Business intelligence tools are types of application software that collect and process large amounts of unstructured data from internal and external systems, including books, journals, documents, health records, images, files, emails, video and other business sources.
Businesses of all sizes require optimum utilisation of resources to accomplish desirable performance. They need to track assigned or unassigned tasks, respective progress, deliveries, payments, feedback, existing and potential customers, invoices and so on. These are some of the fundamental operations that require utmost attention to achieve business growth.
Adopting business intelligence tools can drastically improve the efficiency of business operations. With such tools businesses can achieve proactive sales operations, exceptional customer support and persistence in meeting deadlines. Undeniably, companies need more than just manual intelligence to manage all tasks efficiently. Business intelligence tools make it simple for team leaders to track projects handled by their team members in addition to helping employees manage their work.
Most tools have access rights to control visibility of data to ensure data integrity. These tools are capable of integration with analytic tools to generate comprehensive reports and create widget-based dashboards to view data within the tools.
In this technologically-advanced modern competitive world, it is imperative to constantly stay in touch with customers and build long-lasting relationships to survive in the market. Considering different business operations, a few standalone tools can help in managing specific areas of a business and a few enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools that can help manage multiple operations.
Project management tools
A team leader usually has multiple team members, and sometimes all of them are working on different projects. It can be difficult to keep a track of all projects, respective deadlines, delivery dates, invoices and other reminders. Project management tools enable a team leader to keep track of everything on one platform.
Such tools allow team leaders to create and assign tasks, deadlines, track unassigned tasks and so on with one tool. Customisable dashboards enable them to create an intuitive and understandable interface for efficient task management. They can also set up a workflow to get validations at different levels and automate emails to concerned teams.
For HCL Technologies, Zoho Projects has proved to be the most efficient cloud-based project and bug tracking tool for them. The company has benefited from its availability on cloud, which enables project managers to access it even while travelling, for keeping track on resources and project timelines. HCL has even recommended the tool for project tracking to some of their clients.
Scoro is another project management tool. Aesara Partners, a UK-based consultancy, claims to have saved 30 per cent time on managing work. It moved from Excel to Scoro, replacing many manual processes. Quality control of service more than doubled, which resulted in increased efficiency and profitability. The firm saved 100 per cent time in accessing live reports by utilising real-time dashboards.
Survey and review tools
Organisations can create a set of questions and send it to their targeted audience to collect feedback or analyse the market scope of a product or service. There are various free and paid tools available in the market, using which they can analyse their net promoter score (NPS) and market reputation by sending a survey to existing and potential clients. They can upload a mailing list, design a survey website, add questions, send the survey and report on responses.
Brazil’s Tam Airlines used Survey Monkey to improve employee satisfaction. It regularly surveyed employees whose job was to simply enter the responses to various surveys and found that they had problems with speed, accuracy and reporting. Survey Monkey replaced the slow and tedious paper survey and automated the process of interviewing experiences, training subjects, town hall meetings and exit surveys.
These are similar to survey tools with one additional feature. Reviews are automatically sent to search engines such as Google or Bing, and can be searched by potential customers. These tools help in building trust with customers.
Staysure.co.uk, a UK-based travel insurance company, has established long-lasting relationships with its three million policyholders in the last ten years. The trust it has established with its customers is reflected with over 30,000 five-star reviews from Trustpilot (a review tool)—this is more than any other travel insurance provider. Its team now pulls data-driven reports from Trustpilot’s tool to identify the most common customer complaints and prioritise new solutions.
Business growth requires customer retention and a proactive approach towards potential customers. This can be accomplished using customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Such tools can help businesses identify potential sales opportunities and increase customer retention. CRM tools also enable users to create customers’ query tickets, set up tasks for follow-ups and improve accountability in employees as all actions can be audited.
Salesforce is one such solution for large organisations. However, small- and medium-sized organisations do not need a solution with these many features. For that reason, there are other affordable solutions.
360 Payments, a Silicon Valley company, uses Pipedrive CRM tool and has successfully scaled its net income by 298 per cent, new accounts by 26 per cent and gross revenue by 40 per cent. The company has achieved such impressive results with fewer employees. To expand the business in other locations and track sales individually from each location, it was able to achieve it with Pipedrive Platinum.
Smartpress Chanhassen, USA, uses Cooper CRM and has reduced its contact creation time by 90 per cent. Smartpress also claims that before Cooper, the company was losing 25 per cent of its leads because of delays in follow-ups. Now, tasks are automatically assigned and conversion rate has significantly improved.
If an organisation has multiple departments and all are using different tools, then there is a need for ERP tools. Such tools can be integrated with various other tools and display data on one platform. Users can monitor finances, resources, sales and inventory within one tool.
ERP tools ensure that data from all tools gets updated on a single platform. These integrate core business processes to streamline communication, business transactions, effective database management and strengthen customer relations. Such solutions are highly-customisable and can be implemented in any workflow.
Akustica Inc., Pennsylvania, USA, is a manufacturer of silicon microphones that improve voice-input quality in consumer devices. The company needed visibility and control over inventory and processes that spanned in-house and third-party factories and warehouses in the US, Europe and Asia. It uses NetSuite to manage its supply chain and financial operations. Real-time data integration has improved performance of and visibility into a geographically-diverse supply chain. Akustica has achieved greater accuracy, ensuring auditability with NetSuite. Analysing real-time data from across the supply chain has enabled the company to continuously improve processes and position itself for growth.
Toyota Handling Materials, France, has a factory in Italy and wanted proper acknowledgement and delivery of orders. It aimed at organising the production or purchase of the right trucks from the right business units abroad and, subsequently, organise shipment and invoice for customers. It started using Odoo Sales, Odoo Inventory, Odoo Manufacturing and Odoo Purchase. These are multiple apps under the umbrella of Odoo ERP tool. The main benefit of Odoo is short implementation time, and even for a complex project, the company was ready within a few months.
There are various other tools available based on different business requirements, company size, etc and many offer a free trial. These tools can make a profound difference in the way business operations are carried out in an organisation.