Business Intelligence is becoming crucial for UK businesses

The modern, digital business landscape thrives on data like lifeblood. That’s not to assign any value to data in a vacuum – it takes a sophisticated, always-evolving system to collect and label data behind the scenes before arranging it in a way that we can make sense of.

For UK companies, these business intelligence (BI) systems are increasingly important to success and enable all manner of businesses to suddenly gain the context and insight that data is meant to deliver.

BI is the way that UK firms have taken large data sets collected through their digital processes and user touchpoints, and turned them into visualizations and explanations, projecting them to desktops and mobile phones belonging to individuals throughout the organisation. These could be anything from charts on customer behaviour or costs per lead to revenue drivers and risk analysis, all delivered on-demand at an individual level.

The UK is working smarter, and the trend is going in profound directions with financial results that are equally so.

UK Businesses Boom on BI

A “Tech Impact” report from IQBlade in 2019 took an in-depth look at the data science methods practiced by leading UK firms, and discovered direct evidence that business intelligence systems had given many a direct advantage over ill-equipped competitors.

In terms of average annual sales, UK companies that mobilized any sort of business intelligence platform in the prior year had enjoyed £15 million more each year than those that didn’t integrate. BI platform-using companies earned £39 million versus £24 million by the average firm which neglected to upgrade or install any BI solution.

That simply makes sense. When relevant data is displayed in a digestible format for those who demand it, everyone does their job better. Expanding this revolutionary capability across a whole company is powerful and has only now reflected in the financials of publicly traded UK companies, with the report highlighting an 8% year-over-year advantage for BI-forward firms.

Though the report focuses largely on BI, it also mentions that domestic UK firms have invested heavily in app development and productivity solutions. It just goes to show that a taller tech stack can accompany taller revenues.

To read some more interesting commentary about why the UK needs BI today more than ever, check out this article.

How is BI deployed in the UK?

Regardless of where a company is, BI tools are always built around the specific problems facing them—and them alone. Price Waterhouse Cooper’s analysis of a National Health Service foundation trust illustrates that UK companies with more than £1 billion annual turnover have a lot to love about BI as do small businesses.

The NHS, which provides health services and patient care for a large swath of the UK population, was choking on an aging data infrastructure that was growing wildly out of control, as hundreds of clinics and offices fed it via unruly Excel sheets, emails, and more. PwC’s integration of a company-wide BI system consolidated these sources of data into a smarter warehouse, improving access to data by making it possible for employees to query reports on-the-go.

Another excellent example of business intelligence comes from London-based GoCardless, a direct debiting service that helps over 40,000 UK businesses onboard payment services, accelerate the Know-Your-Customer process, and connect with banks. Operating at the upper level of the UK’s financial sector, employees of GoCardless needed on-demand access to reports that its legacy filing service wasn’t capable of providing.

As GoCardless grew, the inability to scale turned into a weight on the company’s business intelligence team, which needed relief fast. They installed a self-service BI solution that 95% of GoCardless employees now use daily, saving four whole days per month that are now spent more productively.

Business Intelligence is a fitting name

Any modern business now generates data whether it knows so or not. Ironically, data itself has also shown that businesses which ignore this fact are proven to be less profitable. It’s a hard pill to swallow for some, but business intelligence tools now come in infinitely more accessible formats, making it easy to “plug and play” even for those who just discovered the pile of data in their company’s closet.

An embedded analytics suite, for example, is designed to meld seamlessly with tools you’re already using. UK business owners are suddenly finding that if they put relevant and organised data a finger’s length from their employees, they’ll reach out and grab at it.

The implications for UK businesses in the future are significant. By the conclusion of next year, it’s likely that figures illustrating the growth gap between BI-invested and BI-deprived companies will be much wider. There are many lessons to be learned, but the most important is that BI isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It must begin with questions about the types of information employees in your firm require to work intelligently.

The nature of business intelligence is fluid, and those in the UK who have managed to harness it are standing out.

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