Business intelligence (BI) is the use of data and processes to analyze the inner workings of a company and figure out how to apply that data toward improvement and growth. Getting a handle on the analytics of your business improves processes and allows departments to run more efficiently. BI is a significant help, not only to large corporations, but to smaller companies as well.
In a recent survey, a mere 1% of consumers felt websites met their expectations — which is problematic for businesses that not only want to drive traffic to their websites, but to keep those visitors engaged. Although UX applies to more than just your site, given the fact that most people feel disappointed in the websites they visit, revamping your online presence is a smart starting point for increasing overall UX.
Anytime a business runs more efficiently, it affects the user experience, but BI impacts UX in a variety of specific ways. Here are seven key factors of BI you can use to improve UX.
1. Share Info Across Departments
Many businesses run into issues with leadership, marketing and the sales department communicating effectively. Because this trio works so closely together to drive the way customers see your brand, it's vital each component learns to communicate, and all three know what the others are doing at any given time.
BI seeks systems that allow these three departments to access the same information and see every team member's status on a given project. Marketing can look at which products are most popular with customers and create campaigns to drive further growth in that area or come up with a concept to sell inventory that isn't moving.
2. Design More Productively
Users form an impression of your site within milliseconds of landing on your page. Grabbing data on who your customers are, based on purchases and interactions staff members have with them, gives you insider information and ensures your designs are the best they can be the first time. Armed with this information, you can push your creativity toward other endeavors and grow your business more rapidly.
Since a lack of productivity costs companies around $550 billion per year, using BI to increase productivity improves your profit profile. Think about all the time wasted on redesigns of products and your website, and you can quickly see how studying the data before fleshing out a design improves your efforts.
3. Develop Better Insight
You can look at all the data in the world, but if you don't gain insight from it, it does you zero good. Make sure the BI system you invest in can dig deep and translate facts into actionable information. Look for the ability to configure pieces of information into dataflows and summaries of where your business might improve.
Business intelligence gathers all the little chunks of data, scans through them for patterns and spits out reports to help you grow your business and improve the overall experience, both for your customers and your employees.
4. Gain Objectivity
Your business is your baby — you likely grew it from the germ of an idea and put in untold hours toward nurturing its health. Your opinion isn't objective, because you're so close to your brand you can't see all the flaws your company has. However, it's hard to argue with the cold, hard facts BI provides.
When you gain objectivity, you can finally let go of "the way we've always done things" and incorporate some new methods that improve customer service. Instead of adding all-new content to your website homepage because you always have, you might choose to redirect your time and resources toward creating videos or social media posts, which analysis shows are much more effective than publishing blog posts.
5. Integrate Customer and Business Needs
Running a successful business requires focus on the intersection between customer needs, technology and business needs. If you look at these three different tiers of a business in a Venn diagram, the intersection combines BI and UX by pulling in data from all three sectors and figuring out how best to serve customers while meeting the needs of the company.
Tech companies, in particular, have a lot of competition, so figuring out efficient ways of meeting consumer expectations may mean the difference between success and failure.
6. Create a Quality User Dashboard
If your users log in to your systems to place orders, access members-only materials or look at services, the dashboard is essential. The dashboard should be easy to use and follow a standard pattern other dashboards follow. Test your dashboard and ask for feedback, which you can then run through your BI system and see what to change.
For example, if feedback shows 90% of your customers struggle to find a popular feature, you need to either change the location, name or look of the element that takes them to that feature.
7. Map the Buyer Journey
You can use your data to map and refine your buyers' journey. Gain insight into the audience's behavior at different points along the way. For example, if you discover most of your site visitors bounce away after adding items to their shopping cart, you know you need to focus on improving your conversion rates and simplifying your checkout experience.
While BI reports give you an overall picture of your business and processes that need improving, you must also use a healthy amount of common sense when making changes to the user experience. You may need to dig deeper and poll your customers to find out exactly why they are abandoning their shopping cart. Perhaps it isn't the site design, but the fact that you don't offer free shipping. It's still an experience you can fix for your customers, but it is far different than a design issue. BI gives you a solid base for figuring out what users want and how to deliver it, but you must use your skills and knowledge to ensure users leave your business satisfied.
Lexie Lu is a UX strategist and designer. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media and branding. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.