The definition for the umbrella term “business intelligence” (BI) varies, depending on who you ask within a given organization. Sales and support teams, for example, likely have a much different take on (and use cases for) BI than IT and data analytics professionals.
But the basic business intelligence definition boils down to this:
The collection of business data into a central infrastructure that enables multiple teams within an organization to analyze data and glean in-depth insights into various facets of their operations that can ultimately improve their business decision-making
At a high level, brands leverage BI to track target audiences, appraise product and service offerings, scrutinize sales trends, and review revenue metrics, among other applications.
Marketing, in particular, relies on these systems for data visualization (e.g., simplified dashboards that streamline analysis) and data discovery (e.g., unearthing actionable intel in the form of descriptive analytics that can inform their customer lifecycle orchestration).
Ideally, data analysis occurs in a single BI tool that enables marketers to easily and quickly identify behavioral, engagement, and buying trends for both individuals and segments.
Big-name business intelligence systems like Tableau and Microsoft Power BI are popular among enterprise brands. (Not surprising, given they deliver robust data capabilities.)
But many organizations are eliminating these BI tools from their stacks entirely (or, at the very least, reducing their reliance on them). Now, many of these companies are turning to the customer data platform (CDP) as their primary business intelligence reporting hub.
And, by doing so, they’re taking their marketing strategies to greater heights.
Business intelligence reporting and data analysis: A must for marketing today
Many CEOs rightfully want versatility — not just functionality in one key area — with any technology they greenlight for their organizations. That’s why so many brand leaders sign off on built-for-purpose business information and intelligence solutions without a worry.
Best-in-class BI tools have long provided companies of all kinds with the ability to break down big data and access real-time data analytics required to make big business decisions:
- Product development: Leverage BI in conjunction with competitive intelligence about the market to create or refine products and services and adjust go-to-market strategies.
- Sales and account executives: More easily analyze prospect and customer data, and use that data to modify nurture, upsell, and cross-sell messaging for leads and buyers.
- Executive teams: View data associated with client invoices, team budgets, and revenue trajectories as well as metrics related to their customer retention strategies.
- Marketing: Consolidate first-party data from across their martech ecosystem to improve their lifecycle orchestration, integrated campaigns, and, ultimately, conversions.
Conventional business intelligence software in and of itself can certainly aid the first three departments above. But marketing teams — particularly at enterprise brands — need more than a system that solely syncs first-party data into one digital location.
Rather, they need a solution that helps them analyze, organize, and liberate that data at will.
Marketing benefits much more with a single BI solution that unifies customer data from all sources. But many marketers now prefer one that also enables methodical, targeted activation across channels in real time and provides a complete view of customers’ data.
As we’ve noted, without this true single customer view — and a legitimate one (i.e., not the “360-degree” view falsely promised by marketing clouds) — marketers’ ability to effectively segment, understand, reach, and convert their audiences in a scalable fashion is impossible.
This begs the question, though: What marketing technology has the requisite “business intelligence architecture” that offers such a comprehensive single customer view?
The answer? The customer data platform.
What makes the CDP a viable business intelligence solution for marketing
The ideal business intelligence analytics workflow for marketing is threefold:
- The marketing technologist — or, if that role is absent, the marketing team member who “own” data cleaning, organization, and analysis — creates data visualization dashboards for all stakeholders with a say in strategic planning and daily operations.
- The marketing manager who oversees lifecycle orchestration and integrated campaign execution analyzes customer data that flows into the central BI system in question. This data informs new and modified messaging, determinations regarding which channels to lean on, and other key marketing decisions.
- The marketing leader regularly checks in with the manager to review discernible trends or patterns from the data stored in their BI solution and advises on the long-term path and vision for their brand’s strategy to ensure they properly leverage their data.
The heart of this process — implementation of promotional activities guided and supervised by the marketing manager — is also the one that can be hindered without a single source of truth like a CDP that serves as both a business intelligence tool and activation solution.
