Every business generates huge amounts of data that is usually collected, stored and treated as a priceless asset. Data storage and backup is recognised as an ongoing cost. Sadly, stored data is often completely worthless. The reason is quite simple: In many companies the people who make the decisions don’t understand how to extract useful information from their data and, worse still, they don’t know how to change this situation.
When it comes to running a company, comprehensive business intelligence is the most effective way to ensure the right decisions are made. In well-run companies, business intelligence is extracted from data by specialised computer programs and interpreted by people trained to understand how to use and disseminate the information they are given.
The business information concealed in company data is absolutely vital to the health and well-being of the organisation that owns it. Accessing and sharing this information is just as important as storing it so it doesn’t make sense to spend money on a business intelligence system without training staff to operate it effectively.
The advantages to training are quite obvious: Well trained, business intelligence focussed staff are able to detect and recognise even tiny changes in the way a business is running. They will ‘pick up’ on trends and in some circumstances will even be able to forecast the future. Business intelligence trained staff can actually prevent problems by recognising the signs and pro-actively dealing with difficulties before they happen.
The positive benefits to staff training are just as easy to understand: The ability to predict sales trends and to link sales opportunities for cross-selling can offer a huge competitive edge. Business intelligence can help you to recognise new opportunities, plan more effective marketing campaigns and develop powerful sales strategies. All you need to do is to train your staff to understand what your business data is telling them.
The first step is to get ‘buy-in’ from your senior managers. These guys should already be using business intelligence to make their decisions. If they are not then they need to be trained first. It doesn’t take long to explain the benefits of business intelligence to staff and the effects can be astounding. Imagine how useful it would be if you knew what people were going to buy before they did?
Sales people quickly recognise the added commission or bonus opportunities that business intelligence can offer. Marketing people are swift to capitalise on new opportunities to promote their organisation and managers at all levels feel empowered by the extra knowledge that business intelligence can deliver.
The biggest challenge you face when implementing a business intelligence system is an inability to change. Business intelligence can present you with huge rewards but you must educate staff to enable them to take advantage of the benefits it can bring. Think of it this way: Anyone can drive a high performance car but everyone starts out by getting a few lessons first!