Business Intelligence Solution, Business Excellence

Exploring the relationship between Business Intelligence & Business Excellence – and how your business can use data to deliver measurable outcomes

The year 2024 marks a pivotal moment, with businesses seeking the best business intelligence solutions to gain a competitive edge. We live in a world defined by technological progress. This, along with the ever-growing ‘purpose economy’, has wrought drastic changes to the way we consume knowledge in 2024.

For one, the volume of data available to us is greater than ever – and growing exponentially. This has led to advancements in analytics and increasing competition for the best algorithms. Which, in turn, has begun to make data more accessible – and transformed it into a form the human mind can best understand. [1]

Yet technology’s rapid development has also posed problems.

Although businesses now have huge pools of data to draw upon, many lack the tools to unlock the insights beneath the surface.

For many businesses, this inability owes to a lack of sophisticated systems. Unable to use computational power to drive day-to-day processes, these organisations are getting left behind. [1]

So, how can your business make the best process management choices possible?

By arming yourself – and your business leaders – with all the right tools to make informed decisions.

Read on to learn more about business intelligence in 2024 – and beyond. And how to turn that into process excellence, operational excellence and, ultimately, business excellence.

Business intelligence (BI)

What is business intelligence (BI) Solution?

The concept of Business Intelligence isn’t new. Nor can it be narrowly defined.

Business Intelligence encompasses analytics, big data, and artificial intelligence (AI). If it contributes to the wider theme of digital transformation – of helping businesses adapt to the evolving demands of the 2020s – it’s Business Intelligence.

Business Intelligence is immensely important for executives in companies of all shapes, sizes and industries. [2] So what does it mean?

Firstly, Business Intelligence refers to the methods an organisation uses to produce useful information (or ‘intelligence’). It’s information that isn’t a critical corporate asset. But that is essential for surviving – and thriving – in the global economy. [3]

Secondly, Business Intelligence is the product – the end result – of a business’s data interpretation efforts. With this, companies can predict the behaviour of all general business environments. [3]

What do all the winning companies of the last decade have in common? They’ve all been ’Business Intelligence mature’ ([4] as cited in [2])


Big data: the case for business intelligence

We generate tons of data every day. So the presence of big data – in any business – provides an opportunity. A strategy, too – integrate big data with Business Intelligence Solutions to:

  • Improve decision-making processes
  • Uncover new business insights
  • Increase revenue
  • Reduce operating costs
  • Boost employee productivity [5]
  • Enhance business capacity

So – does business intelligence work? Let’s look to the statistics to find out.

89% of manufacturers with BI and analytics initiatives say they work…

… and that the technology has put them ahead of their peers.

Over 46% of businesses are already using a BI tool…

… and report that it’s now a core part of their business strategy.

85% of business leaders agree…

… that big data will significantly change the way they do business. [6]

Processes, patterns and people: developing a data-driven mindset

Data is the new currency. Whoever interprets the data best, wins – there are no shortcuts.

In today’s competitive and volatile business environment, firms must prioritise information-gathering to bolster their decision-making. [7] Of course, not just any information will do. To enable data-driven decisions, it must be:

  • Relevant
  • Reliable
  • Repeatable
  • Authoritative

The quality of the raw data matters. But the role of Business Intelligence involves what you actually do with that data. How you take those numbers and translate them into business transformation.
Business Intelligence tools equip you with insights into your management practices, including:

  • Project management
  • Risk management
  • Performance and process management

Business Intelligence can also solve an enormous variety of problems. Research shows that machine learning, for instance, can increase productivity – and even improve quality of life. [1] What’s more, its evolution appears exponential. Fuelled by increasing demand across industries, analytical and data science techniques are advancing each year. By enforcing the principles of the business intelligence maturity model – and harnessing the technological stack that comes with it – organisations can now tap into what Manikam, Sahibudin and Kasinathan [8] call a “big data analytics framework”. Yet the technology is only a part of it. To mine the deepest depths of the data, businesses also need to develop what Diplock, Roux and Meier [9] dub “a data-driven culture”.

