This article was first published on IronPlane.
When you are running a business, you need a system that can track sales, inventory, trends, and much more. This is where B2B business intelligence and analytics are important for your business. Business intelligence and analytics systems help analyze important sources of data to help you make informed decisions about your business. These systems can be used to streamline and grow your business, and ultimately make your B2B company more competitive and profitable.
Defining Business Intelligence and Analytics
Business intelligence and analytics refers to the practices, tools, and technologies used to collect and organize raw data about your business. Specific data collection methods include data mining, querying (or retrieving specific data from a database), online analytical processing, and reporting. The data collected through these processes can then be analyzed to help you track your business’ performance and guide planning. As such, business intelligence and analytics allows businesses to more easily make savvy, data-driven decisions.
There are three key elements to any business intelligence and analytics software:
• Structured data
• Analytics platform
• Dashboards, reports, and visualizations
Structured data exists within a file or record, such as a relational database. Sources of structured data could include a project management system, customer support, CRM, ERP, or a business’ own databases and data marts.
An analytics platform gathers and processes this structured data from one or more data sources. An analytics tool should be able to update automatically as data is updated at its source and display the data in easy-to-use ways, such as on dashboards.
Finally, dashboards, reports, and visualizations display data in a way that provides useful information about a business, such as sales trends, KPIs, benchmarks, and other factors that are relevant to business objectives and processes. For B2B companies, data on factors such as pipeline status, conversion and hit rates, new leads, and sales revenues versus budgets might be particularly useful metrics to display on dashboards.
Dashboards can also produce visualizations, such as tables and charts, that can help potential investors, shareholders, or anyone else easily and quickly understand this information. Visualizations can also be placed in reports to convey information more efficiently. Additionally, dashboards provide users with different ways to explore the data, including viewing data at a more granular level and comparing different metrics.
Why Use Business Intelligence and Analytics?
Business intelligence and analytics can contribute to your B2B organization’s productivity and profitability in a number of ways:
• Keep up with large amounts of data: Traditional methods of collecting business-related data, such as manually tracking data in a spreadsheet, can take up many employee hours and resources. Additionally, once these spreadsheets have been created, they will need to be manually updated to reflect the latest information. As your business grows, you will need to collect more and more data and it will be difficult to keep up. Business intelligence and analytics allows you to easily track and understand relevant data, freeing up your employees’ time to focus on other aspects of the business.
• Develop leads: It is important for B2B organizations to track information that is gathered about leads and existing customers. Business intelligence and analytics can help keep track of information you have accumulated about your leads and customers and help you use that information to drive leads through the sales funnel.
• Derive insights about customers: Business intelligence and analytics can facilitate tracking key metrics about your customers and their experiences using your website, such as customer service experience, time spent on the site, the number of abandoned carts, and other metrics. This data helps product managers analyze and compare customer behavior more efficiently.
• Easy-to-use interface: By taking raw data and presenting it in easy-to-understand and -use formats such as dashboards and visualizations, business intelligence and analytics systems present actionable business information even to those who have not received extensive training on data management and analysis.
• Communicate and meet goals: Tracking information about your business allows you to develop metrics to see how close you are to meeting your goals and what steps can be taken to improve performance. Communicating relevant metrics through dashboards can help employees understand their own contribution toward these goals and allow managers to track each employee’s progress toward their individual goals. As employees move closer to and meet their targets, you will be able to easily see their progress and reward them appropriately, providing them with additional incentives to meet those goals.
• Increase Return on Investment (ROI): Every dollar your company invests in intelligence and analytics is likely to yield increasing returns. These investments can lead to improved operational efficiency, reduced need for hardware and IT services, reduced employee time spent on analytics, and other factors that can, in turn, increase your business’ efficiency and profitability.
Consider Magento Commerce, an eCommerce platform, for your B2B company’s business intelligence and analytics needs. Magento has a number of analytic and reporting tools that can enable you to grow your B2B company. Magento Commerce consolidates data in a single location and allows you and your employees to access sales numbers, customer analytics, and other critical data from anywhere there is an internet connection. The platform’s user-friendly report-building tools allow you to create reports with graphs, diagrams, and charts to provide visualizations of trends and other key data that is useful for developing a deeper understanding of every aspect of your business.
Magento Business Intelligence (BI) is available in the lighter Essentials or more heavy-duty Pro versions. This is an analytics tool with a customizable cloud-based warehouse that allows you to merge multiple data sources in one place. Magento Business Intelligence Essentials delivers more than one hundred out-of-the-box performance reports and includes dashboards that are specific for B2B merchants. Magento Business Intelligence Pro connects and consolidates data from third-party sources, pulls data directly from a CRM database, and is fully customizable.
Reach out to Iron Plane’s Magento-certified developers and book an appointment today to learn more about how business intelligence and analytics can help grow your B2B company.