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A major focus for the decision-making process, Business Intelligence is the resource that will shape the future of enterprise procurement

Right decisions that worked in the past are no longer the only alternatives to support corporate procurement. This retroactive approach has given way to analytics made from Business Intelligence (BI), an artificial intelligence that helps in the development of effective strategies for business guidance.

If once the companies needed to keep an integrated framework to check contracts and create reports, today BI is the next big thing for decision-making in the procurement area.

By combining Information Technology (IT), analytics and software solutions, which enable leveraging data from various sources, such as those used in corporate purchases, business intelligence collects information from systems such as ERP and CRM, and converts them to significant information in real time.

BI can also help the procurement area and the respective professional to solve their major issues related to long-term information. “Customer databases, cloud data from other systems, Excel spreadsheets… all this unstructured data become relevant information through BI”, said Marcelo Beccari, Mercado Eletrônico’s CTO.

Data pouring

The multifaceted data flow doesn’t stop its growth: in the 90s, 100 gigabytes of data were produced in the world per second. According to an IDC and EMC study, by 2020 we will leap to 44 trillion gigabytes of data.

The challenge, however, is to control the exponential growth of these data and their diversity. Thanks to algorithms, the current data analysis can produce predictable models, which include all activities of a company: accounting, budgeting, customer relationship, internal organization and human resources.

With an intelligent reading of such data, a company is capable to define new targets. “This power, which was once in the hands of developers and analysts only, is now at the reach of everyone, and allows companies to discover information that was previously out of their control, in an easy and visual way”, explained Mr. Beccari.

Business intelligence or decision computing?

Created in 1958 by Hans Peter Luhn, a German researcher, BI came into being when data storage in virtual files was still a utopia. This situation persisted until 1989, when Howard Dresner gave it a new meaning. In his words, the ‘new’ BI would be “a set of concepts and methods to improve decision-making through systems of factual data analysis”.

Its creator could not foresee, however, that Business Intelligence’s decision analysis tools could go beyond simple reporting. “Today’s BI is not the same we saw in the past. At that time, we had transactional bases to create reports. Now it’s more focused on discovery”, added Mr. Beccari.

The tool’s ability to monitor company activity and conduct the management of its choices surpasses any human skills. It’s achieved with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning – which provide full visibility into expenses, risks and performance, and provides a 360-degree view of the whole company.

Business Intelligence can detect problems never identified before

Finding answers can be really complex. Sometimes, we don’t even know exactly what we are searching for. In this case, BI can help to find those elements that have gone unnoticed before. “ME Boost, Mercado Eletrônico’s BI tool, is vital to help answering questions you haven’t asked yet”, said Mr. Beccari about the engine that comes with all solutions of the company.

The magic happens with Data Discovery, which does a strategic analysis of the data and allows viewing them, so the right answers can be found. As a result, predefined reports are being less and less used to bring information analysis to all company levels.

Being a highly scalable search engine, this intelligence stores and analyzes huge information volumes and interprets such content as charts, which can be viewed in a control panel with customizable features, according to the needs of each user.

With regard to corporate procurement, BI puts at our fingertips all the components for an accurate analysis that can lead to governance. ME Boost, as explained by our director, goes beyond reporting and shows collected data as charts, trend lines and maps. “The user can check purchases from a supplier by category, seasonality, geography and business unit. He can also identify purchase anomalies, lead time, and trends in favor of a specific supplier or segment”, explained Mr. Beccari. “There are endless possibilities”.

Business Intelligence will be everywhere

With lighter interfaces, excellent usability and intuitive solutions based on SaaS (Software as a Service), current BI features also mobility. This makes important data and key indicators accessible at the screen of a smartphone.

According to Gartner, “75% of companies and their ecosystems (customers, suppliers and competitors) will be active users of analytics tools within the next two years”.

In this way, a clearly defined BI cycle helps companies to set goals, analyze progress, obtain information, act and measure results. Business Intelligence is definitely a performance management structure that should keep pace with your company’s solutions.