People often talk about business intelligence (BI) as a monolithic topic across all companies and all industries. But that’s like saying anything across industries is identical. All companies may have issues of marketing, sales, product or service management, inventory, purchasing, and more, but it doesn’t make them all identical.
A simple example is looking at inventory at a manufacturer and a hotel. The main types of inventory for the manufacturer might be materials or components on one hand and finished goods on the other. Inventory can grow or shrink, depending on business. If sales are brisk, the company orders more materials and makes more products.
But for a hotel, inventory refers to the number of rooms available on any given night. There’s a fixed total number, which can only be augmented by additional building, so not something open to short-term increases. Instead, during historically high demand periods, prices rise. Depending on the sales channel, given inventory can have different prices.
When basic terms can have widely varying definitions, BI can’t be exactly the same because the data is inherently different. Although basic concepts are the same, the implementations will change with the industry. It’s why specific industries need specialized BI packages, and professionals in those industries should understand the differences from general BI and why they’re necessary.
For example, speaking of hotels, there are BI packages for hotels and resorts that have important considerations. Large hospitality companies may operate multiple brands across the entire country, or throughout a number of countries. And yet, the central company may not own all those properties. Instead, individual hotel operators license the brands. A BI system must be able to work with the brand IT systems, gather data from all of the operator’s properties, and provide results that give appropriate insights.
The banking industry has its own needs and BI software created to meet them. Packages have to consider both financial and banking performance. The financial part will examine overall use of assets, ratios of loans to assets and deposits, yields on lending and deposits, and non-performing assets. These are high-level views of basic fiscal activities. Banking performance looks at how branches, employees, or customers perform.
Healthcare provider BI must look at dynamics that include hospital inventory and turnover (similar in ways to hotels), use of materials (medicines and other products), levels of compensation based on contracts with specific insurance companies, and diagnostic information.
Being familiar with the offerings in a given industry will be important to attaining a position in that industry. But, more importantly, providing BI services in a given type of company requires specific information about how the business and industry work.
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