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Using Business Intelligence: Q&A

Q: How do you define Business Intelligence? 

A: Business Intelligence (BI) refers to the people, processes, and technology utilized to analyze data and present actionable information that helps executives, managers and other end users make informed business decisions. In layman’s terms, the BI team works to make sense of organizational data such as acquisition, growth and retention rates of clients. The insights gained can give businesses a competitive advantage.

Q: How do you strategically employ BI in order to deepen client relationships or reach company goals?  

A: Operationally, it all starts with data. The BI team works to profile organizational data and understand the business rules and contexts associated with it. This allows us to take the data from its original state and make it accessible to our business line leaders. Working closely with all businesses and functions, we then leverage the data to identify opportunities to increase revenue and efficiencies and reduce risk and expenses. For example, working with relationship managers—and based on client feedback—we created a customized reporting solution that delivers ACH transaction details daily in Excel via email, streamlining operations for a number of Sterling clients. 

Q: What data is crucial for gleaning business insights? 

A: Truly, all data has the potential for such value. Since no two business questions are exactly the same, the BI team focuses on improvement in its process—capturing as much organizational data as possible, understanding its business context in order to properly store it for potential future use and simultaneously analyzing the tactical and strategic impact of each data set.

Still, the key factor is Sterling’s employees. Since BI isn’t intimately involved in business units’ day-to-day activities,  there’s a limit to the value it can add without significant input from those functional areas. Currently, our BI team is implementing a new toolset that supports self-service analytics—allowing employees to mine enterprise data using a “Google-like” interface. Ultimately, this type of enterprise-wide collaboration will provide significant insights into Sterling’s data assets.

Q: Look forward 5 or 10 years. What advice would you give to clients and colleagues and why? 

A: The insights and opportunities offered by managing and analyzing data grow exponentially every year thanks to ongoing technological advances. It’s critical that every organization dedicate technology and resources to gaining insights into its data. Clients that are intimately familiar with their critical data set help us to see how we can better serve them with additional products and services that support their business

At a broader level, some of today’s most successful companies—such as Google and Amazon—were built upon a foundation of data-driven decision-making. Companies that embrace that reality and recognize the possibilities will continue to grow and thrive, while those that ignore data or base critical business decisions on intuition may eventually become irrelevant and fade away. 

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