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Harnessing the Power of Business Intelligence

Business intelligence software can translate masses of data into insights that drive better decisions—if you do it right.

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A few years back, Greg Dickinson, CEO of Hiperos, realized he had a problem. As a software-as-a-service provider to Fortune 500 customers like AstraZeneca, T-Mobile and Microsoft, Hiperos needed to provide outstanding customer service. Unfortunately, the system the company used to manage open service tickets was manual and slow. Whenever a corporate customer called in to ask how many tickets were open and the status of each, the customer service rep was forced to look up each one manually. “A Fortune 500 company is bound to have numerous inquiries that result in tickets, and their need to understand status is very important,” says Dickinson.

The business intelligence (BI) solution they chose, powered by Birst, now allows customer service reps to monitor tickets in real time, proactively taking care of those that have been sitting the longest and to pull up a customer’s information in seconds when on a call. On his own dashboard, Dickinson personally monitors whether customer service reps are hitting their goals of closing tickets in a timely manner and is able to look at that progress any number of ways. “The analytics lets me look at it by hour, by week, by month, by severity, by department—you name it,” he says, noting that today’s fast pace in business doesn’t allow for long waits for IT to throw something back over the wall. “Business has changed. The line of business is now empowered to do more. They’re closer to their customers. I, as a business user, need to be able to go in and get my own information. I don’t have months and months to let IT do it.”

That is perhaps one of the biggest changes to Big Data since the early 1990s, when database deployment and data mining exploded on the scene, en masse. Until recently, projects were largely initiated by and implemented for IT departments, rather than business, and the focus was primarily on eliminating silos and moving from departmental to enterprise programs.

That focus has shifted and the shift has led to a $14 billion global market for BI software in 2013—one expected to eclipse $17 billion by 2016, according to Gartner estimates. “What we’ve seen over the past few years is that a large part of what’s driving that growth now is the business user. The buying influence has shifted back to the line of business,” says Rita Sallam, vice president of research and BI expert with Gartner Group.

About C.J. Prince