“A data-driven culture makes data literacy (the ability to correctly interpret information) an organisational imperative, starting at the top.
“As data-driven maturity increases, decision rights can extend further down the organisation, reducing cost and turnaround time without impacting the probability of making the right decision.” [9]

Through this lens, data is as much about the processes as the people – about cultivating an environment where data maturity and a data mentality go hand in hand. With a data-driven mindset, you’ll understand your organisation’s numbers. You’ll be able to visualise trends and patterns; to draw assumptions from analysis.  And, as a result, make clearer, more informed decisions. Throughout all levels of your business’ hierarchy.

“The success or failure of companies over the next 10 years will be increasingly driven by how well they can take advantage of their data.
Despite the growing importance of data for supporting better decision-making and achieving competitive differentiation, many organisations have failed to realise its full transformative potential.” [10]

Process and operational excellence

“Businesses are made of processes. Enterprises strive for excellence in processes.” [11]

As a company grows, so too does the need for business processes – and for effective communication. Think about the classic ‘pyramid’ structure of an organisation. If any of the pyramid’s layers have communication issues, it’s impossible to have any form of functioning hierarchy. A lack of hierarchy makes operational processes difficult to initiate and implement.
Chaos follows. What’s worse, chaos in processes leads to poorer outcomes: both for your employees and your customers. If your customers can’t rely on you, the success and sustainability of your business suffers.
Which is precisely why consistent, cohesive processes are the key to excellence. But the big question remains. How do you build such processes?

The path to process excellence

Achieving process excellence is a journey. And it can be a long and costly one. But taking the time to identify – and eradicate – any process management issues in your existing operational setup could be the difference between long-term success and eventual failure. [12]

So it’s important to take action. When it comes to making the best process management choices, you need to arm your leaders with BI and data management. With these key tools – along with all the facts and figures at their disposal – they can make informed decisions. And create truly effective solutions.


The ins and outs of operational excellence

Operational excellence is – or, at least, should be – what your company is aiming for. But what does the term mean? Every company will, on some level, have a different view of it. This will depend on each business’s value drivers, culture, organisational behaviours, and the practices and tools available. [13] One useful tool for charting this course to meaningful organisational change? The operational excellence roadmap.

This process, as developed by DELTA Informed Decisions, encompasses:

  1. Understanding your strategic goals
  2. Mapping opportunities to improve
  3. Enhancing your data and technology practices
  4. Adopting effective processes
  5. Driving an intelligent CARR (Communication, Action, Risk, Relationship)

The steps of this roadmap to operational excellence should be a key part of your business’s long-term strategy. Aim to embed it throughout all aspects and arms of your organisation.

The operational excellence roadmap is as cyclical as it is linear. It’s a constant circuit of iteration and optimisation. Which means you’ll need to adapt and amend it along the way for the best outcomes.

Your organisation’s approach will depend on your specific strategic goals, approach and focus areas. No two roadmaps are the same. However, there are some essential components to build your transformative transition around: (Source: [14])


D Define Define the problem, scope and goals of your improvement project in terms of customer and/or business requirements.
R Review Map the current state of processes – and measure their performance.
I Investigate  Analyse the gap between the current and desired performance. Prioritise problems and identify their root causes.
V Verify  Generate improvement solutions to permanently fix root causes – and prevent them reoccurring.
E Execute  Implement the solutions and ‘sustain the gain’.
R Reinforce  Capitalise the improvement by ‘sharing lessons learnt’ and establish process re-assessment – to continuously improve.


One of the biggest mistakes your business can make? Creating policies that don’t correlate with your existing processes – and doing so in a rush. If your procedures aren’t written down, they might as well not exist. Alignment between policy, processes, and procedures is the true path to excellence.


Process excellence + operational excellence = business excellence. Here’s why.

What is business excellence (BE)?

