FirstEval-Melissa Kovacs


Who Needs BI? Lawyers, Realtors, and Cupcake Bakers!

Business intelligence (“BI”) can help businesses find meaning in their customer and client data.  Simply stated, BI is the analysis of your business’s data to see patterns and trends among customers, clients, accounts, financials, and your market.  BI involves applying these analytic findings to guide business decisions.  Numerous BI tools exist to help you better analyze and see your business’s data.

I’ve previously touted the importance of BI for local governments, and certainly don’t want to exclude my friends in the for-profit world.

In a Data Science Central blog post, “5 Industries that Need Big Data,” Larry Alton notes that businesses from law firms and CPA firms to the real estate industry can increase profits and better target their marketing with BI.  By analyzing case and billing data, attorneys and CPA firms can better structure fee arrangements to increase profitability.  Also, attorneys can use historical similarities across case matters to guide current case strategy, along with numerous other uses for BI like in this example.

Realtors use market data to inform their own marketing strategies, and to better inform potential clients of neighborhood-level market trends, like on this site for South Scottsdale.

And, here is a delicious example of a bakery using their broad customer database to target their marketing, understand customer spending trends, and view seasonal trends.  Mmmm cupcakes…

Some pretty amazing (and sophisticated) tools exist to analyze business data, such as R, SAS, and SPSS, to name a few.  Once analyzed, the fun part is turning new-found nuggets into a picture.  Other BI tools that excel at interactive data visualizations include Oracle BI, Tableau, and Spotfire.  Creating data dashboards and visualizations, the end product that will drive better business decision-making, is an art and science unto itself.  Two leaders in blogging about visualizations that I love to follow are Stephanie Evergreen and Jonathan Schwabish.  And, if you want to see a professional review of the BI tool marketplace, Gartner has a thorough description of BI tools in its Magic Quadrant series that can be found here.

The right BI analytic tool can find business meaning in your client and financial data, and the right visualization tool can turn the non-data savvy professional into an on-the-fly data analyst.

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