What exactly is Business Intelligence?

What exactly is Business Intelligence?

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A recent survey reported that IT leaders saw a 41% increase in requests for Business Intelligence (BI) solutions. Gartner reported that in 2019 the BI industry grew by over 10% to $24.8 billion, with BI platforms the fastest-growing segment. Clearly, a lot of companies are taking advantage of BI to grow their business.

But what is Business Intelligence, really? We’ll explain it in layman’s terms, along with some of the language that goes with it, so you can feel confident using this valuable tool to give you a competitive edge.

Business Intelligence explained

Think of Business Intelligence as an umbrella term. It covers all of the processes, infrastructure and tools of organising and analysing data, then turning it into actionable insights to optimise business performance. In very simple terms, it provides up-to-date information based on facts so you can make better decisions.

A Business Intelligence system gathers data from multiple sources – internal and external – and collates it into a data warehouse. A secure data warehouse is a place where all of your data is stored and organised, ensuring everyone in the organisation works from one single source of data. We refer to this as one single source of truth, a critical piece of any solution.

Data is analysed and presented in visual dashboards to the end-user. The dashboards are adapted to each user so they are easy to understand and contain only the information relevant to that person’s position. The dashboards are delivered automatically and operate on real-time data. The user can click through to understand the story behind the numbers – we call this ‘drilling into the why’ – and see the information modeled in different formats. Trends are identified and presented. Future outcomes can be forecast.

From the dashboard, the user can make fast, accurate decisions and plan strategically. There is no need to spend time gathering information and organising it into reports – with a BI solution, it is all done for you. Insights are delivered to you, modelled to help you achieve your KPIs, so you can spend more time focusing on actions to improve and grow the business.

These insights are based completely on data so decisions made from them are data-driven. Becoming a data-driven organisation means converting to relying on data for all decisions, across the board. Data becomes a key part of business strategy and company culture, eliminating the need to rely on ‘gut feelings’ to make important decisions. Thus data-driven organisations act with confidence and quickly adapt to changing environments.

The overall goal of Business Intelligence is to drive better decisions for a better business.

The layor below the visuals

The above is a surface understanding of BI. Here’s the basics of what happens behind the scenes, and why it is so important to get it right.

A BI system first gathers raw data from all of your sources and extracts it into a data lake – essentially a pool of raw data. It is crucial to ensure that all of the available data is captured here. Then, through a data mapping process, data is matched to appropriate fields. Data mapping integrates the data, grouping like data together so it can be analyzed.

It is critical to get the data mapping process correct. One error can cause a ripple effect throughout the organisation. Data mapping directly affects the quality of your data, and of your data insights. As the amount of data increases, the process becomes more complex.

Following data mapping, the organised data is then stored in your data warehouse in a usable form. From there, queries are run against the data to build automated reports – visual dashboards and reports delivered directly to the user, automatically.

Business Intelligence evolved

Decision Intelligence (DI) has evolved from Business Intelligence to deliver more effective decisions and better business outcomes. Where Business Intelligence tools enable data-driven decisions, Decision Intelligence goes beyond that to combine the cause and effect of a decision to determine the best outcome.

So, what does this mean? It means you don’t worry about processing data, you just get told which decisions fit your organisation best. Learn more about Decision Intelligence here.

Get in touch with our team and we’ll show you how DI can make a difference to your organisation, no matter the size of your business or budget.

The Top 5 reasons Business Intelligence can help NDIS and disability providers

The Top 5 reasons Business Intelligence can help NDIS and disability providers

Smart Farm: What you need to know

In practical terms, it’s a system that allows us to combine many sources of data and present that data in a visual, easy to understand way. Why would BI be useful to an NDIS provider? Here are the top 5 reasons:

1. You have a LOT of systems

Case management, rostering, financial, incident register, CRM, various online portals, and spreadsheets everywhere.

The problems with having so many systems include:

None of the systems “talk to each other” – which means staff spend hours and hours compiling reports
Data is “locked away” in systems – you can enter the data, but there’s no functionality to retrieve the information, or in the form you want
As a result, everyone relies on spreadsheets to record information. It’s impossible to maintain version control, and requires constant updating as the data changes
There is no “one source of truth” – one department reports different figures to the other department and everyone seems to be on a different page

There’s no doubt all the different systems have a benefit and role to play. There is a much better way to manage and govern the data between all the different programs and users.

That’s where business intelligence comes in. BI allows reporting across different data sets so everything is presented in the same place.

Being able to access different data sets means opening up opportunity to automate reporting and create reports that were not feasible. Because BI feeds directly from the source of the data – the information is always up to date.

2. You need information now, not in weeks or months

Having the ability to stay on top of your billing and service delivery can make a huge impact to the bottom line. If you know in advance that a clients plan is coming up to expiry and that client has been under-serviced, you can proactively work towards ensuring everyone’s needs are met within the plan constraints of time and budget.

By being proactive you can help manage and prepare for situations faced by many providers such as funding care for a client who is between plans.

3. The burden of reporting

The administrative burden for NDIS payments and billing, along with other reporting places a massive strain on staff resources. In 2018 staff should not be manually producing reports that can be generated automatically. Not only is it a poor use of resources, it increases the chances for error in reporting and analysis.

Where possible, automated reporting frees up staff to focus on tasks which add value.

With margins on NDIS prices so poor, every way your team can be more efficient goes a long way.

