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Business Sustainability

Business Intelligence: Why agile decision making is critical to business survival

Michael Peach

This article is co-written by Sam Watson from financial analysis software firm Advali.

Having access to quality data is critical to your business’ success! More and more executives say they rely on data for their financial, marketing and sales decisions, yet surprisingly 68% don’t know how to properly access that data (Deloitte, 2019).

In such a fast-paced world it’s important for executives to receive high-quality information in a timely manner. With all the global change happening as a result of COVID-19, the ability to make quick decisions will, more than ever before, be the difference between businesses surviving and failing. Being able to identify where your company can quickly cut back on non-essential expenses to ride out a decline in revenue; knowing your team's workload and where you need to target sales; seeing trends in customer behaviour and how they engage with your channels helping you identify a potential new virtual offering; spending less time on activities with low margin and focusing on those with high impact; actioning low effort quick wins; and forecasting for long term growth. All of these activities become possible with the right data and intelligence.

However, making a quick ‘wrong’ decision can be just as detrimental as making no decision at all which is why basing decisions on timely, accurate and reliable data is so vital. The amount of information you can gather about your customers and the various ways you can analyse that information to drive business growth and innovation is remarkable. Now is the time to start using business intelligence (BI) to transform your business into a more efficient and smarter operation.

The link between insight-driven culture and business performanceWhat is Business Intelligence?

Simply put, business intelligence (BI) leverages software and services to take your businesses data and transform this into actionable insights that help to inform your strategic and tactical business decisions. BI tools are those tools which access and analyze data sets and present the findings in reports, summaries, dashboards, graphs, charts and maps to provide you and your management team with detailed intelligence about the state of your business.

The term business intelligence is also often used in business and marketing to refers to the range of tools that provide quick, easy-to-digest access to insights about an organization's activities and current performance, based on available data.

Why use Business Intelligence?

Data-driven businesses are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, 6 times as likely to retain those customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable. 

As an example let’s look at an e-commerce retail business:
They use Shopify to sell products online; Stripe to process payments; Google Analytics to capture website traffic; Facebook Ads to advertise; HubSpot as their CRM; and Xero as their accounting system. All these technologies capture different data and there are so many insights that can be gained by analysing key information from each of these technologies in one location; this is where BI comes in. BI tools can be used to combine these into a single dashboard, enabling you to see: how many people add products to a cart but don't proceed to payment; how many customers return to the site to browse and at what point in their lifecycle are they doing this; what is their best grossing month and worst; and where should they target their promotions to get the most ROI.  

Reporting, dashboards, data integration, advanced visualisation and end-user self-service are the most strategic BI initiatives underway in 2020 with nearly 50% of organisations now expecting BI to deliver better decision making in the future.

How do I use Business Intelligence?

Not everyone believes that BI is necessary for them and many may consider it as only for the ‘big players’ in the market. However, if you own or operate a business any data you have is an asset that can be used to improve your business’ operating performance. Here is a list of tools you can use to help you gather and begin analysing the data you already have:

  • HubSpot
    HubSpot is a Marketing, Sales and Service Software with a central CRM that enables you to combine Sales, Marketing and Service data (customer conversions, ads, search traffic,revenue, support tickets + eCommerce purchase data). As an Elite HubSpot partner Salted Stone work with you to build out a strategy for using HubSpot to empower you business decisions and make your Marketing, Sales and Service streamlined.

  • Databox
    As a Premier Databox Partner we understand how effective reporting dashboards should look. Databox is a data visualisation and BI Dashboard Tool that integrates with HubSpot, Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Linkedin and a range of other platforms. The dashboards you create can be completely customised with data from any of these sources and can include calculations and side by side comparisons so you can more effectively use your data to influence your business decisions.

  • Google Data Studio
    Google Data Studio is a data visualisation tool that offers you complete flexibility to manipulate and visualise data from any Google Products (Analytics, Ads, Search Console). Most importantly, like most Google products, it's free. 

Here’s how you could improve your business with BI:

  • Know your customers better
    BI can help you understand your customers’ preferences and drive product improvements. Some examples of this are: Using Google Analytics data to determine your customers' journey through your website and introducing a targeted offer to them on core pages to improve conversion rates. Another potential use might be using trends in customer requests to drive new website content around these common issues or questions. 

  • Understand sales performance
    BI can help quickly identify the best and worst-performing products, stores, locations, or a combination of all three. The ability to dynamically drill down into the data in seconds to discover these insights provides executives with knowledge that would typically take days to get hold of. Additionally, productivity reports give you insights into what sales activities and sales reps are driving the most revenue and converting at the highest percentage. 

  • Create better marketing campaigns
    You can use BI to make better marketing decisions for your company. For example, if you keep track of blog performance data, then this information can help you guide your company’s future content marketing strategy, additionally understanding conversion rates from different sources will enable you to allocate resources in the future base don this. Identify low conversion rates from Google Ads but high conversion from Facebook ads? Plan your budget to reallocate some spend from Google to Facebook next quarter. 

Today, even the smallest companies produce data. Whether you have a website, a presence on social media, or you accept credit card payments, you have data that you can collect from your customers. More importantly, you have the ability to analyse this data to improve customer experience and thus improve your business. 

According to research by Walker, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator in 2020. The centrality of customer experience in today’s business landscape has motivated many companies to adopt a more holistic approach to customer experience improvement.

Everyone is doing it tough at the moment with the current COVID-19 pandemic. If you want to make it through this turbulent time you need the ability to make the right decisions in a short amount of time in order to adapt and keep up with this fast-paced and ever-changing environment. To do this you need reliable information on a timely basis that encompasses your whole business, not just siloed views. Reach out to us today if you want to chat about your data capture and business intelligence strategy. 

About the Writers:

Michael Peach is the APAC Technical Team Lead and CRM and BI Implementation Specialist at Salted Stone. He works with his clients to build BI strategies that work for their needs and ensuring they can accurately capture and report on data that will enable them to make critical sales and marketing decisions with confidence. You can read more about S2's tactical solutions here.  From creating a form strategy that leverages the converting power of your website, to user segmentation and analytics that helps you understand the buyers that contribute the most revenue, our work with our clients enables them to have actionable insights into their digital assets. We use marketing and sales CRM’s and automation tools such as HubSpot and Salesforce, data analytics platforms such as Google Analytics, and BI reporting tools such as Grow and Databox to capture data and present it to our clients in a format that is easily accessible. Reach out to Michael here if you want to discuss your BI strategy. 

Sam Watson is a Chartered Accountant with nearly 10 years experience working in both public practice and commercial practices with experience in financial modelling, data analysis and business improvement. Sam has spent the last 5 years developing a model for analysing business performance called the Watson Performance Model(WPM). His focus now is on providing advice to businesses to help them understand the relationship between key financial performance metrics and changes in business value with the launch of the Advali app slated for this year. The Advali App is the first software as a service (SAAS) to link key financial performance to business value. 

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