Evolving Your Business Intelligence into Powerful Enterprise Analytics

March 21, 2023
Evolving Your Business Intelligence into Powerful Enterprise Analytics

Data is becoming increasingly important and, as such, it remains imperative that this valuable resource is securely stored in one place. When data is siloed or fragmented, it can lead to disorder and this can cause a company to lose its edge. Opting to go with a more cohesive and integrated model allows companies to retain their edge in competitive environments.

In this way, companies better equip themselves to answer specific and often unpredictable questions. A robust business intelligence platform allows you to track critical metrics and high-level status updates across the company. Business intelligence (BI) converts your company into a data-driven machine, nurturing the quick decision-making necessary to meet your business goals.

The future is data-driven—data from Reuters predicts the BI market will reach £28.53 billion in 2022. With so many BI solutions on the market, figuring out which is best for your business can prove a daily struggle. What daily challenges does your business face? And how might a robust business intelligence platform help resolve them?

Common Business Intelligence Challenges That Every Organisation Faces

Research indicated that reports, dashboards, ad-hoc queries, visualization/discovery, and planning/what-if scenarios are the most critical types of analytics to consider.

Mid- to large-sized organisations with multiple departments face several challenges regarding potential BI solutions. Each department may leverage its own BI software, but the organisation as a whole remains disjointed. Companies may struggle to convert these data insights into actionable strategies without a centralised BI solution, such as those provided by the likes of IBM Cognos.

Don’t let fragmented puzzle pieces prevent you from attaining your business goals. Instead, bring those pieces together to see the full picture. Let’s explore some of the most common BI challenges business leaders face today.

Data Integration

As companies pull data from various sources, they’ll need a way to combine all that data for analysis. Most companies leverage a data warehouse to store information from their cloud or in-house systems. However, companies can be more agile by pivoting toward BI tools for data integration, effectively bypassing the data warehouse.

Of course, the best BI solutions don’t come without technical trade-offs. Some competitor systems may hinder your ability to refresh data reports on the fly. While trying to pull data from a client’s data warehouse, one consulting firm was forced to write its own Java application to harmonise all the files. Companies can’t afford to take these unnecessary steps in today’s fast-paced world.

Data Quality

Inaccurate data is useless to your company. Furthermore, errors that make it past filters can severely damage your brand and company image. It’s borderline impossible to overcome human error when processing mass quantities of data. With BI solutions like IBM Cognos, companies can ensure the accuracy of their data, while combing out errors and duplicates and identifying missing data streams.

Data Silos

There are probably several data silos scattered across your company, collecting data from their specific departments and concentrating them in one place. However, those silos often come with their own permission levels and security settings. In turn, your current BI solutions struggle to access the data you need. To truly leverage the capabilities of a robust business intelligence platform, companies must pivot away from silos and towards data harmonisation.

Inconsistent data silos are like playing telephone—you may end up with several different versions of the truth, including conflicting KPI results, among other business metrics. Keep everything streamlined with an all-encompassing business intelligence platform.

Key Benefits of Utilising Enterprise Analytics Platforms

If you think of your existing data systems as puzzle pieces, BI analytics platforms essentially put the puzzle together, creating a fuller image. Instead of making decisions based on one department’s data—one fragment of the puzzle—you can make agile choices backed by the big picture.

How will leveraging a business intelligence platform like IBM Cognos improve existing data systems?

Company-Wide Trust & Consistency

Centralised data keeps your teams on the same page, thus providing consistent and quality-controlled service to clients and customers. Meanwhile, centralisation makes your current systems more transparent and easier to understand.

Consistency also creates a sense of trust throughout the company—trust that the data team members are using is accurate and actionable. One of the best ways to build data trust is by making it available to everyone, thus creating a consistent, centralised source of truth.

Centralised, trustworthy data also helps foster a sense of company culture and unity. By limiting access to valuable data—for example, only allowing your sales team to access sales analytics—you effectively bar other departments from leveraging helpful reports. On the other hand, company-wide access enables teams to be better prepared during collaboration. Instead of spending time catching everyone up on the latest figures, you can dive right into the heart of the project, knowing everyone is on the same page.

Breaking Down Data Silos

The more data your company can leverage, the better equipped you are to progress into the future. Data silos inhibit that progress by hampering the free flow of information throughout the company. A proliferation of data points creates unnecessary hurdles when different departments come together on a common task. Confusion about whose data is “accurate” hinders advancement.

By centralising your data with a cohesive business intelligence platform, you can clearly define “truth” regarding your different data streams. Your departments can easily cite centralised data without conflicting numbers, statistics, or projections, thus eliminating confusion.

Eliminate Bad Data

Bad data is costly. In fact, according to one Gartner survey, bad data results in average costs of £11 million per year! Further research from LeadJen Group found that this bad data can cost companies upwards of £15,964 per year per sales rep.

Bad data is like a disease—it festers as multiple users interact with it across data sources. One wrong input creates a string of inaccurate data points, like a virus slowly growing behind the scenes.

Leverage a centralised business intelligence platform to protect you from the pitfalls of insufficient data and ensure data hygiene. Since you’re only working off one source, it’s more manageable to clean and maintain.

The success of this approach is evident in the following case study:

Novolex, a packaging and food service products manufacturer, assessed a disconnect between their sales and production plans during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the company, limited data meant they were struggling to ascertain where sites were producing enough volume and how to avoid over-producing.

Using a combination of IBM Planning Analytics and Business Intelligence capabilities they turned this situation around completely. The data speaks for itself as now the company has managed to reduce forecasting by five weeks and is now operating with 16% less inventory—a remarkable achievement.