Smart Farm: What you need to know

4. NDIS Client management

There are so many factors that go into managing a client. Quoting, monitoring the plan expiry and value, reporting on progress and outcomes, tracking important events like incidents and ensuring customer satisfaction and service levels are met.

Often your software programs do not allow you to easily see at a glance what’s happening. Business intelligence reporting can allow you to see the high-level view and “drill through” to the details.

5. Data quality

Submitting bulk payments for processing can be very frustrating when there are errors.

Having to report across key data quality metrics allows your team to ensure that all the “gaps are filled” and all the “boxes are ticked”. Not only does this help with billing but also compliance and reporting: there is an adage – “what gets reported gets done”.


Business Intelligence isn’t another system you need to enter data into. It’s a platform that allows the information you do have to be used effectively.

In an environment where every efficiency counts, BI can go a long way to ensuring you keep your company and client journeys on track.

The underrated value of engaging a BI expert

The underrated value of engaging a BI expert

Smart Farm: What you need to know

Don’t think you need to go it alone when using your data to make crucial business decisions.

Nobody who has experienced the power of business intelligence (BI) done well, doubts its potential to transform a business. However, getting started and then effectively utilising the information can be overwhelming, complex and most notably time-consuming.

This is where engaging a business intelligence expert to guide you through the options and process can be a worthwhile investment to ensure the success of your project.

An experienced business intelligence consultant will tell you that 80 per cent of the work starts with the planning and assessing of your unique data – known as the Foundation Stage. The remaining 20 per cent is spent choosing and setting up your BI tool (e.g. Qlik, Power BI, Yellowfin BI, Tableau) to present and communicate your data – known as the Visualisation Stage.

A good foundation is the greatest factor in determining the success of your project but is often overlooked or not well understood. Often resulting in business professionals finding themselves jumping ahead and missing a crucial steps.

When engaging your BI consultant they should guide you through three key steps to ensure you get the most of out each stage in the process:

1. Business Review

This is a crucial step where all stakeholders are consulted and asked the right questions to define the specific problems that need to be solved. From here they can develop correct reporting requirements and plan for the next step.

2. Data Structuring

In this step they present solutions to collect, prepare and organise your data to eventually deliver relevant reports as defined in the business review. 

3. Business Intelligence platform

Finally you are ready to choose your BI platform. You will now be creating the right reports and dashboards to suit your business based on the information gathered during the Foundation Stage. It means the BI platform can essentially just be the presentation layer for the work already done.

Speaking to the experts and learning from their experience can help you make the right choices for your business. Experts in the foundation and visualisation stages of BI projects can guide you through the entire process and ensure the solution achieve your ultimate goal – making informed business decisions!

Six signs your business needs a Business Intelligence solution

Six signs your business needs a Business Intelligence solution


Are you sitting on top of valuable insights hidden in your data? Today we’re sharing six of the most common signs we’ve observed your business needs a BI solution.

We are living in an information-rich world. Every day we have the capacity to create and store more and more data. But as with most things, it’s not always the size but the quality that counts. Without the ability to organise and interpret your data you could be missing out on key information to improve your business operations.

Below we share six of the most common signs we’ve observed that your business needs a Business Intelligence (BI) solution:

1. You are too reliant on excel

Excel has been the go-to data collection tool for as long as we can remember. It’s flexible, searchable, and easy to use. However, as a business grows and requires more sophisticated analysis it soon starts to show it’s limits. One of the key problems being; if multiple people are making manual edits to the same file and sharing it with colleagues you risk losing track of changes and accuracy. This is a problem easily solved by a BI tool that allows multiple logins to access the same information which gives your organisation “one version of the truth”. 

2. You are overwhelmed by the amount of data available

If your business is continuously creating mounds of paperwork and data that keeps growing at an ever increasing pace, then you’re most likely in need of a BI tool such as Yellowfin BI, Qlik View, Qlik Sense, Tableau or Power BI. Having lots of data is no good to anyone if you don’t have an efficient and immediate way to analyse it, identify problems and act on business insights.


3. You have multiple sources of data to combine

Do you have numerous staff spending countless hours manually going through multiple sources to combine information and create reports? The problem with this is joining that data together can be time-consuming and subject to error. A BI tool will give you an efficient and centralised way to extract, analyse and present your data accurately. Say goodbye to wasting time and resources and driving your staff mad. 

4. You are spending too much time manually creating reports

Creating and sharing reports is an important part of any business’s function as it enables you to reflect and make better decisions to improve and grow. However, how often have you felt you’ve spent most of your time creating reports and presentations rather than getting the actual job done? With a BI tool such as Yellowfin BI, all the work is done for you and your reports are ready to roll in minutes from anywhere giving you an up-to-the-minute understanding of where your business operations stand.


5. You don’t have the information you need to make decisions in a timely fashion

Whether or not you consider yourself to have a good business brain; if your decisions are not backed by accurate and timely data you are probably making decisions by taking an uneducated guess. Sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don’t. A dynamic BI tool can arm you with information that allows you to analyse your data by comparing, drilling and filtering information in real time. Now, that’s a way to be confident in your decision making. 

6. You know there are opportunities out there if you can get your data under control

Probably the clearest sign that you need a BI solution is recognising the un-tapped value of your data and the insights and opportunities that it contains. Having a BI consultant come and work with you to adopt better BI practices can produce positive effects in your business almost immediately, and allow you to take the prized upper hand.