Data, on its own, is next to useless. Raw data consists of a bunch of numbers that only the most dedicated mathematician would appreciate. It is not until it is converted into information that data becomes useful. This is where Business Intelligence (BI) Tools come in.
As a tool for decision making, BI Tools gather data culled from several sources and convert it into information that managers can use to make better informed decisions. Depending on the tool and the application, a BI Tool can present information to a manager in an easily recognizable format such as graphs, charts, tables, and other visual representations of data that will serve as guides.
BI Tools come in the form of spreadsheets, reporting and querying software, online analytical processing tools, digital dashboards, data mining, process visualization, data warehousing, and local information systems.
How to encourage use of BI Tools
The age old question of whether to use a carrot or a stick to encourage the use of a new tool applies here.
While using rewards and incentives for using these tools may work, these have proven ineffective in the long run, with managers eschewing modern and unfamiliar technology for gut feel about the industry. Punitive measures, no matter how onerous, have only worked in the short term, with managers ceasing use of BI Tools as soon as upper management eased up on the pressure to use them.
What proved effective in the long run was making managers understand the need for BI Tools to better comprehend and grasp trends and processes in the industry, the ability to see changes in data at a glance, where gut feel and intuition are replaced by objective data and informed decision making. Managers need to understand that in this modern day, it is important to make the right decision at the right time, something that instinct and experience can not provide them.