Sometimes referred to as data mining, business intelligence means searching out and analyzing data from multiple sources across the enterprise, and increasingly from outside sources as well, to identify patterns and relationships that might be significant.
Retailers are some of the biggest users of business intelligence software. Managers at companies such as Wet SealOpens in new window, a specialty clothing store selling mainly to teenage girls, and Elie TahariOpens in new window, a maker of designer clothes, need to spot changing trends fast, so they are continually mining sales data.
Wet SealOpens in new window created a web feature called Outfitter that allows users to put together their own outfits online; mining the 300,000 user-generated outfits gave managers an early lead on the trend toward wearing dressy tops with casual pants and jeans.
By collecting the right data and using business intelligence software to analyze it and spot trends and patterns, managers can make smarter decisions. For example, 1-800-Flowers.comOpens in new window uses data mining to tweak its marketing. Over a six-month period, the company improved its conversion rate (turning browsers into buyers) by 20 percent because of ore targeted pages and promotions.
Also in this series include:
- Richard L. Daft and Norman B. Macintosh, “The Nature and Use of Formal Control Systems for Management Control and Strategy Implementation,” Journal of Management 10 (1984), 43 – 66