If you’re running a home Internet business, naturally you want to give yourself the best chance of success. That’s where business intelligence can help.
So just what is business intelligence and why should it matter to you?
Business intelligence is a catch-all term covering a range of software applications that businesses use to analyze raw data.
It’s true that in the past business intelligence was the province of big companies who could afford plenty of data processing power, and a data analyst to go with it.
These days, business intelligence is becoming more accessible to business of all sizes, including sole traders and home internet businesses.
Give Yourself a Competitive Advantage
Since there have been businesses, business owners have been analyzing what works best. The old fashioned mom and pop businesses of yesteryear probably had a pretty good grasp of what sold well depending on the season.
As the article “Is Business Intelligence a ‘Force’ to Be Reckoned With?” points out, these days there’s no need to rely on guesswork. The technology exists now to collect and analyze information more accurately than ever before.
That’s good news for your business.
Accurate analysis of data means you can gain detailed insights into your business and your customers. You can then apply your new understanding to the way you do business in the future, constantly stream-lining and bringing your focus to what works best.
Start by Asking the Right Questions
You know that old adage that if you don’t like the answer you shouldn’t have asked the question?
That could be modified for business intelligence to say that if you want a good answer, you’d better ask the right questions. Thinking about what you want to learn and how you are going to learn it is key to success with business intelligence.
Say for example your business involves selling and shipping products from your home.
You might want to know which products sell best, and if there is any pattern to it, such as which products are most popular just before Christmas.
Once you have your question framed clearly, it’s much easier to figure out what data you’re going to need to answer it, and where that data is going to come from.
It will also help if you keep in mind the need for good quality data.
The better quality data you give your business intelligence software, the more likely it is to give you accurate, usable results that will make a difference in your business.
If you decide to start by analyzing customer behavior, for example, make sure your records are up to date with no duplicates and all relevant information present and correct.
Choose Your Tools
There are a great many business intelligence tools on the market today, so a certain amount of research is going to be required to help you figure out which one is best for you.
Start by asking yourself about:
• Resources – what kind of infrastructure will you need to run a specific business intelligence tool? There are quite a few Cloud-based business intelligence tools these days, which can negate the need to worry about infrastructure;
• Usability – as a business owner you wear a lot of hats, and for your business intelligence to be a success “data analyst” will need to be one of them. But it doesn’t have to be a struggle. Newer and more flexible business intelligence tools are much more user friendly than previous models, so you won’t need a degree in data analysis before you start;
• Results – check out how each business intelligence tool delivers its results. Good visualization will make it much easier for you to analyze the data you gather.
Business intelligence takes an investment of time and money, but the insights you gain and the power they give you to improve and grow your home Internet business make those investments worth your while.
Photo credit: Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
About the Author: Tristan Anwyn writes on a wide variety of topics, including social media, branding, business intelligence and home Internet businesses.