Important Features to Consider in a Business Intelligence Platform

Centralising your data with BI solutions can propel your company into the data-fuelled future. However, the most robust business intelligence platform—one like IBM Cognos—comes equipped with several key features that separate it from the rest of the competition even more. What should you look for in a BI solution?

Effortless Connectivity

A robust business intelligence platform must support all kinds of data sources, including relational, OLAP, and XML. Furthermore, BI solutions must be able to connect to Cloud and on-premise data sources, such as SQL databases, Google BigQuery, Amazon, and more.

Integration and Packaging

Companies today are often forced to incorporate various business and analytics tools together to meet their insight needs—which may prove inefficient and time-consuming. A business platform that’s adaptable to all decision-making departments should allow for deep insights to be packaged in customised ways.

IBM Cognos even takes this a step further with a new feature released as of June 2022: their Content Analytics Hub. Using a single dashboard, data-based insights are able to be aggregated from Google, Microsoft, ThoughtSpot and more. This enables businesses to pull data out of siloes and personalise virtually all of their information in one place. Its modern capabilities even allow for details like customised branding and simple delivery options.

AI-Powered Data Prep

A BI system can save valuable time by cleaning your data with AI-assisted data preparation. In this way, you can source and clean data from multiple streams, join related data, and create new tables. Uncovering related tables is easier than ever before with IBM Cognos analytics.

Fast, Dynamic, and Responsive Dashboards

The best BI systems should work for their companies—with the least amount of effort possible. IBM Cognos lets users create quick and easy interactive dashboards. You can drag and drop data to build auto-generated visualisations that can be easily shared via Slack or email. With the click of a button, you can easily enable IBM Cognos’ enhanced AI-driven forecasting.

Empowerment to Make Confident, Data-Backed Decisions

You won’t need a data science background to leverage the power of IBM Cognos. The BI software allows you to dig deeper into hidden analytics insights, detailed in plain, digestible language.

Compared to primary competitors, Cognos Analytics provides you with more of what you need, ensuring effective scaling without needing to purchase premium licences. IBM Cognos also encompasses complete governance protocols, native forecasting, and enhanced connectivity between cloud and on-premises systems.

Cognos Analytics provides users with several enterprise add-ons, on-premises support, and streamlined migration. Cognos will also help you leverage your data to its fullest potential, allowing the complete monetisation of that data through APIs.

IBM Cognos in Action

Actions speak louder than words—so let’s look at some specific use-cases for IBM Cognos Analytics.

ECCO Ireland Leverages Sales Analytics

Fashion—especially footwear—is a highly-competitive, fast-moving industry. ECCO Ireland wanted to ensure that all its retail stores were stocked with the latest trends in men’s and women’s fashion. To do so, they leveraged IBM’s business intelligence platform to stay up-to-date with the best-selling products and measure sales performances across their stores.

ECCO Ireland eliminated the manual effort required to create detailed sales reports while supporting health competition between their stores by consolidating all their data under one platform. IBM’s centralised data solution also allowed ECCO to respond quickly to changing market conditions.

An Insurance Company Centralises Data

One Company, which provides workplace insurance in the US, went through a multi-company merger, resulting in multiple data warehouses from 30+-year-old legacy systems.

Employees reported spending 70% of the time combing for the correct data, and operational costs skyrocketed. The entire data strategy was wholly inefficient. These pitfalls then further lead to poor customer service and inconsistent billing, among other challenges.

By leveraging IBM Cognos Analytics—among other IBM services—the Company now benefits from a top-notch, centralised data infrastructure built to serve its customers. Transparent and rounded views of master customer information-enabled better data management and more informed decision-making.

Automating their business processes allowed the Company to solve arising data issues quickly and effectively. Simultaneously, automation provided deeper insight into their customers, increasing growth opportunities through improved sales potential.

Essential Strategies in Centralised Business Insights

Packaging and integration is a great way for companies to enjoy increased flexibility when tackling various types of analytics. As technology improves rapidly, people are bombarded by updated and new solutions on a daily basis. For this reason, a company may find itself with multiple analytics tools to service a variety of data needs. While each of these may provide an adequate solution to specific data needs, working across platforms can often lead to a disjointed overall approach instead of a streamlined one. Insights can become siloed from other capabilities leading to frustrations when trying to access information.

By opting to go with a solution that gives deeper integration across analytics tools, companies will have more control and flexibility across different analytics. To address these challenges, IBM Cognos has been designed to achieve just this. In addition to this, solutions that offer an analytics hub afford users the opportunity to access, customise and personalise content according to their needs, thereby ensuring productivity. Hubs like these usually allow branding and creative flexibility.

Other features of this platform include:

  • Multi-cloud data access
  • Intelligent knowledge catalog
  • Pervasive data privacy and security
  • Distributed processing

Centralise Your BI Systems With Prolifics

Mid- and large-sized companies have more data streams than they’re probably aware of. However, that data is the key to company success, thus exemplifying the importance of a robust business intelligence platform.

The data insights gained from a centralised BI platform can give companies a competitive edge in a fast-paced business world. But understanding which is best for your business creates another set of challenges. Thankfully, you can turn to a reliable IT partner like Prolifics to help you move away from siloed and fragmented data to adopt the right enterprise business intelligence solutions for you.

The Prolifics team has decades of experience helping companies in finance, retail, logistics, and more to manage and optimise data. We work with you out of the gate to analyse your current BI state and identify innovative opportunities—all the way through to the successful implementation of your plan.

Contact Prolifcs today to learn how adopting a business intelligence software like IBM Cognos can unlock untapped potential in your current business analytics systems.