Software and technology play an ever-increasing role in the business world. One of the most important technologies in today’s business environment is business intelligence software.
Here’s what you need to know about the basics of business intelligence and how some well-known companies have put it to work in their day-to-day operations.
What is business intelligence?
Today, businesses of all sizes have access to mountains of data that were never readily available in the past. Business intelligence (BI) is a way to make sense of what these data points mean and turn them into insights that businesses can use in real-world decision-making.
Using analysis software, BI systems take raw data sets and use them to inform everything from marketing strategies to planning for possible future setbacks.
Want a few examples?
Lowe’s leverages BI
Though the concept itself may seem a bit vague, there are many examples of large businesses putting BI to work to solve concrete problems. One of the earliest examples you’ll find of a large enterprise using BI is Lowe’s, America’s second-largest home improvement store chain.
In 2007, the company started building a new data center in Texas specifically to expand on its already significant business intelligence capabilities. Like many retail chains, Lowe’s uses BI to optimize its supply chain efficiency and reduce the rate of fraudulent returns in its stores.
Starbucks gets in on business intelligent
The Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks is also a prominent user of BI technology. Through its popular Loyalty Card program, Starbucks is able to amass individualized purchase data on millions of customers. Using this information and business intelligence software, the large coffee company can then predict what purchases and offers an individual customer is likely to be interested in. The company informs customers of the offers it believes they will want to take advantage of via mobile devices.
This system lets Starbucks draw existing customers into its stores more frequently and increase its volume of sales. In this capacity, BI has a use similar to traditional CRM systems. In fact, many businesses choose to combine BI and CRM systems to get the most out of their data.
Amex is big on BI, too
One of the areas of business in which BI has been most effective is the finance industry. American Express has been a pioneer of business intelligence in this sector, using the technology to develop new payment service products and market offers to customers.
Rather impressively, the company’s experiments in the Australian market have rendered it capable of identifying up to 24% of all Australian users who will close their accounts within four months. Using that information, American Express can take effective steps to retain those customers who would otherwise be lost.
BI software also helps the credit card company detect fraud more accurately and thereby protect customers whose card information may have been compromised.
Amazon and business intelligence go hand-in-hand
Last but not least among the companies that use BI is the online retail giant Amazon.
Much like Starbucks, Amazon uses business intelligence technology to personalize product recommendations and market products, but it also uses its BI software tools for logistical business decisions. In fact, in-depth data analysis is what enables Amazon’s massive supply chain to run smoothly.
From optimizing shipping routes to allocating inventory among warehouses, data and BI tools influence practically every step of Amazon’s supply process.
The tip of the BI iceberg
Amazingly, these are just a few of the many uses to which modern business intelligence software can be put. From finance to retail and even in the public sector, BI technology is helping organizations glean useful insights from their data.
If your business has large amounts of customer data but isn’t using it to increase profitability, now is the time to invest in BI software solutions and the IT support needed to implement them effectively.