Real-time Business Intelligence: Meaning and Importance

1.0 Introduction

The business world is increasingly more competitive, and especially today more than ever before. Only companies with the best business intelligence techniques stand a chance to succeed. Whether yours is a start-up or an established firm, you need to adopt real-time business intelligence to make crucial decisions within a very short time and get access to data in one place within seconds.

So this is it: real-time business intelligence provides support for instant decision-making and this is important for every company. For example, for an e-commerce company that sells bags online, the company representatives need to have access to real-time data concerning inventory levels. With this, if a service consumer places an order for a bag of a particular size and color that has just been sold out, such customer can be redirected to another similar item instantly.

Here at Axual, we have built expertise in real-time business intelligence which has placed us in a good position to help you. Therefore, we have taken out time to explain every detail about this new solution and the benefits it offers. Relax and read further, it’s all about the growth of your business.

2.0 Real-Time Business Intelligence vs Traditional Business Intelligence

Real-time business intelligence is a new approach to data analytics that allows enterprises to get data in real-time through direct access to operational systems. This new innovative solution provides businesses with a timely data-driven analysis that’s needed for both tactical and strategic decision making within the enterprise.

Business Intelligence (BI) refers to the technology that collects, presents and analyses data. It involves different applications used for the analysis of business information and techniques for different activities in just one central location.

Real-time BI is a highly visual, human-oriented data exploration experience that makes use of fresh, constantly developing data. Therefore, it should not be confused with real-time activity monitors. As in the case of the best traditional, Business Intelligence solutions, real-time business intelligence also allows you to explore and interact with data through the creation and reconfiguration of charts, graphs, zooming in, custom calculation and drilling down to detail.

However, unlike traditional BI, real-time business intelligence can handle and process massive amounts of data, even while fresh data continues to roll in. This simply means that companies can utilise their live data to do new things. Such activities may include increasing sales through event-based marketing, responding more accurately and quickly to public health crises, and managing financial portfolios in real-time.

2.1 Limitations of Traditional Business Intelligence

Traditional business intelligence is built and packaged in batches. It doesn’t allow for high velocity or a high volume data. It also has significant performance problems with large data sets. Most traditional business intelligence expects arbitrary query extracts before users can visualise data. Getting that initial query and dealing with the changes can take forever and frustrate users. Although IT experts try to address this issue by extracting data periodically from big data systems and transforming it in batches such that it becomes more consumable, the approach is not seamless. Today, more types of data are springing up, therefore, it’s important to have more resources to manage data transformation. A batch-oriented process cannot help businesses handle data in real-time.

2.2 Real-time Business Intelligence Provides a Way Forward

With the fast pace that the world is moving, both humans and machines need to think fast. The new approach is for businesses to think of data in streams rather than seeing it as a collection of data snapshots. This is easy especially if businesses get experts in data science like Axual involved. Think of it, even historical records can be presented as a stream. For instance, sales transactions are carried out at points in time, you can use real-time Business Intelligence platforms to visualise such transactions over time while you filter and enrich the data.

Let’s get it right, no amount of modification to traditional BI systems to make it accommodate streaming data can work well. This is the case because such modification requires a compromise that will ultimately affect scale, complexity, and performance.

3.0 Importance of Real-time Business Intelligence

Every organisation is looking for ways to maintain their competitive edge and improve performance. A high number has recognised the importance of real-time business intelligence in the quest for business survival in this dispensation. Although some organisations question the benefit of real-time BI, the fact remains that most businesses in sectors like transport, finance, health, manufacturing, telecommunication, security, and many others need it. Such industries understand the clear meaning of accessing data in minutes or even seconds and how any delay can cause big damage.

The importance of real-time business intelligence to be discussed here will be categorised as performance-based and revenue-based. That is, some of the benefits of real-time BI directly lead to an increase in operational efficiency and business performance while some directly lead to an increase in revenue.

3.1 Increase in Operational Efficiency and Business Performance

1. Proactive Reporting and Analysis

In the past, analysis and reporting were carried out based on scheduled intervals, such as monthly, weekly, or quarterly, with key performance indicators every month or week. However, this reactive approach does not fit into today’s unpredictable global economy. Making decisions based on data that’s month-old can have a huge negative impact. Meanwhile, managers need access to relevant and reliable information for the business. Traditional reports on a more frequent schedule may provide some of this information, but finding the right data within a sea of static reports, spotting opportunities, and identifying trends at different periods are time-consuming and laborious activities. They can take days or even weeks thereby rendering the data obsolete. Real-time BI will put an end to that. It gives you the ability to access real-time data with just a few clicks and immediately identify your current business performance against key indicators. Of course, this is a requisite for businesses to make decisions about the future. With real-time BI, you will have confidence that the decisions you make today, in response to the changes in your industry and/or input from consumers, are based on reliable and up-to-date business information.

2. Improve Business Plans and Provide Quick Insights

Real-time BI allows business executives and managers to get powerful insights from data within a glance. Through the quick data analysis, you can find hidden behavioural patterns and trends of the business. These insights also help you to discover new market opportunities and make necessary plans for your business to utilise such new opportunities and invest your money better.

3.2 Increase in Revenue and Higher Competitive Edge

In the end, making a profit is the ultimate goal of every business. It’s great to inform you that real-time business intelligence directly leads to a tremendous increase in revenue and a competitive edge. The list below shows how this works.

1. More responsive and transparent relationship with customers

When you maintain a relationship that’s more responsive and transparent with your customers across all channels, there will be an increase in retention rates thereby driving up your revenue.

