The Essential Guide to Business Intelligence (BI) Reporting

Digital Dashboard on Computer Screen - Essential Guide to Business Intelligence Reporting

Reporting is your roadmap, guiding you to the answers you need; business intelligence is the vehicle on the road itself right there with you; traveling through the ups, downs, and unexpected terrain, with clarity as to how you got there and where you’ll be going. 

Business intelligence – a foundational element that has transpired across organizations of all industries today. With BI reporting at your fingertips, you have your ultimate guide to all things business transformation. 

What is Business Intelligence? 

Business intelligence serves as the go-to mechanism for enterprise-wide information management, utilizing solutions, systems, and softwares to combine all relevant data into actionable insights. It is dynamic, automated, and fully customizable. 

Commonly used for full data visibility in executive meetings, business intelligence dashboards bring key action items to the forefront for top leaders looking to make data-driven decisions that impact revenue and performance. 

Employees looking at BI Business Intelligence Reporting dashboard

How Business Intelligence Reporting Works

To break it down further, BI reporting can be summarized by the implementation of business intelligence that works to bring all necessary data sources within the organization through every critical stage for making informative decisions – from extraction, preparation and cleaning, to formatting, visualizations, and analyzing. BI reporting is built flexible to any and all technical skill levels so any employee role can feel empowered and on the same page as they carry out their responsibilities. That being said, business intelligence has many use cases based on the goal it needs to achieve and the people it needs to support. 

Now let’s cover some examples for how BI reporting can be seen in action. As you read, keep your own business processes in mind and see where opportunities may exist for different departments and leadership to 

BI Reporting Use Cases

That being said, let’s dig deeper and cover some examples to show you the wide variety of use cases for BI reporting and how it can be seen in action. 

  • Dashboards: By using dynamic data visualizations, BI dashboards create a level of visibility and awareness to how your key data is correlating, through interactive and customizing capabilities. 
  • Static Reports and Alerts: Need to send a snapshot of top KPIs and performance in the now? Static reports and alerts increase collaboration and responsiveness; so when measurables are off, you don’t miss a beat.
  • AI and Machine Learning: Where human error is inevitable, AI and machine learning step in to provide reliable analysis the human eye can’t always see or anticipate – through advanced analytics and predictive insights.
  • Self-Service BI Reporting: Data-driven decision making without time spent coding – self-service reporting gives power to KPIs and data sources, allowing users to make reports come alive to assess relationships, historic data, and what-if scenarios.
  • Embedded Business Intelligence: Your platforms. Your systems. Your time. Nothing gets impacted when you can implement BI into all existing applications. For external and internal knowledge transfer, embedded BI eliminates risks of clunky, non-seamless processes. 
  • Mobile Business Intelligence: No matter where you are, data insights and BI reporting tools will follow – no decision is ever delayed and everyone can stay in touch with each other and in tune with their data. 

BI Reporting Objectives

When working effectively, BI reporting holds immense value for your organization and those who learn to leverage it. When integrated across the entire business, reporting becomes second nature because of the depth of intuitive knowledge it is able to bring to your data sources as they speak and correlate with one another. The primary goal of BI is to provide data insights to support decision making; and over time this becomes more achievable as teams are cross-trained and the learning curve flattens. Keep in mind that BI may not be for everyone on your team. While it is important to bring a level of awareness to those that aren’t fully utilizing the solution, evaluate who should be trained in which areas so as to prevent data responsibility from continuously being handed off to someone else. 

By expanding opportunities to run meetings, conduct webinars, and develop strategies beyond that of static reports, spreadsheets, and even handwritten notes, BI reporting makes data analysis more accurate, less timely, and enables decision-makers to be interactive with and edit their data in one place. It takes the manpower spent on managing softwares and applications for a day’s work and reallocates it so attention stays where it’s needed most but no data source gets left behind. It’s all about efficiency when it comes to business intelligence – how can you keep what is successful in your operations while also finding new ways to cut down on costs, test new strategies, and improve revenue-generating performance? 

Another main objective of BI reporting should be focused on business continuity and supporting long-term growth. Although more difficult and robust to measure compared to measuring the quality of data insights, this objective is critical for assessing a BI tool as it becomes prevalent across your business. Business intelligence should not only amend historical issues and focus on the present, but also help you adapt for the future so you can see longevity in your operations, programs, softwares, and processes. 