Business excellence (BE) is about developing your management systems. It’s about strengthening your processes to improve performance – and create stakeholder value. As the name suggests, BE is about achieving excellence in everything your organisation does. Whether that’s in leadership, strategy, customer focus, information management, or people and processes, BE is about achieving superior results – consistently. [15]

“Business excellence is often defined as a set of outstanding business practices built around a core set of values reflecting the organisation’s vision and ethics.
“These processes ensure that flaws in business practices are ironed out to deliver excellence in business.
“Process models ensure delivery of business ethics and vision in every aspect of the business. The quest for excellence in business is achieved by ongoing reviews and fine tuning of the process models.” [16]

Baldrige Excellence Framework (Source [17])


So how can your organisation achieve BE? The answer lies within the values and concepts you identified earlier (when we explored the operational excellence roadmap). These concepts are the puzzles at the heart of your business. And if you want to achieve BE, you’ll need to solve them. Fortunately, the Baldridge Criteria [17] for Performance Excellence (pictured, below) provides an instructive place to start. We’ve broken down each step – and the key questions to ask your business.

First, examine your company’s governance system. How does it fulfil its legal, ethical and societal responsibilities? How does it support stakeholders?

Strategic planning
Next, evaluate your business’s strategic objectives and action plans. How are they being implemented? Who’s implementing them? How are you measuring progress?

Customer focus
It’s now time to look outward – to your customers. Are they being heard? How are you building your customer relationships? Are you collecting the right information? Are you using it to identify opportunities to innovate and improve?

Next, examine your workforce through a critical lens. Pay attention to your staff’s capabilities, needs and environment. Does it align with your company’s performance and targets? How about your strategy and action plans?

Operations focus
Finally, concentrate on your operations. Are your systems and processes concentrating on customer value? On your company’s success and sustainability? Is your business resilient in the face of emergencies?

The final touch
What’s left? What happens after you’ve gathered all the information from the above points? How do you unite these outcomes – and turn them into tangible business excellence? Well, before BE must come BI – excelling in business intelligence. You need to be able to measure, analyse and harness the knowledge you’ve collected. To use it as an asset. To do that, you’ll need the right suite of information technology tools: measurement, analysis and knowledge management. Don’t drain the data. Make it work for you.


From business intelligence to business excellence

Business intelligence and productivity: a match made in heaven

Business intelligence, as you’ll recall, means faster, more efficient and more accurate reporting capabilities. It allows your company to tackle issues quicker – which improves productivity.
But what is productivity, exactly?

‘Productivity’ is a buzzword. Business leaders throw it around a lot, in reference to a number of situations. As such, it’s a word with different interpretations – different meanings – across organisations.
Generally, though, when leaders talk about increasing productivity, they’re telling their employees one thing.

Do the same work – only faster!

As your organisation grows and becomes more complex, it becomes trickier to write and utilise business processes. After all, the human brain is, well…only human! And it can’t comprehend or process big volumes of data.

That’s why we’re living in the ‘boom’ of software firms. These companies are competing to create solutions that help businesses crack the nut of business excellence. [18] After all, automation is inevitable. So why not adopt the right software at the beginning – and save both money and time? The right business intelligence tool delivers reports and analysis faster. Putting you ahead of the competition. With these enhanced reporting functions at your disposal, you’ll be able to pinpoint your business’s specific challenges. And make targeted improvements – rapidly. What’s more, you can address problems immediately. And, in turn, avoid losing customers or seeing your operations slow down.

How business intelligence drives business excellence in: sales

Business intelligence solution for sales performance will assists you in providing:

  • Visualisations of the sales cycle
  • In-depth conversion-rate analytics
  • Total revenue analysis

BI helps your sales team identify what’s working, and where room for improvement lies. The result? Often, dramatically improved sales performance. [19] This enables you to make changes to further improve performance. To forecast more accurately. And react faster to the predicted ‘ups and downs’ of your industry and market.

