How we use Business Intelligence (Power BI)

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How we use Business Intelligence (Power BI)

As organisations want to understand their businesses better, more and more conversations are around Business Intelligence or BI.

The more meetings we have around BI, the more we realise that outside a specific scope of existing reports and data, owners and management aren’t really sure what other insights they need.

So inevitably, the question of how we use Power BI or Google Looker in our business is asked.

Here is one way we use Business Intelligence at Intuitive.

Client Rankings

Every business ranks its clients. Or so they should. Well, that’s what I’ve been told anyway. What I’ve seen at most businesses that do perform client rankings is that there is a spreadsheet with a list of client names, a few data points next to them and then maybe a formula in the end that spits out a number which in turn converts to a letter grade (A, B and C).

That’s basically how ours started. It was a very manual process to begin with, but now it is semi-automated. I retrieve the average days to pay and revenue from Xero. I pull profitability, ticket numbers and hours spent from our PSA/Ticketing system, and we fill in the other fields manually. This was good for a while, but I realised the spreadsheet was lacking in 3 key areas:

What I needed to see

  1. I couldn’t see our entire client base in one view
  2. I couldn’t see how our different plans affected profitability
  3. I couldn’t see trends in our client base

So I decided I needed to put this data into a Scatter plot chart with Rankings vs Profitability and colour coding the dots to our plans. With some key confidential information removed, this is what it looks likeHow Intuitive IT uses Power BI in our own business

With the data presented this way and some guidelines to highlight the minimums we are after, you can immediately start to see a picture develop.

  1. I can immediately see which clients are not hitting the thresholds we’ve set. This makes it easier for me to find those clients and reach out to them.
  2. I can see that most of those are clients that haven’t moved to our Managed Services model. They’re the ones in dark blue.
  3. It’s also justification that the clients that listen to our advice and actively protect and maintain their IT environments value their IT and allow us to be more profitable. This is a win-win and the kind of partnership we are looking for.

The Business Intelligence Question to Ask Yourself

Those familiar with our bi-annual survey will recall one key question. This question is what you should be asking yourself regarding business intelligence in your organisation. If you are interested in BI but don’t know where to start, I recommend you and your team complete the following question multiple times over

I could do my job better if I knew…

That’s exactly what I did. I found my notes, and my answers were

  • …our Managed Services plans were working for us
  • …which clients are costing us money
  • …and a few others I won’t publish here 😉

What is next for our Business Intelligence?

Well, there are a few things I want to do

  1. At the moment, this report is semi-automated. Generating some of the data takes hours, so I only update it quarterly. I’d like to automate the data collection to update it monthly.
  2. I’d also like to see how a client’s position on the plot has moved over time.
  3. I want to also aggregate based on industry. That could give me insights into which industries to target for future growth.
  4. What I really want to do is find the trends between the successful proposals. Is it in the text, in the number of phone calls, is it to down the type of clients accepting the proposals, or is it something else? I’d like to be able to distil this down. And we’d need something a little more powerful than a spreadsheet for that…

Using AI to provide insights

And this is the big one. Built right into Power BI is Desktop AI Insights. This is where you can:

  • Ask questions of your data. “What are common factors between all clients that are rated A”
  • Extract key phrases from unstructured data like documents, or emails to find trends
  • Measure sentiment from text to gain more insights from discussions

AI is going to change Business intelligence, but please remember you need to start here

I could do my job better if I knew…

About the author

Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.