Showing how benefits of Business Intelligence helps create more efficient meetings

BI Reporting Benefits 

As BI reporting becomes fully integrated into the existing data architecture of a business, with it it brings a vast level of programmatic knowledge and value. It lessens the prevalence of partiality that comes when leaders and employees become deeply engrossed and in the weeds of their data because they are working with it day in and day out. BI reporting allows users to take that step back, to not miss the forest for the trees and actually make decisions that support the business as a whole, not just solve with a quick fix. Through objectivity and enterprise-wide security, BI reporting carries many benefits for businesses across all industries:

  • Dynamic capability and customization increases reliability on having reports that are built off accurate, up-to-date data; as well as the ability to assess potential outcomes of changing variables. 
  • Mitigates time and resources once spent on constantly pulling reports, reorganizing data, or making delayed decisions by the time spreadsheets are realigned and KPIs are re-measured. Time can now be spent on what matters most, streamlining processes that were once so convoluted.  
  • Data analysts, developers, and managers alike can all look forward without guessing and look back without questioning. BI captures historic data and provides predictive analytics in a way static reporting is completely limited in visualizing. 
  • However and wherever you want to digest information, BI reporting will provide visual insights on the go without overcomplicating the analytics. Many leaders are on the go these days so it’s critical when the right player can get a set of eyes on a high-priority report the moment it needs undivided attention.

Business Intelligence Reporting Best Practices

You have an understanding of what business intelligence is and its objectives, how BI reporting works, as well as some of its use cases. Now it’s time to discuss best practices as you get closer to bringing BI reporting into your business or are finding new ways to optimize it. Here are some top best practices to get the gears going: 

  • People, platforms, and processes – Leverage each user’s unique skills and knowledge when needed most.. Not every report has the same needs or level of complexity; some will require deeper analysis and system integration, while others will be needed for at-a-glance alerts and decisions. 
  • Manage your data – The more you build out reports and get comfortable within your BI solution and reporting, don’t neglect the foundation of your new house – all your key data sources and softwares. Whether it’s data cleaning, data governance, or data preparation, ensure existing or new processes are in place for staying in tune with the information supporting the insights behind your reports. 
  • Structure with your needs AND desires in mind – Defining which KPIs and measurables to be displayed and visualized across your BI reports should not only strategically focus on what is attainable, but also push you towards the goals you’ve set out to achieve. Your data story should both educate and challenge your team forward. 
  • Keep it simple – The more you over-complicate your BI reporting, the more disorganized your data sources and end-user decision making may be. Recognized your current reporting inefficiencies and bring forth your most used data sources and spreadsheets. Keep in mind the three I’s – keep it intuitive, interactive, and informative. 
  • Be adaptable and creative – Remain flexible to market trends and industry demands that may fluctuate how and what you report on. Try to make time for creating reports that test different predictive scenarios and what-if opportunities so you can remain agile. Data visualization is your canvas to better know your data from various perspectives and the ways your sources communicate. 
  • Evaluate routinely – Remain flexible to market trends, technology advancements,  and industry demands that may fluctuate how and what you report on. Your BI reports can and should change over time. Understanding how your BI reporting is working, or in reverse not working, for you not only requires an internal analysis, but an external evaluation as well.  

Business Intelligence Reporting Final Thoughts

Business intelligence should not be seen as a daunting remodel of your data. Business intelligence analytics and reporting can be kept simple when you prioritize regulatory data management, evaluate as you go, and create visualizations with your objectives in mind. From executives to employees, BI reports are adaptable to every level and every scope they are presenting to. To recap, there are quite a few ways to implement BI reporting so that it stimulates action-driven results. 

  • Dashboards 
  • Static Reports & Alerts
  • AI and Machine Learning
  • Self-Service BI Reporting
  • Embedded Business Intelligence
  • Mobile Business Intelligence

When all comes together, BI reporting yields many benefits for businesses and leaders who choose to take advantage of it and learn from it. From improving accessibility and reliability, to minimizing wasted time and resources, and leading with complete and whole analytical insights, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to business intelligence reporting. The possibilities are endless once you have a team motivated to make change. 

Interested to learn more or get started on bringing BI reporting into your business? See how a solution like Bearex can help you get there. See it in action here. 

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Author

Andrew Gissal

As COO & EOS Implementer at Bearex, Andrew aims to help entrepreneurial businesses use data to gain traction through his experience in organizational leadership and startup sales & marketing.

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