Business Intelligence Metrics

When it comes to business metrics, leveraging data to your advantage is the key differentiator when data is in abundance. Business intelligence metrics help you analyze all the information you collect in various forms, gain insights from the data, and make informed decisions.

In the security sector, intelligence is the norm. Little happens without being influenced by intelligence. Intelligence can refer to complex issues such as enemy capabilities to seemingly mundane matters such as what a head of state had for breakfast. Through intelligence, security sector players can competently run missions and guarantee a nation’s security.

The term business intelligence (BI) was first used in Richard Millar Devens’ Cyclopædia of Commercial and Business Anecdotes (1865) to describe how a banker profited by receiving and acting upon information faster than his competitors.

In a business, intelligence comes in various forms. While obtaining business intelligence is dissimilar to the cloak-and-dagger world of security forces, it serves the same purpose – to achieve mission-critical objectives.

Sources of Information for Business Intelligence Metrics

Below are the primary sources of information that feed into business intelligence metrics.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System

A CRM system contains customer data that includes things like purchasing frequency and the most popular products. A CRM system enables you to identify trends across your entire customer base. Trends in intelligence help you make accurate forecasts and make better decisions.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

ERP software offers insights on how the business has distributed its resources across different departments. ERP feedback is a goldmine for business intelligence. The data is used to ensure finite resources are sent where they are needed most and where they will result in the highest return on investment.

Data Centers

Many firms have data centers that are vast repositories of all sorts of information. But even though data centers store massive amounts of data, some of the data may obsolete or have no useful purpose. Also, the data is often raw or unstructured and unusable without further processing using specialized data analysis tools. It may also be in customized software with no means to integrate it into an analysis tool.

Some Key Considerations for Data Sources

To be useful, the sources of intelligence must possess the following attributes:

  • Data security: Business data is often proprietary. The loss of crucial company data and intellectual property can lead to lost profits and market share loss. BI tools must be secure and use advanced technologies to safeguard data.
  • Relevance: The data must be relevant to end-users in terms of helping them succeed in their jobs.
  • Accessibility: You can measure how good a business intelligence metrics tool is by how accessible it is – a great tool should be accessible on both mobile and desktop. Cloud accessibility is a great feature as you can access the tool from anywhere.

Difference Between Business Intelligence and Business Analytics

The two terms are often used interchangeably but have different meanings.

Business intelligence describes the factors that have led to the current situation. It pieces together the different pieces of the puzzle and completes the picture. According to Thomas Davenport, a professor at Babson college, business intelligence comprises the following elements:

  • Querying
  • Reporting
  • Online analytical processing (OLAP)
  • An “alerts” tool
  • Business analytics

From the above, business analytics is a sub-set of business intelligence. Rather than focus on the reporting functionality, it focuses on prediction, statistics, and optimization.

It is also important to note that business intelligence does not mean the same thing as competitive intelligence. BI focuses mostly on internal data and business processes, while competitive intelligence deals with data gathered from competitors.

Benefits of Business Intelligence

Let’s now consider some benefits of business intelligence metrics in more detail:

  • Decision making: Business intelligence metrics tools enable you to make better decisions; instead of relying only on your intuition of what seems the right path, leverage data insights to make an informed decision.
  • Makes you competitive: You may be in an industry where it is tough to break out from the herd. With a business intelligence metrics system, you can stand out from the crowd.
  • Trends: Some trends and patterns are hidden in plain sight. They only need a proper tool to identify them and take advantage of the data. A business intelligence metrics system is a crucial tool to pick up trends and act on them.
  • Better strategies: BI metrics tools enable you to make better decisions. With BI metrics tools, you can break down past strategies’ impact and learn from their mistakes and successes.
  • Improve business operations: Business intelligence metrics tools provide you with insights to optimize your business operations continually.

Business Intelligence KPI

Business intelligence key performance indicators (KPIs) track the main data points. A BI KPI provides you with actionable insights into key areas of your business.


Business intelligence metrics measure various processes in a business and are broadly grouped in several categories. Below are a few business intelligence KPI examples from each category.

Efficiency BI Metrics

  • % Operating Profit Margin -This metric shows the percentage of the total revenue regarded as profit after accounting for operating costs. It excludes interest and taxes.
  • % Overhead Cost to Sales: This is the percentage of the overhead costs to the sales revenue.
  • Operating Profit Value: This is the firm’s income before taxes and interest expenses are deducted.

Growth Business Intelligence Metrics

  • % Exports Revenue Growth: This highlights the percentage of growth in revenue derived from exports.
  • % Overall Revenue Growth: This is the percentage of growth from the entire revenue base. Very useful for companies with multiple sources of revenue.

Inventory Business Intelligence Metrics

  • % Obsolete Stock: this refers to the percentage of goods that have outlived their utility. There is no interest in the product in the market.
  • % Stock Accuracy: This business intelligence KPI shows the difference between what is recorded as stock in the inventory records and the warehouse’s actual quantity.
  • % Warehouse Utilization: This is a measure of how much capacity you are taking up in your warehouse. This is a useful metric to show you if you have excess storage capacity.

Human Capital Business Intelligence Metrics

  • % Staff Turnover: This is the percentage of staff who leave your business and are due for replacement. A high staff turnover rate may indicate poor human resource (HR) policies.
  • % Skills Gap: This figure shows the disparity between the skills needed and the skills that staff presently have. A high skills gap means you will have to spend time and resources for new employees to deliver effectively.

Governance BI Metrics

  • Audit Score Rating: This metric is derived from auditors who audit the finances or business operations and render a score. A low score is an indictment on senior management.
  • Employment Equity: This business intelligence KPI ensures there is equity in terms of minority and disadvantaged groups.

Operations Business Intelligence Metrics

  • % Average Production Yield: This metric shows the percentage of good quality stock compared to all manufactured products.
  • % Downtime: This metric reveals how often machines, equipment, plants, and systems fail to function. A high score may indicate poor maintenance or poor staff skills.

Innovation Business Intelligence Metrics

  • % Revenue from new products: This metric shows the percentage of your total revenue attributable to new products.
  • % Revenue from innovation: This metric shows what percentage of your total revenue is attributable to innovations. A high score may indicate that your research and development (R&D) department is doing a good job.

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