On the surface, business intelligence (BI) software is about making evidence-based decisions that give your facility an edge. BI helps uncover insight about your customers, financials and operations. Underneath, BI is really about replacing guesswork with the truth, or cleaning the noise off the signal. 

From sales to operations, the business of health and fitness is full of questions that business intelligence software can answer. And BI platforms now communicate in simple business terms, allowing your entire staff to save time, grow revenue, reduce costs and make much smarter business decisions.

First, let's get to know BI. Later we'll examine the core BI capabilities and then detail why these capabilities can separate health and fitness companies from the pack.

BI Goes Mainstream

"BI is no longer a nice-to-have back-office application that counts widgets – it is now used as a key competitive differentiator by all leading organizations," says Boris Evelson, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

So business intelligence software is escaping from the back office and empowering business users everywhere. At least that is where we are heading. Experts estimate 10-15 percent of employees in an organization currently have access to BI. But Gartner predicts that number will hit 75 percent by 2020. Why is this trend important? Tougher competitors and smarter customers make winning on just quality, cost and service more and more challenging, and not very sustainable.

BI for Business Users

The future belongs to facilities that know their customers, services and competitors better than, well, their competitors. BI software delivers this advantage. Even better, BI has evolved into a self-service technology ready to support and inform your entire staff, including frontline employees.

BI self-service and simple interfaces turn everyone into problem solvers. Enhanced data visualization is helping drive this self-service movement.

"Visual data-discovery tools have become synonymous with self-service BI and are growing at three times the pace of the overall BI market," says Cindi Howson at InformationWeek.

Compared to big data tools and technologies, BI is mature and easier to apply across a single platform. Buyers now have plenty of vendors to choose from, and BI capabilities are integrating more with existing data management systems. Evelson at Forrester emphasizes leading BI vendors have been in business more than 10 years and offer products that are robust, scalable and stable.

Business Intelligence Capabilities

Analysis. BI slices and dices data allowing users to find fast answers to tough questions. A what-if analysis helps reshape data into optimal solutions. Trend analysis uncovers meaningful business patterns, and advanced analysis can predict outcomes.

Reporting. Authors build, view and modify reports covering just about any business need. In fact, modern BI reporting is a good reason why BI is going mainstream. Business users can now bypass IT and create their own reports.

Dashboards. Analytics aside, dashboards are the workhorses of BI. BI software makes it easy to assemble and access both current and historical data, then share and collaborate with a wider audience. Dashboards provide the visual your busy staff needs to analyze data and take fast action.

Monitoring. As a dashboard function, BI crunches data and ships it to those making tough decisions for your company. Real-time monitoring includes KPIs and other measurements that detect changes and allow rapid response times. Want to see the future? Monitoring also reveals opportunities for new services and efficiencies.

Data visualization. As business becomes more data-driven, data visualization helps bridge the gap between business analytics and business users. Your employees don't need a Ph.D. in statistics to operate BI software. BI vendors know attractive, intuitive charts and graphs resonate better with the masses than complex algorithms and academic jargon.

Why It's Right for Health and Fitness

Business intelligence software is right for health and fitness because it does the following:

Detects membership trends. BI detects early trends in membership counts. We are in the people business, and members pay the bills. Get to the root of the problem and take decisive action because BI gets ahead of membership trends both good and bad.

Shares knowledge. Tag and comment on data visualizations. This enables and encourages discussion among decision makers, taking advantage of your staff's collective intelligence. BI helps assess your immediate business and distribute findings across departments, engaging the right people at the right time.

Quantifies sales. Quantify what's selling and what's not. BI highlights products and services worth keeping and kills those underperforming. Accurate sales numbers result in better inventory management and stronger supplier relationships.

Knows your business. Get to know prospects and members. Know where they live and how they behave. Close more deals and retain more members using updated information customized for your unique selling environment. As a bonus, BI output inspires creative ideas and breakthrough thinking, leading sales and marketing toward untapped markets and fresh revenue streams.

Audits data. Ever wonder why membership increased while revenue lagged? Data auditing solves these types of mysteries and more. BI recognizes hiccups and anomalies on the fly, keeping your revenue targets on plan.

Targets buyers. Market basket analysis tells you things such as why groups of members buy training sessions and workout gear together. In other words, market basket analysis explains why people who bought x also bought y, or people using x also used y. This helps bundle and package products and services effectively, making all of your departments more profitable.

Optimizes resources. BI tells a better resource story. Using BI software, resource allocation improves because underutilized resources get exposed and performing resources get prioritized. This helps optimize your resource mix.

Content Sponsored by CSI Software

CSI Software Business Intelligence delivers insight that drives better business outcomes. It's analysis, visualization and reporting in one powerful package. See both the big picture and the hidden details because business intelligence helps align your objectives with past, present and future data, making your entire facility smarter. Let data be your edge.