How business intelligence drives business excellence in: customer engagement

Business Intelligence Solutions also empowers you to analyse customer data to:

  • Determine purchase patterns
  • Understand your customers’ preferences and needs
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Recognise new markets
  • Unearth customer growth opportunities

Take the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, for instance. This popular – nay, foundational – system lets you keep track of your customers from a single source. So it’s a fantastic example of how a BI tool can increase business productivity.

CRMs are designed to handle all your interactions: be they leads, deals or customers. Tracking these conversations and touchpoints results in a wealth of data.
Data your business can use for strategic initiatives: such as retaining customers or providing post-sale services.

How business intelligence drives business excellence in: manufacturing

With BI, you can track your manufacturing process in real time. For example, you can set up an alert to let workers know about production issues as soon as they begin to creep in. This allows staff to inspect the equipment – before it breaks down. This prevents equipment damage and production shutdown. Which, in turn, increases productivity. [20]

Smarter decision making: the recipe for business excellence

One of the key components of business excellence? Smarter decision-making processes. Better decision-making leads to better:

  • Team performance
  • Hiring policies
  • Operational processes
  • Understanding of customer and market trends
  • Customer acquisition and service
  • Risk management and mitigation
  • Knowledge of when – and how – to restructure

The next question, though, is how to do it confidentially. BI converts data into valuable insights that make your decision-making process clear and straightforward. It offers high quality analysis into your company’s finances, marketing, sales and operations. Meaning you can rely on facts – not assumptions or guesswork. (Or luck!)

With BI, you’ll be able to uncover business insights to improve the quality of your decisions. While also shortening the time you’d otherwise spend making the same decision. [21]

On top of this, BI provides you with real-time insights – allowing you to respond to commercial challenges instantly. By understanding your historical data alongside future forecasts, you’ll know where you’re at – and where you want to be. With BI, you and your employees can play around with different variables to explore how change will impact your business. And, through this, understand the implications of that change – or inertia.

The benefits of better management practices – and better Business Intelligence Solutions


As we established earlier, business excellence equals process excellence. Yet one of the main routes to achieving that process excellence is by adopting better management practices. This process can, unfortunately, be complicated and painful. Unless, of course, you use BI.

One project looked at 4,000 medium-sized manufacturing companies across Europe, Asia and the US. The study concluded that “improved management practice is one of the most effective ways for a firm to outperform its peers”. [22]

Another study involved around 700 similar businesses in the US, UK, France and Germany. It too demonstrated a strong relationship between management practice and firm productivity.

Management practices depend on a whole host of factors. (For example, a company in a more competitive sphere usually has more developed and structured management practices.) As such, they tend to vary widely. Even in the same firm.

That means you may require different practices to help your employees reach their potential. One thing that’s certain, though? Companies with advanced management practices are far more productive, innovative and profitable. [22]

What might these management practices look like? There are plenty to choose from, including: [23]

  • Setting economic incentives
  • Providing constructive feedback
  • Giving and showing respect
  • Training your management team
  • Providing support when needed
  • Using employee time-clock software
  • Increasing communication effectiveness
  • Setting clear and focused goals

So how exactly do you choose when your company needs better management practices? And which ones should you pick? The key is twofold: adopting better technology and investing in research and development.

With BI, you can take full advantage of the valuable insights that gathering, organising, analysing and reporting on business data provides. You can identify patterns; see trends; get to grips with your business’s prospects. By helping you understand how you can standardise your practices, BI allows you to grow faster. To be more profitable, productive and innovative. And, as a result, more likely to survive.
Leading US researcher Nicholas Bloom [24] concluded that manufacturing companies with processes, production targets, and employee performances are more successful.

“It’s pretty clear that you want to measure everything that happens in your business and continue to improve it. You want to reward success and address failures.” [25]

It’s important here to note the link between a business’s management practices and the productivity of its employees. Because, though all businesses are trying to improve the latter, very few are examining the former.