Put plainly, business intelligence solutions offer in-depth (and worthwhile) data analyses features but fail to provide any means for marketing to liberate that data.
Self-service BI is pitched as an intuitive and highly beneficial solution for business that can assist multiple departments, with their data analysis needs, including marketing.
But without the right person to operate this BI software — whether it’s an internal marketing technologist or external business intelligence consultant — and own data governance for the brand at-large, it can become more detrimental than helpful.
The main reason? Too much unwieldy data imported into self-service solutions that takes time and resources to sort through and, eventually, derive useful insights from.
These BI tools can, however, lead to worthwhile insights and inform marketing decision-making by syncing into a more sophisticated and advanced business intelligence system that facilitates efficient activation — like a CDP.
Especially a pure-play CDP, which any and all marketers can own and operate without the need for IT and data science to hold their hands, so to speak.
Leveraging data science and business intelligence in a customer data platform
As Capterra Senior Director of Business Analytics and Operations Christopher Hogan told CMSWire, CDPs “do the dirty work.” Data analysis solutions like business intelligence software, meanwhile, simply bringing relevant data into a central location for assessment.
Take BlueConic’s pure-play customer data platform, for example. Our CDP offers the essential mix of both business intelligence visibility and data science capabilities.
There’s certainly a sizable barrier separating data science and business intelligence. But both aid brands’ marketing programs significantly. Just through different means:
- Business intelligence entails data from the past that is much more marketer- and executive-friendly, as it incorporates static info on prior outcomes and efforts undertaken by various departments and is presented in clean, easy-to-understand dashboards.
- Data science involves cleaning past customer data for future marketing use cases: from multi-dimensional segmentation construction to predictive analytics and machine learning models that forecast customer churn propensity and customer lifetime value.
Obviously, BI systems handle its namesake pretty well. But it’s only the CDP that offers both of these data-analysis capabilities — which, when combined, can elevate their strategies.
For instance, our CDP enables you to dynamically segment and analyze visitors, prospects, and customers. From this data analysis, you can then identify high-value audiences and deploy the aforementioned out-of-the-box predictive models with great ease.
Even if you don’t want to deploy data science-oriented models like these, you can utilize our CDP’s rich customer insights feature (called the Profile Recognition dashboard) to routinely evaluate these segments and augment your cross-channel marketing efforts.
Marketing activation makes the CDP the premier BI tool for large-scale brands
The CDP isn’t alone in replicating the functionality of business intelligence software.
Other popular marketing technologies have also tried to infuse the core capabilities offered by the premier business intelligence solutions in their systems as well.
But all these martech offerings have come up short when compared to the CDP.
For instance, data marts and data warehouses (see: legacy database martech) provide repositories of data from separate sources for various business users and use cases.
In the case of marketing, this means siloed customer data is merged for analysis.
But, as with traditional BI software, there are notable downsides to these tools.
Specifically, both are historically IT-run solutions that require considerable attention and resources to maintain. Moreover, neither technologies are activation systems like the CDP.
The CDP offers the best of both worlds, regarding business intelligence:
- Unification of relevant customer data in a dedicated system that makes strategic decision-making simpler and more streamlined for CMOs and on-the-ground marketers
- Activation of said data in personalized and individualized marketing that lead to bespoke customer experiences for buyers and prospects at every single lifecycle stage
“When the data is presented to decision-makers in such a visually appealing and useful way, they are enabled to chase and explore data-driven opportunities more confidently,” business intelligence analyst Narendra Mulani noted for Harvard Business Review.
And you won’t find a data-driven solution that supplies a more precise, up-to-date view of your prospects and customers that also happens to give you the confidence to deliver the highest-quality marketing messaging and CX than an advanced BI solution like the CDP.
Learn how BlueConic customer goba Sports Group eliminated its BI tool from its stack and now uses our CDP for its business intelligence reporting needs.