.0 will generate more and more industrial data, and there is no doubt that those who can extract value from this data will stand out from their competitors. Today, industrial data processing is still in its infancy. On the other hand, it’s easy to imagine that BI will be an essential part of optimizing business processes in a few years’ time.
If up until now, the main aim of BI has been to process and analyze historical data, now the focus is on prediction. BIs tools are therefore being developed to help companies develop growth strategies by building increasingly efficient predictive models.
What is the purpose of Business Intelligence?
As you will have understood, the key to BI is information and its greatest utility is to use it in decision making. But how can it be used? Here are some elements of answer:
To have a global vision
BI overcomes this barrier, because it is designed to handle heterogeneous data sources and to perform a cross-functional analysis that will allow the situation to be seen as a whole. Gone are the days when people spent a lot of time collecting data and creating reports in isolation.
Measuring the company’s productivity and increasing operational performance
Knowing how to monitor the proper functioning of his company at all levels is a major challenge for an executive. The amount of data available makes the task difficult. BI makes it possible to process this data, synthesize the information from it to create KPIs to help evaluate your operational performance with the aim of optimizing it.
The use of a dashboard to visualize simply the different productivity KPIs with real-time data to evaluate the efficiency of operations is a perfect example.
Identify development opportunities
Concretely, it is easy to track and identify trends and seasonality in your sales. And if you go a little deeper, you will find buying habits, typical customers, etc.
How does Business Intelligence work?
Business Intelligence is based on the DIKW model (for Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom).
imply put: data must be processed and transformed into information, which is then presented in a clear manner so that models can be identified and thus generate usable ideas.
Yes, collecting data about your organization is necessary, but the most important thing is to be able to extract commercial value from it.
In practice, BI requires 4 steps to its implementation.
Data Acquisition and Storage
Data is collected automatically from various sources (text, spreadsheets, databases, images, etc.). They will be processed using ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) technology to have a structured database ready to be stored in data warehouses.
Different data analysis techniques, machine learning, text mining, etc. will be applied to the data in order to extract important information: detecting patterns or trends, for example.
From the various information extracted from the analyses, it is up to the analyst to consider those that have added value and present them to his audience. The purpose of this step is to visualize the KPIs and to draw from them usable knowledge to facilitate decision making.
Microsoft Power BI
Although several BI tools are available on the market, Microsoft Power BI stands out from its competitors because of its natural integration with Sharepoint, which makes it a collaborative BI tool of choice.
Microsoft Power BI is a cloud tool that is relatively simple to deploy. It is aimed at everyone: executives, marketers, data analysts, its ease of use will help its users in the accomplishment of their BI-related missions.
The ability to connect different data sources is one of the promises of BI, and Power BI ensures this by integrating connectors to databases like MySQL, Microsoft Azure, or services like Google Analytics, JSON text files, CSV, and of course Microsoft Excel.
Dashboards and Visualization
Reporting and Analysis
The strong points
To break the barrier of information fragmentation, Power BI offers the possibility to easily share its dashboards, reports and analyses with its collaborators in order to have the same view on the functioning of their company.
Power BI is undoubtedly one of the most affordable tools on the market. It is available under two price plans, a free version and the possibility to test the product for a limited time.
Helped by the presence of the Microsoft Office software suite for several decades, Power BI has a very familiar interface that aligns with that of other Microsoft products. With this intuitive interface, it is quick and easy to get started.
This is just the beginning
Business Intelligence has constantly reinvented itself over time and has taken advantage of the countless technological developments that have taken place. Now, at the dawn of 4.0, where everything is centered on industrial data, BI will occupy an even more prominent place in the exploitation of this data.
The stakes are high, and the race for information has only just begun. For decision-makers in the 4.0 era, it is the tool of choice for intelligent strategic decision-making. And if you haven’t yet entered this race, it’s time to get started.