Why modern BI is a necessity in a post-pandemic world

This is a guest blogpost by Jay Heglar, Chief Business Officer, Domo.

Contagion rate. Hospitalisation rate. Case fatality rate. We are now seeing the start of a new era where data takes a central role in organisations and in the public eye. The use of data became paramount during the past year, enabling us to understand, in near real-time, the patterns in which coronavirus was spreading around the world, the effect it was having on global economies, and the rate of vaccine roll out.

Similarly, many business leaders shifted the onus onto data to monitor changes in supply and demand, leveraging business intelligence (BI) to steer their organisation through the challenges imposed by the pandemic.

Although business intelligence has become an essential tool in these times of crisis, Covid-19 has also exposed the cracks in current BI processes. A growing number of organisations are asking whether their existing BI tools can keep pace with the rapidly evolving needs of their business. New research shows that more than half (53%) of business leaders are looking to upgrade or replace their current BI tool within the next 12 months. So, how can businesses adapt and thrive in the new normal?

Learning to adapt

While the shift towards digitisation was already underway, for many businesses, the pandemic has accelerated these initiatives. In the B2C market, this switch is clearly outlined by the marked change in consumer spending towards digital business. With companies like Amazon and Uber Eats seeing huge spikes in purchases, as many depended on them during the peaks of the pandemic.

This change in consumer behaviour has had a knock-on effect, propelling companies to rethink how they want to run their business in the new normal. A recent report from McKinsey, found that Covid-19 has forced companies to accelerate digitisation for customer and supply-chain interactions, as well as their internal operations by three to four years.

While traditional BI can provide valuable information to help companies make informed decisions about key issues, develop successful strategies, and improve performance using historical data. There are also numerous limitations that place severe constraints on the advantage it can deliver.

For example, traditional BI relies on sophisticated tools and highly skilled experts to run queries, analyse and interpret data so that it can be shared with business leaders, slowing down decision making. It also tends to focus on answering a relatively narrow set of mission-critical questions, providing key metrics that offer only moment-in-time snapshots of the business.

The issue with this approach is that fewer and fewer businesses fit the mould for traditional BI to operate. Companies everywhere are undergoing rapid change, driven by the pandemic, dynamic economy, evolving customer demands, and the widespread use of sophisticated applications, connected devices, and advanced technologies.

The pandemic has acted as a tipping point for businesses who struggled to keep pace and reinforced those who had already started to double down on digital transformation.

Where do future opportunities lie?

When it comes to the new normal, it’s those companies who executed successful responses to the crisis who are most likely to keep pace and stand out from competitors. Research shows that successful organisations report a range of technology capabilities that others don’t, such as filling essential gaps for technology talent during the crisis, the use of more advanced technologies and speed in experimenting and innovating.

These core capabilities are all underpinned by modern business intelligence (BI) which gives companies a collection of competitive advantages:

Efficiency advantage: Business can automate manual processes and streamline operations, resulting in greater speed, less waste and more focus on revenue-generating activities.

Customer advantage: Companies are given the tools to utilise customer data to monitor for shifts in demand and uncover emerging customer needs.

Agility advantage: They can also leverage data-driven insights to make decisions faster and act on them faster. They have built-in cultural flexibility to adapt or change course at any point, using data to predict the impact of events such as the pandemic on existing and future business operations

Being able to take intelligent action based on data-driven insights is the one thing that truly differentiates one business from all others. And that’s what modern BI is all about.

Unlocking new value from modern BI

Modern BI provides data agility, unlocking all your data (including dark data), with governed access to everyone in the organisation, empowering them to pursue their own queries and generate their own reports. Modern BI for all also frees your data analysts and IT professionals from routine BI tasks, so they can devote more time to strategic work that adds additional value to your business.

This new democratic approach to data also offers new levels of flexibility that make adding or changing items quick and easy. It heightens executives’ knowledge of the business by making real-time data that could be relevant to the business easily accessible, anytime and anywhere.

Another powerful aspect of the ‘modern BI’ equation is intelligent action. In essence, this relates to putting data to work in improved ways, moving beyond dashboards, with new workflows and writeback capabilities to modernise business processes. This could be leveraging intelligent apps to get data into the hands of everyone so that they can do their jobs better and improve business performance. Or using machine learning to predict emerging customer needs.

At Domo, our mission is to help our customers turn their data challenges into opportunities by delivering modern BI for all. While most companies recognise that data in the hands of a few experts can be powerful, the true transformation comes when data is at the fingertips of many. This is where speed, curiosity and innovation really thrive.

In an unpredictable world, modern BI technologies that unleash the power of data across an enterprise can bring a lot to the table. They allow organisations to understand the challenges they are facing, assess gaps in their systems and processes, remodel their business, make the best decisions, and support growth and profitability in the long run. Achieving these elements will be key to success and survival in the post-pandemic world.

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