What are Business Intelligence Reports?
A business intelligence report is a type of data reporting output that enables businesses to examine and comprehend their data better. These reports turn unstructured data into actionable insights using a variety of technologies, such as data mining, predictive analytics, and machine learning algorithms. Decision-makers can easily comprehend and act on this information because it can be displayed in a variety of formats, such as charts, graphs, and dashboards.
Benefits that Business Intelligence Reports can Offer
Good business intelligence reports offer several key benefits to companies, including:
Easier understanding of data and insights
In it’s raw form, data itself is made up of large volumes of numbers and text values. It is a collection of facts, and nothing more. You need to know how all of the numbers and text values relate to each other in order to correctly interpret the data and the insights it can offer. This can be hard to do, but the visualisations which can be included in a BI report (such as graphs, charts etc.) make it easier to understand the information that the data is trying to tell you.
By providing real-time, accurate insights into a company’s data, business intelligence reports help a company’s decision-makers to make better-informed decisions more quickly. This is a useful capability in all industries and areas of business, and something that helps you to stay one step ahead of your competition.
Improved business processes and efficiency
Once a business is able to make better decisions, they are able to make the correct decisions for their business more often. This capability can lead to improvements in many areas of operations, including (but not limited to) better business processes, more efficiency and lowered costs.
Better customer insights
By reporting back on customer-related metrics and data points, business intelligence reports can help companies better understand their customers’ needs and preferences. This can then help the business to take those wants, needs and preferences into account when modifying or adding to their product lineup or service offering, and develop more targeted marketing campaigns – campaigns which resonate better with their target audience(s) and help to generate more traffic, leads and sales.
How Business Intelligence Reports Work
The purpose of a business intelligence report is to make it easier for human decision makers to understand the takeaways that their data has to offer, and thereby enable them to make better decisions. They do this by collating real-world data from a variety of sources – including internal databases, social media and web analytics platforms and other external data providers – and presenting the key takeaways in highly presentable, easy to understand ways.
What do Business Intelligence Reports Look Like?
BI reports can be laid out in a variety of ways, and the best layout for any given situation can vary depending on a number of factors. The variables that determine the best layout for any given report include the following:
Who the intended audience is
This is crucial information to bear in mind, as it dictates what insights or takeaways will be relevant and how important they are. For instance, a company’s accounting team will have different sets of key performance indicators and other important metrics to the marketing team, and a report for the board of directors may need to be more generalised and provide more of an overview of all areas of operations.
How IT literate the intended audience is
The more IT literate your audience is, the more you may be able to use technical terms and raw data figures in your reports. The less IT-literate your intended audience is, the more you will need to rely on visualisations and ‘plain English’.
The data you have to report on
Certain types of data are more or less suited to certain types of presentation in a report. For instance, monthly sales figures are typically well suited to a line graph or bar chart visualisation, and you’re less likely to see them presented via a pie chart. Other data points (such as market share) work well as a pie chart, but not as a line graph. With these examples in mind it’s easy to see how the data you’re reporting on can dictate what your report looks like to an extent.
The takeaways you need to highlight
Also because certain types of data work better with certain visualisations, the key takeaways that those reading a report need to understand can likewise dictate what your report looks like to a degree. This is because you’ll likely want to build the report around presenting those takeaways in the most easy-to-understand way possible, and you might need to use certain styles of presentation or data visualisation in order to do that.
The medium through which your report is to be presented
This is more a question of practicality, but how your audience is intended to digest your report can have an impact on how you present it too. If a report is to be presented via something like a PowerPoint presentation, you might format or position things like text and visualisations differently than you would if it’s intended to be viewed as an email, or printed off and read as a hard copy.
What Content Should be Included in Business Intelligence Reports?
Business intelligence reports can include written statements of fact, but more often they are made up more predominantly of various forms of data visualisation such as charts and graphs. The key thing to remember when it comes to determining a report’s content is that whatever you include should be based on values taken from at least one of your real world data sources, relevant to the report’s target audience, and easy for them to understand.
Business intelligence reports are a potent resource that businesses can use to unleash the power of their data. Decision-makers can rapidly make educated choices by using the real-time, precise insights into their business’ data and operations that business intelligence reports provide, and this improved decision-making ability can also increase operational efficiency and productivity. Lastly, don’t forget that with today’s technology, any business can leverage the power of business intelligence reports to gain a competitive advantage, it’s not limited only to big names and multinational corporations.
More About TouchstoneBI
Touchstone Business Intelligence is a leading UK-based provider of business intelligence support and advice to clients across the globe. If you need help with anything from developing an initial business intelligence data strategy, to implementing a business intelligence solution such as TimeXtender or Microsoft Azure, or even supplementary supporting services such as management, maintenance and upkeep of those systems, or advice on how to use the cloud for business intelligence – our team can help you. Feel free to take a look around our website to learn more about each of the individual services that we offer, or contact us to talk about them in person.
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