Know Thy Business

Andrew Badham 2016-06-23 13:18:20

From the writings of Plato to modern philosophers, the concept of "know thyself" has echoed through the millennia. How can we seek to understand the complexities of the world if we cannot yet understand the depths of ourselves? Thankfully, science and data have given man insights into his inner workings that no amount of introspection could have revealed. The sheer amount of data we can capture on thousands of other people throughout the world is the fundamental key to our insights. Of course, wherever there is innovation, business must find a way to utilize it. It has become exceedingly apparent to businesses that in order to function optimally they must have a clear understanding of their entities. How do their customers actually behave? How do they add value? How efficient are their operations?

Only once businesses have this insight can they begin to work towards making themselves as profitable as possible. And so hunt for data begins. There are many sources of information relevant to businesses, databases, spreadsheets and many others. Collecting this knowledge is difficult in its own respect, but simply collecting knowledge is not enough to draw insight. In order to have a clear understanding of what the information is telling a business, it needs to be comprehensible to a human. The problem is humans don't do so well with vast numbers and abstract concepts. We need to see the subject matter in visually stimulating formats so we can process the information in front of us; so we can make decisions.

Yet again, technology has come to the rescue. Software products like Excel have features such as dashboards which help us to understand data from our spreadsheets. The only problem is, what if the information we're trying to show comes from multiple sources? The list of possible sources is diverse. Social media, data warehouses, and big data are just a few of the sources we can draw from. That's where a product like Power BI really comes to the fore. This tool from Microsoft allows anyone, from PAs and line managers to dedicated business analysts and knowledge workers, to collate and display important information. Power BI also makes it easier to share knowledge, so everyone has the same version of "the truth". The truth doesn't remain stagnant either, information in a business changes on a regular basis and a business needs to remain up to date or risk losing touch with itself. Power BI makes adjusting and adding information to reports quick and easy, helping the business remain adaptable. The true beauty of this product is that anyone remotely proficient in Excel can use it. That means no more waiting for the IT department to get the job done.

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