Business intelligence, or “BI,” is a phrase that’s frequently used, yet so often misunderstood. There is much uncertainty around how business intelligence benefits companies as well as how to use it. Is it an analytics program that provides reports? Does it incorporate sales performance tracking data so we can see the activity that ties back to the numbers? Does it integrate budgets, sales, prospects, and customer data? Does it provide insights for customer service and operational excellence? Essentially, it can be all of this and more, as we have learned.
The goal is to receive a comprehensive snapshot of intelligence about the state of the business, with enough detail to create a vision for moving ahead.
Defining Business Intelligence
To summarize business intelligence concisely, it’s the merging of software and services to transform data into actionable insights. This goes beyond analytics, to provide a deeper understanding by delivering insights that cause action to happen rather than just answering a question. These actionable insights will push you forward to strategize and find new, better solutions. CalTex has found this to be invaluable for their business.
Data, information and a solid BI strategy and system are paramount to gaining customer insights, giving a business the ability to analyze customer needs, behavior patterns, and buying trends. The tools are used to analyze data and provide back analytical findings by way of reports, graphs, charts, and dashboards. The goal is to receive a comprehensive snapshot of intelligence about the state of the business, with enough detail to create a vision for moving ahead.
Support and Facilitate Better Business Decisions
In companies throughout the automotive industry, there are large amounts of rich data available, though likely underutilized. In truth, millions and millions of pieces of untouched data exist, and one of the reasons to dedicate resources to using this data effectively is to help your customer, the agent, and, ultimately, the dealers.
You can make a commitment to become a data-driven decision-making company. Even easy lifts and accomplishments with data, can be directly related to sales having better actionable information on their books-of-business and leadership being able to make key decisions, with informative analytics and competitive insights. Internal departments having access to dashboards, queries, better reporting, and tools can improve performance across the board.
When data is used effectively, your company can look forward to improvements like:
- A robust company-wide reporting infrastructure
- Modeling capabilities for all organizational business functions
- Competitive analytics and overall industry analytics
- Revenue models and projected forecasts
- Product development insights, and go-to-market strategies
- Project management and best practice integration
- Marketing and customer relationship management strategies
- Easy-to-use, visually appealing dashboards and heat maps for your sales teams
Whether you are selling more cars, F&I products, or ancillary packages, you can close more leads with actionable insights. You will gain the ability to improve prospecting calls with all the information needed to turn a cold call into a warm lead. You can truly enable sales teams to have intelligent, meaningful conversations with prospective customers. Business intelligence data and reports will give you the ability to improve your selling strategy through personalization, market insights, and more by making the critical connections from insights to actions.
There are numerous benefits and advantages obtained by turning BI into actionable data. Imagine the ability to pull reports together quickly, without an exhaustive manual effort — being able to provide analysis, gather facts, and answer questions more quickly. These operational efficiencies and competitive advantages will improve your ability to make better informed business decisions, as well as improve overall customer satisfaction.
How to Leverage Data
After you commit to improving your BI, you will initially want to leverage data that can provide you with the following so that you can evaluate your business strategy:
- Current versus historical information: What’s going on in your business right now versus a comparison of previous months or years.
- Competitive benchmarking: The process of comparing your company against your competitors by using a set of collection metrics.
- Better understanding of your company (products, orders, stock, sales, across locations, and customer data) to drive efficiencies and improve customer engagement.
- Improve sales through behavior analysis and targeting.
Actionable data is information that you can act upon or provides you with enough insight to drive action. Actionable data is a direct product of business intelligence. Considerations to include are often what actions will facilitate a sale. Basically, what actions will drive awareness and consideration, and ultimately a sales conversion.
Understanding datasets, compiled and analyzed statistics, the marketplace, and consumer-based information through social media can give you everything you need to develop new products and get into the intricacies of the sale itself. Taking all that information, processing it, and creating useful tools for sales and the rest of the organization that examine market penetration is extremely valuable to your business.
Security is a Primary Concern
Understandably, of primary concern to consumers — your customers — is their privacy and data security. The General Data Protection Regulations was created as a direct response to consumers wanting to be in control of their own data because they are distrustful of how companies use and handle the data. Companies need to be mindful of these concerns, compliant with the regulations, and do everything they can to monitor and protect data entrusted to them, translating to vigilance around data privacy policies and strategies.
Business intelligence tells us how we can connect with our clients, better serve them and their customers, and helps us to promote products and brands. It’s essential to optimizing any business plan or strategy.
John Lapp is vice president of business operations and intelligence at CalTex.