Those charts and graphs in analytics dashboards are not just pretty pictures, but they give you a visual representation of your business performance. You don't have to hide your head and try to make sense of a bunch of numbers.
To demonstrate how beneficial it is to visualize your data, here is a quick test. In less than 30 seconds try to tell me, what is the lowest value? What is the highest value? More or less where is the average of the data? What is the trend of the data? And don't cheat!
Do you have it? Do you think you did it right? Now let's look at the following chart
What do you say now? In less than 30 seconds you could tell with certainty which is the lowest value? which is the highest value? more or less where is the average of the data? what is the trend of the data?
So, as you can see, visualizing your data makes it much easier to read and understand. To spot trends and see where things are going well and where they might need to improve. Helping you take action and make smarter decisions.
Budgeting is no longer a problem
If you are an entrepreneur who runs a small business, especially in times like these, you might think that implementing Business Intelligence or BI for your business would have a big financial cost and therefore would perhaps be a luxury not worth investing.
Well, the first thing to say to that would be that the knowledge obtained from your data (which helps you make these smarter business decisions) should help you increase your income, improving performance. Or, reduce costs by identifying areas where you could save money through rationalization, making your business more efficient. So, if you invest in BI implementation, the idea is that you pay yourself many times over.
And my second answer would be that there are BI tools in the market today that cost very little or are even free to use, like Google Data Studio. So the question of budget is no longer an issue. Now, of course, it all depends on the data you have and the services you use but, in general, you can go pretty far and at least start with little or no initial investment.
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Data is available and accessible
As soon as they say the word "data" to some people, the eyes tend to go away. This is not the most exciting (at least to most normal people) part of thinking and can seem complicated and abstract. But, even if you're just manually entering sales figures into an Excel spreadsheet, then you're already working with data. And, as long as it's properly structured, you can simply connect it to a BI tool that helps you turn it into easy-to-digest tables and graphs. In addition to this, most of the programs and services, which your company uses, most likely allow you to export your data or connect to it directly with the BI tools.
This means that all, or most, of your business data is easily accessible. No coding, no data mining software, no data professionals to hire. Most of the time, your data can be exported from where it is in excel or csv format or connected through the BI tool with just a couple of clicks. Then, your only job is to calculate, analyze and visualize your data to start getting the benefits of Business Intelligence.
Tools are easier to use
One of the main reservations that anyone running a business may have about implementing Business Intelligence is that it is too complicated. They don't know anything about how to analyze data and build dashboards, so they don't have the drive to even try.
However, many BI tools today are easy to use and purposefully built for the business user, even a novice, rather than the technical user.
And the tool's creators do everything possible to make the learning curve as flat as possible. Things like building the tool to minimize the risk of errors or putting things in the queries where they shouldn't be, also provide video tutorials and guidance within the tool and even offer pre-built templates that you can simply plug your data directly into and take away the need to build the dashboards yourself.
This is not to say that there is not a learning curve at all and that it takes time to get started, but it should not be a daunting prospect. And it probably won't take as long as you think. Maybe just a few hours, before you start to get familiar with your chosen tool.
It doesn't take long
For each business to implement Business Intelligence is not time consuming. What I mean is, once the data is connected to your BI tool and the dashboards are built, you are not going to need to constantly spend hours of time consulting and reading them to try to make sense of the data. The idea is that your dashboards and reports should be there to help you "monitor" your business activities.
Dashboards, by their very definition, are meant to be "at a glance". It means just that. Most of the time you will only have to take a look at them to see how things are working. Or, rather, whether they are performing as expected. The visual nature of your charts and graphs, as I demonstrated earlier, will allow you to detect anomalies in the data and take action if necessary.
I would recommend taking a closer look at your data on a regular basis, say weekly or monthly but definitely not daily (at least for most companies). So, basically, once it is up and running, Business Intelligence should not need much of your valuable time.
Read: The 3 Basic Principles of a Data-Driven Company