How can a better understanding of business intelligence give your company an edge over the competition?

Approaching business “intelligently” has meant different things to different generations. In the 21st century, the term “business intelligence” most accurately reflects integrating tools and data to best meet your own unique, individual business or company needs. This varies from business to business, by industry, or even by the type of customer base.

Today, the question isn’t “What is business intelligence?” as the answer remains the same. These exciting tools and technologies can help focus growth or revenue, increase and improve processes, generate better customer response, and assist in decision making.

However, what is important is to ask is, “Why exactly do I need business intelligence, and how should I use it?”

If the fact that enterprise revenue is expected to approach $19 billion yearly by 2017 doesn’t demonstrate the value of business intelligence, then the potential of doing things better, faster, and potentially more efficiently across your organization certainly will.

So what business intelligence and analytics tools are companies investing in? What should you consider when evaluating and implementing data analytics and visualization solutions?

Anticipatory Intelligence

Business today is more competitive than ever. Not only are there multiple technology disruptions and innovations changing dozens of business landscapes and industries, but foreign competition is on a constant rise. Companies today want to know what’s ahead, and what’s next. Business intelligence and data analysis can help assess and determine the future in ways that traditional forecasting, trend reporting, and other efforts simply never could.

Digestible Data

Oftentimes companies can find themselves paralyzed by the wealth of data and information available today. The big data revolution has helped countless companies become data smart—but extracting the “intelligence” portion still seems out of reach for many. The solution can be to join data warehouses, or determining and establishing actionable insights from what you’ve got on hand. Once you do, data analysis will start to look pretty appetizing, and far less overwhelming than it might seem. If the abundance of information has you frozen in carbon like Hans Solo in Star Wars, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Self-Service

Moving away from running a business on intuition and pie charts that dictate an entire year’s worth of strategy to intelligent decision making with BI tools will not be easy. As you emerge from the overwhelming data carbon freeze, there may be some hibernation sickness. But as your vision returns you’ll begin to find that all of the bottom-line-focused KPIs become easier and easier to aim at and accomplish.

In 2016, one of the more top-line trends in the BI realm is a push toward self-service. Imagine a line-of-business oriented analytics dashboard configuration that would not only allow your entire organization to report comfortably on their own terms, but also understand other data with a simple click of the mouse no matter its format. That time is coming—IDC projects that self-service data tools will grow 2.5 times faster than traditional IT-controlled data tools in 2016.

Once businesses begin to understand what the data lying at their doorsteps is saying, the value of analytics can truly begin to reveal itself. Now, instead of testing KPI-related bottom line metrics in the real-world, data can speak to “what-if” scenarios without risking real-life consequence. These real-time, cloud-based, ever-adopting data analysis tools can turn your business into a 24/7 decision engine.

Remove Bottlenecks

When that anticipatory intelligence becomes the fabric of your business, the bottlenecks driving inefficiency at every corner will be overcome. The business can innovate at a far faster pace than before, when every analytical initiative required far more attention than could be gleaned an actionable insight. Today’s Bi tools and analytics reporting solutions change this.

Go Beyond Data Teams

Recently the term “citizen data scientist” has come en vogue—and it’s not surprising. As we create more data every day, we begin to understand it better. With this, any data initiative a business might be considering shouldn’t be locked in a conversation among data people alone. Today’s companies are including other teams and expertise in the process. When everyone is equally data analyst, data provider, and data creator, intelligence will begin to surround and bind the company together in a way that would be difficult to explain without proper data and an it being visualized in an efficient and actionable manner. That’s the force needed for change to begin to awaken in the enterprise world.

When you think about it, we’ve currently living in an incredible era for businesses. More companies than ever can access and leverage big data, utilize the information in faster, more efficient ways, and ultimately benefit the bottom line of their business. Whereas these resources have been limited to large corporations and businesses in the past, they’re more readily available, affordable, and accessible to companies of all types and sizes—and that can mean a better business world for everyone.