After all, nothing demoralises employees faster than seeing senior leaders act in a way they don’t respect. Conversely, few things energise employees more than working under leaders they admire.

Leaders are always being watched and judged. And employees have keen eyes (and are even keener data sharers). When leaders are “walking the talk”, it’s noted.

But so is “talking the walk” – without actually walking it. [26]

BI can help by indicating which areas – be they related to leadership, management practices, or both – you need to work on. And better management practices will trigger process development. Leading you to operational excellence; and propelling your business to reach its potential. Everything you do in business is a risk. But if you calculate it, you at least maximise your chance of success. And minimise your chance of failure.

The importance of Business Intelligence Solutions for communication and collaboration


Business Intelligence improves your company’s communication and collaboration – and helps develop a proactive culture. Often, data gets stuck in silos. Individual departments store everything separately, isolating information. In this environment, it’s difficult to develop any real insights – or get departments to talk to each other. How can anyone work together, towards a common goal? Once you start implementing BI, though, you start centralising – that is, collecting all your company’s data in a single repository. This forms a united block, thus promoting cross-departmental collaboration. With information sharing simplified, the ways departments use dashboards to understand data may change. But for the better.

With BI, you can assign tasks to employees not at random, but with a full understanding of their behavioural skills and work efficiencies. What’s more, employees can better prioritise deadlines and organise their workload. Reducing stress, frustration and burnout while increasing motivation and productivity. Better collaboration equals better communication. Which, in turn, results in a more proactive culture – company wide.

‘The snowball effect’: Business Intelligence and the foundations of a proactive culture

How can your business create a proactive culture? By integrating Business Intelligence Solutions.

Business Intelligence is the bricks and mortar of a proactive culture. Yet it can also be seen as a kind of ‘snowball effect’. It’s a movement: gathering mass and momentum as it drives your workplace culture to new heights.
To implement Business Intelligence successfully, though – along with a data-driven culture – you need to be open to change.

A transformative mindset requires training and collaboration; it craves buy-in at all levels and layers of your organisation. According to Phocas Software [27], your employees and managers are struggling to use data to drive decisions right now. But, when you embrace a Business Intelligencevision, they won’t be. And you, at a senior level, will start feeling the positive impact – from the bottom up.

Through this lens, it’s better for everyone in your company to have the same core training. The maths is simple: the better they can apply Business Intelligence to benefit their specific role, the faster (and more sustainably) your business will develop. That’s not to say your managers and executives shouldn’t have extra Business Intelligence features. They’re driving key business decisions at the top level; they need top-level data. On top of this extra functionality, your senior employees will also benefit from consistent company-wide reporting. And the deeper analytical mindset it manifests.

Unlocking your business’s potential for excellence – through intelligence


As we’ve seen, business excellence is more than just a destination. It’s a journey. Yet it’s also a puzzle.

Along with its two key components – process excellence and operational excellence – business excellence is a complex, intricate labyrinth. A maze to be navigated. A box to be unlocked.

Business intelligence is that map; that skeleton key. With the right Business Intelligence tools – paired with a data-driven mindset – your company can release powerful insights from previously unused (or unusable!) data. With this data, you can identify the right ways to improve. Whether that’s through better management practices, smarter decision making, or empowering your staff to reach their potential.

With Business Intelligence, you’ll lay the foundations not only of a data-driven culture, but a proactive one. One in which everyone – at all levels of your organisational hierarchy – has access to important insights. Helping them develop in their roles. Giving them inclusivity and information. And cultivating a culture where everyone feels part of your business’s ‘bigger picture’.

Business Intelligence is no longer a ‘nice to have’, or something belonging to the distant future.
It’s the present. And, to avoid consigning your business to the past, it’s something your organisation needs to embrace. A path all businesses, sooner or later, must tread.

That path may be long. It may be winding. But it’s well worth the walk. After all, business excellence awaits!

Incase you missed out on our next Blog on the Power of Business Intelligence where we shared insight on our BI Cheat Sheet for you to download

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