Business Intelligence in 2021
What is BI?
Business intelligence (BI) simply put, is a way of extracting actionable insights from your organisation's data. You may be thinking, isn't that data analytics? Well yes and no, there are few differences between the two. As a general rule analytics is more targeted at analysing and predicting the future at an aggregated (high) level, whereas BI is for decision making and optimising decisions for immediate action at a granular (low) level.
Business Intelligence is evolving pretty drastically in 2021. Traditional BI uses data warehouses to answer questions that are defined ahead of time, which is strangely something that many people overlook. One of the first questions I would ask clients when building BI processes is “what do you want to know about your data?” At least 80% of the time the client would respond with, “what can the data tell me?”
The answer to that question is that given infinite time and resources your data can give you the answers to nearly every question you have, especially if you can tap into the dark data (untapped data) across an organisation. However that obviously isn't a realistic approach and as a result BI is driven by focused questions that the organisational data can answer.
How is BI implemented?
There are steps that organisations are taking to bring dark data online and to make it more accessible, however there is clear need for more organisations to use tools and software to make this process easier. This is one of the key focuses for us with Configur Codex. We are looking to bring many of the spreadsheets and systems that are siloed in different teams across organisations into a central repository that can be used by both individual teams and analysed/audited for BI purposes.
I want to quickly cover the traditional approach to BI, as many of the fundamentals are still the same even in more modern approaches. I should point out that there are various methods for building business intelligence processes, however, they all hang loosely off the same ideals.
Business Analysis: Establishing the questions requiring answers
Data Gathering: Finding the data sources available that can be used to feed the BI processes.
Data Analysis: Identify the data that can be utilised to answer the questions, linked and analysed
Data Reporting: Visualising and making the insights of the BI process easily consumable
Data Monitoring - Monitoring the outcomes following the actions implemented from the insights (KPIs and actionable triggers)
Data Warehouse (ETL) vs Data Lakes (ELT)
ETL stands for extract, transform load and as outlined above in the traditional data warehouse approach utilises structured and cleansed data to optimise reporting. With the emergence of data lakes the business analysis step of the BI process doesn’t have to come first. This has lead to the extract, load and transform approach being widely adopted.
Data lakes allow businesses to effectively “dump” a combination of structured and unstructured data into a central repository. The data is experimental and raw but it allows more freedom for data scientists to identify patterns and trends in the data and as a result uncover new insights that may have before been missed. Data lakes can also make use of streaming results from devices (IOT) or documents that can be later analysed by OCR (Optical character recognition).
There can be some highly advantageous outputs identified through analysing data lakes, however, there are positives and negatives for both approaches. Data Lakes can be a lot quicker to extract insights on the fly, but require more technical knowledge and a deeper understanding of data analysis methodologies. Data Warehouses can take longer to set up but presents the data so that it is readily available for reporting and analytics.
What are the advantages of BI?
Faster & More Accurate Reporting
Improved Data Quality
Improved Operational Efficiency
Better Business Decisions
These are just some of the benefits, but all of the factors ultimately enable businesses to either save time and money or generate additional revenue for their business.
Configur Codex’s Role
There is a consistent theme for both approaches and that is the requirement for good data governance and auditing of data. It is essential that there is an understanding of the data loaded into a central repository as well as things like latency and the metadata of the information available.
We wanted to provide data storage capabilities for businesses that provide day to day efficiencies and integration for staff, whilst incorporating BI capabilities quickly and affordably. This is especially true when compared to the costs and time of implementing an expensive and often over engineered solution via a data lake or data warehouse.
Configur Codex is a data platform that is a utility for your business, enabling you to work with your data in the way that you want to. We have incorporated many of the core data storage, security and collaboration principles but have packaged it within an easy to use platform, that does all the heavy lifting in the background, making day to day working seem a lot simpler. Layered on top of that we have a number of tools that unlock BI capabilities and wider integrations for your business, enabling Configur Codex to easily become part of your existing software suite.
If you want to talk to us more about BI or how Configur Codex can help your business, please don’t hesitate to reach out and speak to one of our consultants.
book a demo