Using Business Intelligence for Better Decision-Making
Have you ever looked at a key performance indicator (KPI), seen that something is not where it should be, and wondered, “Now what?”
It happens all the time in transportation and logistics. Our KPIs often show us the “what” of our operations but not always the “why.” Take a declining customer service score, for example, or an eroding margin and falling load volumes. Simply knowing the numbers is not enough when a KPI is heading in the wrong direction. Guessing about what to do next often creates bad outcomes.
Every score should have an answer. That’s where business intelligence comes in. With the right technology, you’ll get more meaning and context with information to act quickly and decisively.
What is Business Intelligence?
Business intelligence (BI) is software that uniquely combines analytics, data management, and reporting tools. With this combination, it can ingest large amounts of data and illustriously present a single version of the truth in user-friendly reports, dashboards, charts, and graphs. These visualizations allow companies to drill down into granular details, extrapolate valuable insights on business performance, make informed decisions, and develop action plans.
Think of BI as a GPS device for your business strategy. Simply knowing where you want to go accomplishes nothing. You need information on how to get there. By compiling data across platforms, BI gives teams uniform directions on how to achieve KPI metrics and company goals and, when necessary, make course corrections.
How Does Business Intelligence Benefit My Enterprise?
Countless ways exist for applying BI to a company. The key is finding ways to apply BI to your organization’s unique challenges to create simple solutions. Here are three of the most important, and impactful, areas to focus.
- Assess Organizational Health
What gets measured gets managed and improved. The key is to create company-wide visibility of metrics that matter. BI makes this easy by pulling multiple pieces of data from various systems, aggregating the information, and publishing the details as KPIs in dashboards tailored for each user.
A logistics company, for example, could have a BI dashboard that covers key aspects of its business. To make the metrics part of its culture, the company has a daily scorecard displayed on overhead monitors with KPIs that include on-time performance, the value of pending sales deals, available warehouse capacity, rate per mile trends, delivered loads, and more.
Any metric below the acceptable threshold turns red. When that happens, leadership can immediately dig into the numbers to start asking questions about performance and what a team or division needs to improve.
- Accelerate Data-Driven Decision-Making
A key benefit of business intelligence is its simplicity. Once implemented, the software requires very little ongoing support from technical experts. Trained staff can create dashboards and run reports by merely telling the system what data to pull. That eliminates the bottleneck so often created when requiring IT resources and reserves that technical skillset for more advanced projects.
As another example, suppose a trucking company finds that its rate per mile is falling. A frontline user could pull data from the company’s transportation management software (TMS) on load volumes across regions. The analysis could be done within the BI software to determine where the freight market has shifted.
Going forward, the company decides to create a dynamic BI map that uses real-time market rate data and fleet capacity. The customer service team uses the map to keep ahead of changes and book more loads in stronger markets to capitalize on better head-haul rates.
- Better Comprehend Customers
Companies that wait for customer scorecards to assess performance will always be reacting to problems. With BI technology, companies have a proactive way to manage customer data.
BI can show on-time performance, load volumes, available trucks and locations, trailer capacity, and more. Anything captured in a company’s TMS becomes fair game for analysis. Even better, the platform can assess KPIs for all customers or individually. BI even gets granular enough to look at specific sites. Teams can spot trends, isolate problems, and identify areas of improvement through one easy-to-understand dashboard or report.
The technology also offers important insights for pricing and bidding contracts. With BI, a carrier could aggregate average rates and volumes by geographic zone using in-house and market data. The BI report could offer the pricing and sales teams a visual representation of how to rate lanes and refine network origin-destination pairs to improve utilization, rate per mile, and service performance.
Get More with Magnus
Business intelligence raises the IQ of your team by putting the right information in front of the right people to make better decisions. Companies who leverage the technology’s capability often say, “We can’t operate without it.”
With the Magnus TMS platform, carriers and logistics providers don’t have to. The integrated BI reporting suite provides valuable insights into your operations and broader trucking industry trends. Teams can customize reports and build dashboards to find and respond to developing trends. The Magnus TMS and integrated BI tool make seeing the big picture and diving into the details possible for any KPI.
When teams know more, they can do more. An integrated BI suite is one of many ways the Magnus TMS simplifies transportation to free resources for the most important tasks at hand. For more information about how the latest advancements in TMS technology can make your business easier for you and your customers, see our latest guide.
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