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Everything You Need to Know About Business Intelligence

The UNC Pembroke MBA with a Concentration in Business Analytics Online positions you to meet the rapidly increasing need for experts in business analytics. Technology advancements and cost reductions in "big data" collection and storage have driven explosive growth in the field.

Companies are amassing data at a staggering rate, doubling every 18 months, Computerworld reports. Organizations use big data to improve business models, automate processes, gain valuable customer insights and discover competitive advantages. It is among the most valuable assets of successful companies, and the business analytics professionals they employ are equally valuable.

Business intelligence is one of two key components of business analytics (BA) — statistical analysis being the other — and having expertise in BI can be crucial to your success. So how does BI strengthen businesses, what are its benefits, and what are the concepts that anyone considering a career in BI should understand? Knowing the answers can lead to a very rewarding career.

Business Analytics, Business Intelligence and Statistical Analysis

Whereas statistical analysis encompasses a range of math disciplines like advanced and predictive analytics to gain insights, BI uses technologies, software and best practices to examine raw data and view business performance over time. The technologies, software and best practices comprise business intelligence systems, which collectively offer historical, current and future (predictive) perspectives of business operations.

These data-driven perspectives help analysts better understand operational efficiencies, customer purchasing habits and distributor-partner relationships. Or they may involve benchmarking other companies or industries as a way to compare and learn. Business intelligence has applications in every facet of a business; without it in today's environment, making consistently reliable decisions would be difficult.

How Are These Disciplines Applied Within Organizations?

These disciplines are intertwined at every level. Top executives use them to trim costs, evaluate potential mergers and acquisitions, understand competitive strength, and determine which markets to target for growth. Business analysts use them to make reliable predictions and to inform decisions in areas ranging from human resources to marketing.

Analysts collaborate with leadership to find opportunities, solve problems and implement innovative solutions. For instance, they may use these disciplines to drive incremental productivity or efficiency improvements. Marketing and sales professionals use them to identify opportunities and to target specific demographics with campaigns designed to have the strongest possible impact.

Operational Intelligence

Chances are, you have experienced this scenario: A new manager comes in, spends some time reviewing business processes and holds a meeting with your department. When she asks why a certain task is done a certain way, inevitably someone replies, "Because that's how we've always done it."

Operational intelligence (OI) equips decision-makers with dynamic capabilities that eclipse the limitations of tradition and repetition. With OI tools, managers can generate real-time, day-to-day insights on events, methods and procedures, allowing them to quickly adapt to changing business and customer requirements.

Businesses often use OI to improve the performance of front-line workers such as sales representatives or call center agents, as analysis of real-time data leads to incremental improvements in the way these employees conduct their daily activities or respond to specific conditions.

Self-Service Business Intelligence

In the beginning, information technology departments doled out business intelligence access, tools and reports. Now competitive pressures mandate that companies react quicker than the old ways allowed. Individual decision-makers throughout an organization often need access to BI tools, and they need it right away.

Today's software is much more intuitive and user-friendly than it was just a few years ago, and thus more accessible to non-technical users. Software advancements have sparked a self-service business intelligence (SSBI) movement that is enabling non-analysts to analyze data, make predictions and produce more informed business decisions.

As a prospective MBA student, you are likely motivated to reach the upper echelons of business leadership by maximizing your understanding of how businesses best serve their customers.

Learn more about UNCP's online MBA with a Concentration in Business Analytics program.


Sources:

Forbes: What You Need to Know About Business Intelligence

OLAP: What Is Business Intelligence (BI)?

Techopedia: Business Analytics (BA)

Techopedia: Operational Business Intelligence (OBI)

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