This is not an assumption, there are many academic studies and industry research that show that B2C and B2B customers now expect to get real-time responses to their transactions and requests. Tech giants like Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are already meeting these expectations. Any business that wants to flourish must embrace real-time business analytics as it drives competition and revenue. According to research by MarketingProfs, 1% of customers who return to a site increases overall revenue by almost 10%. The study projects that if online marketplaces and retailers can retain 10% of their existing customers, they will double their revenue.

2. Predictive Analytics for Loss Prevention and Price Optimisation

By 2021, Forbes reported that not less than 75% will like to invest in predictive analysis for price optimisation and loss prevention. As you know, retail is one of the most highly-competitive industries today. Forbes noted that real-time BI will drive greater accuracy in key retailing areas like centralised customer data, market analysis, and customer segmentation.

3. Real-time analysis of customer suggestions and product line extensions

Oftentimes, it’s a company’s greatest critics that help it get effective ways to improve existing products and deliver the best ideas for new ones. Using real-time analytics for warranty repairs and rejected products is a great source of new ideas to improve. This can make critics to indirectly become collaborators when it comes to the successful launch of new revenue strategies and new product development.

4. Defining Best Possible Product Configurations

When you use real-time BI to define the best possible product configurations, it will help accelerate sales cycles thereby leading to greater revenue. As you already know, the sales team often stays with the most popular product options and configurations when creating quotes for existing and new customers alike. Real-time BI gives sales teams guidance on even a little shift in product configurations, cross-sells and upsells. Each of these has a great impact on revenue. By adding real-time BI to guided selling applications, you will reduce order capture errors and drive immediate revenue.

5. Reduction in Contract, Order and Quote Errors

With real-time BI, you will get guidance at every stage of creating quotes, service schedules, pricing, and contracts. The insights gained from customers through online channels can move the business world towards a revolution in how companies sell.

6. Change in Nature of Pricing Strategies

Real-time business intelligence is changing how pricing is defined, measured and implemented across sales channels and business units. This provides for a more accurate measure of price elasticity by timing of special discounts and sales channels.

7. Improve Service call Close Rates

Real-time business intelligence helps in improving service call close rates while also providing guidance on which services and products are best to cross-sell and upsell. Real-time BI in combination with location intelligence is causing a revolution in field service call management thereby leading to more closed service calls.

8. Better Demand Forecast to improve order performance

This is indeed one of the most valuable benefits of real-time business intelligence. It provides manufacturing companies with improved forecasting accuracy as well as corresponding delivery dates. When real-time BI is built into manufacturing systems, perfect order performance improves, costs decline, and revenue increases. This is already revolutionising the production centres from top to bottom. You don’t need to have worries about how to utilise real-time BI for better demand forecast as Axual can provide the necessary technical support.

4.0 Real-Time Business Intelligence Best Practices

Real-time BI best practices are some of the ways to ensure that you get the best results from using real-time BI tools. The best practices include the following:

  • Understand the value of data: The value of your data decreases as its age increases. Therefore, you need to know how quickly the change happens and utilise real-time business intelligence tools to optimise your information.
  • Have a strong infrastructure for your data: Once you collect data, it should be stored, scrubbed, and parsed. Having an effective data warehousing solution and organised data flow will greatly help you to get optimised results.
  • Collect the right data: Real-time business intelligence works best when you collect the most relevant data. Therefore, focus on the data that give you the most pertinent answers to every question that arises from your business. If you need any help with this, you can get in touch with Axual.

5.0 Who Uses Real-time Business Intelligence?

Today, real-time BI has become a great tool in virtually all industries and sectors. Below is a list of some of the industries greatly embracing real-time BI.

  • Logistics Companies: Real-time business intelligence helps logistics companies to better understand their workflows and supply chains as they evolve. This gives room for better decisions in case of emergencies like how to best modify a route for faster delivery or create more efficient chains.
  • Manufacturing sector: Manufacturers can collect real-time data from production chains and machinery. This enables them to improve productivity and efficiency as well as resolve any maintenance issues before they lead to full-blown problems.
  • The financial sector and banking industry: Banks face the challenges of rising competition, changing customer demands, and risk management. Real-time business intelligence tools will aid banks to leverage on incoming customer data to derive useful insights. Real-time BI will help in analysing trends and identifying patterns in real-time. With this, banks and financial firms have a flexible and transparent approach to make better financial decisions. Real-time business intelligence simply provides visualisation of a bank’s current data.
  • Health Sector: Emergency medical systems are among the most essential systems in the health sector as they involve different activities which are carried out from the time of the call for ambulance service till the time of patients’ discharge from the emergency department. The use of leading-edge business intelligence tools is important in facilitating real-time extraction and visualisation of useful insights from the huge amount of data about the management of emergency cases.
  • Risk analysts can take advantage of real-time data to continuously make modifications to their risk models and make better decisions on insurance, loans, and different financial decisions.
  • Customer relationship management suites can make use of real-time data to give better service to consumers. This includes better engagement by channeling services and conversations towards consumers’ known preferences.
  • Inventory management: Real-time business intelligence allows inventory managers to see their stock rising and falling exactly as it happens. This helps them to make a better decision about which product to order.
  • E-commerce and online marketplaces etc.


6.0 Conclusion

In a few years time and beyond, real-time business intelligence will continue to increase insights to customer behaviour, drive business models and become a catalyst driving revolution in several industries including transportation, manufacturing, e-commerce, health, telecommunication, finance, etc. From the algorithms to the applications, companies of all sizes and ages will have the opportunity to capitalise on real-time business intelligence for growth.

Real-time business intelligence already has a massive impact on revenue globally. With access to key performance indicators and advanced analytics models, managers and executives can get a clearer picture of their business, make better decisions, and diagnose any problem properly.

Your business should not be left behind in the growth opportunities offered by real-time business intelligence. Therefore, get started right now with experts like Axual, it takes just click.

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