In the past decade, business intelligence (BI) reporting has gone from a tedious, fairly niche digital process to a critical aspect of every competitive business across the globe.
How exactly can you extract the most relevant insights for business, and how to present your findings in the most accessible way? BI reporting allows you to use data to view the current state of your company. Using BI data visualizations companies can extract meaningful insights, improving their business goals and decisions with a data-driven approach. Business Intelligence reports make it easy for non-technical users to understand the data, helping to foster a data-driven culture and data literacy.
Usually, companies don’t do this in-house unless they have a dedicated team or employee to carry out the process.
This is because the BI reporting process is about more than just finding interesting data. It's more about how to present data to provide actionable insights. It can also take quite some time to create reports that uncover the underlying figures. The process is usually outsourced to companies specialized in data analytics and experts who have a pre-existing formula they can use to extract the data required for specific business decisions.
Identifying current business needs or business fields you want to analyze helps streamline the BI reporting process. This allows experts to use modern BI tools to extract only the information that is most crucial and relevant for business users.
What is business intelligence reporting?
As mentioned earlier, business intelligence reporting is a process which allows you to view the current state of your company using a data warehouse for data mining.
This involves finding relevant business intelligence, as well as streamlining data manipulation of semi-structured and structured data. The end result is an overall image of the processes taking place within the entire organization presented on dashboards displaying categorized data.
At first glance, this process may seem similar to that of data science. After all, both data science and BI reporting tools use data collection, processing, and comparison to fulfil their end goals. However, the two methods are more different than they may seem.
Business intelligence reporting tools tend to work best with a pre-existing formula, providing business intelligence tools to solve problems and answer general questions using ad hoc reporting. In contrast to this, data science tends to begin with more specific questions, meaning that data scientists often have to pull together seemingly incompatible data from data sources and investigate the relationship between them.
The type of analyzed data is also different in each reporting process, with BI reporting tools using historical, structured data, whilst data science tends to use real-time, unstructured data. However, when it comes to data types, both BI reporting tools and data science can use structured and unstructured data, just as historical or real-time data.
The best way to work with BI reporting results is to use each set of business intelligence data to answer questions and plan future strategies only within the time frame and scope of the data. This varies depending on the report generated by the BI process, and there are four types of BI reports.
Types of BI reports
In general, there are four major categories of BI capabilities and reporting tools: strategic, operational, analytical, and tactical. Each type of business intelligence tool creates reports to provide insights for different strategies and different business users.
The BI managed reporting process may be different for each report, but the data visualization techniques should be kept consistent to allow non-technical users to understand the data. This usually comes in the form of interactive dashboards.
Strategic BI reports are used to monitor the long-term health of a company and to make sure that previous strategies are being followed and are paying off.
These create reports using historical data and business intelligence data during longer time frames, from months to years. This allows teams to identify whether a previous strategy worked, or whether there needs to be revisions.
Operational BI reports, true to their name, are used to track and monitor operational processes. These BI reporting tools are probably the most common, as they’re used to create reports across company departments to analyze data and the activities taking place.
Operational reports contain business intelligence data useful to detect more short-term problems, such as complaints or returns.
Analytical business intelligence reporting contains huge amounts of business intelligence data collected across the company.
This gives a great overview of company-wide performance for high-level executives and allows them to make better data-driven decisions regarding the overall strategic direction of the company. Analytical reports are also used by various analysts in both business and non-business areas.
Tactical reports are mostly used by mid-level management as a BI reporting tool to analyze the performance of the company’s goals and whether strategies should be changed based on historical data.
This business intelligence data allows monitoring and accurate analysis to take place at a level below executive.
What is the purpose of BI reporting?
BI reporting is used in multiple capacities depending on the type of report or business intelligence requested.
The overall purpose of BI reporting is to give general business intelligence and data on the processes used in the company. These can be analyzed either by artificial intelligence using machine learning or by executive decision-makers to inform strategic short-term or long-term decisions and to monitor whether previous strategic decisions worked as they were meant to.
Using BI reporting tools allows business leaders and middle management to make more data-driven, informed decisions about the company rather than relying on intuition and verbal report alone.
This places the company in a more competitive role, allowing it to utilize business intelligence data to the best of its potential, as well as implement the optimal strategies to out-compete its competition.
Businesses using BI reporting tools tend to benefit from a better view of how the company is performing in its market, as well as from faster and more accurate analysis and strategic planning.
BI reporting is essential for modern businesses
It’s clear that BI reporting is an essential aspect of modern business operations around the world. By combining data reports with detailed analysis to find key performance indicators, business leaders can understand the current performance of their companies as well as predict which strategies will lead to the most favorable outcomes in the future. These insights are vital to long-term business health.
Being able to conduct robust BI and ad-hoc reporting is key to this success, and there is no better way to do this than by hiring experts to implement excellent BI software to extract the crucial business intelligence your company needs to stay competitive in its market.