business-intelligence | 11 mins read

5 Key Points to Consider When Implementing Business Intelligence Automation

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Debdutta Bhattacharjee

By Debdutta Bhattacharjee

What is Business Intelligence Automation?

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You run a busy restaurant and want to undertake an inventory management exercise. You want to optimize your purchases so that you meet two objectives- you don't run out of supplies and you don't end up wasting food. You have other goals too. You want to check if the expected and actual utilization of your resources match, and you want to guard against food theft and food loss from pest infestation.

You manually go from shelf to shelf, and fridge to fridge to count stocks, jotting down information on sheets of paper. You also use rudimentary spreadsheet software to record inventory counts. This information will essentially form the basis of your business intelligence reports that will go on to inform your decision making for the company. You realize that manual inventory is strenuous and susceptible to human error, which defeats the purpose of the exercise itself.

You then hit upon software that automates inventory management. It not only generates massive amounts of data, but interprets this data and presents it as attractive and easily comprehensible charts, graphs, and tables to give you a better grip on your purchases.

What's more, a job that was earlier accomplished by several employees together is now managed by just a few interconnected technology solutions that deliver more comprehensive, and accurate results than before. The number of processes can be minimized too, and the entire reporting and analytics process can be managed autonomously. Moreover, sophisticated BI software makes business reporting and analysis available in real time, from any location, and on any handheld gadget.

Business intelligence automation helps to simplify every aspect of an operation, not just inventory management. It lets the employees conserve time and energy, which could be devoted to other tasks.

Intelligent automation, or cognitive automation, uses automation technologies such as business process management (BPM), robotic process automation (RPA), and artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline an organization's decision making.

Apart from processing and identifying connections between data from various sources, automated business intelligence can also look for trends that data scientists may miss. Complex algorithms and machine learning are used to make sense of vast volumes of data and undertake predictive analysis based off them. Moreover, with the help of business process management, workflows can be automated too.

Robotic process automation involves bots being deployed to assist in back-office functions such as filling out forms or unearthing relevant information. By leveraging AI insights, robotic process automation allows organizations to handle complicated tasks and frame use cases.

A 'use case' describes how someone actually carries out a task to fulfill an objective. Although use case is a concept most closely related to software systems, it can be extrapolated to any process. Therefore, for a restaurant chef looking to prepare a dish, the use case would outline the steps involved. Importantly, a use case enables you to identify potential weaknesses in a process.

How Does Business Intelligence Benefit a Restaurant?

There are several ways BI benefits a restaurant.

1. By helping to analyze sales data generated by the point of sale (POS) system, automated business intelligence enables a restaurant to identify its best-selling items and manage its menu more efficiently. Product prices can also be adjusted according to demand. Multi-chain restaurants can make use of data analytics to identify locations that are most profitable.

2. Business intelligence allows organizations to look at historical sales data from POS reports and analyze trends, based on which demand and sales can be predicted. Effective demand planning facilitates cost modification, inventory planning, staff scheduling, and streamlining of various other business processes to meet the company's objectives.

3. Data analysis can improve the efficiency of inventory management. A restaurant, for example, can select which ingredients need to be reordered right away, based on sales data. An analysis of the rates offered by different vendors for the same product would allow restaurants to make their decisions more data driven. Supply chains can thus be managed effectively using BI information. Food waste can also be minimized by BI-driven inventory and supply chain management.

4. Restaurants can identify periods of high and low traffic by analyzing POS data with the aid of specialized BI tools. This enables businesses to calibrate their employee scheduling to match their actual operational requirements. This becomes crucial for controlling labor costs. POS systems may also capture data on employee performance and punctuality. Automatic employee time collection with the help of POS systems allows data to be quickly sent for payroll processing.

5. Business intelligence data on customer age, gender, food preferences, time/days of visit, frequency of visit, and preferred modes of payment can allow restaurants to devise better rewards and loyalty programs for them. Promotional campaigns can also be made more targeted with the help of customer data.

6. Organizations can find and eliminate blind spots thanks to business intelligence and data analytics. A restaurant, for example, may be paying too much for an ingredient without being aware that a more affordable or superior alternative is available. It can then act accordingly to cut costs and maximize profits.

Let's now review a couple of intelligent automation tips that can help you achieve the best outcomes from your BI system.

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Intelligent Automation Tip No. 1 - Small Steps to Achieve Big Goals

Starting small and gradually expanding your workflows is the key to BI automation. Once you execute your initial processes, see how they pan out. Then make the workflow refinements you need, whether it's adding more complicated automations or multiplying the number of automations altogether. This ensures that your learning curve is gradual and steady.

Framing ambitious end goals for priority use cases enables you to establish criteria for success much before the implementation of your plan. Small, yet impactful steps can add up to big success in the future.

Small, incremental, and quick successes will build the trust of the employees, investors, and consumers. It allows business owners to make more confident decisions. A restaurant that has reaped the benefits of automated Data Management in the areas of reporting and analytics may be keen to expand BI automation to inventory management and employee scheduling, for example.

Chalk up a three-, five-, or ten-year plan for your BI automation. However, remember that your BI software must be easy to use, with adequate training provided to users.

Intelligent Automation Tip No. 2 - Establish Automation Goals

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Investing money on BI automation technologies and spending time developing new workflows won't amount to much if they don't deliver profits for your organization. Therefore, before implementing a workflow, be sure to establish clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used to determine the success of automation and make necessary alterations.

In certain cases, the goal of automation may be to free up employees for other tasks. For example, kitchen robots may automate cooking ordinary menu items in a restaurant so that the cooks can focus on creating special dishes.

It is therefore important to plan what your employees are going to do with the time freed up by BI automation. Clearly establish your objectives and make them measurable, so that you can review the effects of the most minor of your business intelligence automations.

Targets need to be specific and clear and cover specified periods. These can then be used as yardsticks to measure the performance of the company.

Intelligent Automation Tip No. 3 - Attain End-to-end Automation

Businesses today require integrated automation solutions that can be easily scaled up and become part of a larger digital transformation strategy for the company.

Intelligent automation is achieved through coordination between technologies and insights, and not by a single technology functioning alone. This happens at the point where process mining, digital process automation, robotic process automation, and artificial intelligence intersect. Processes cannot be optimized fully or are unable to reach maximum automation efficiency without all these components working together.

End-to-end workflows dismantle silos. Moving away from functional silos makes team handoffs more efficient, helps in focusing on a common goal, and reduces the blame game. Organizations are then able to concentrate on the final objective of business processes, and not just on the efficiency of specific parts. This also helps ensure that modifications made to optimize one process do not adversely affect another function.

Developing end-to-end procedures enables organizations to automate activities to reduce expenses, enhance customer experiences, and increase efficiency.

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Intelligent Automation Tip No. 4 - Automation Across Departments

Organizations should go the whole hog and automate every department. Automating simple processes can, without a doubt, reduce the work time of employees. However, this reduction won't be substantial or sufficient, and won't have much of an impact on how work is done across the company if automation is executed for one department alone. This is because of the interconnectedness of business processes performed by various departments across the organization.

If functions within departments are routinely and fully automated across the board, employees can save up to 30% more time on the whole. This time can then be allocated to tasks of higher value. Indeed automation of entire departments can demonstrate to the top management the potential for boosting productivity.

Complex activities that require coordinated action by several departments are most suited for coordinated intelligent automation or a joint implementation of digital technologies.

Automation across departments leads to greater collaboration between the various wings of the organization. It provides a suitable base for scaling up robotic process automation and can facilitate digital transformation uniformly across the organization.

Intelligent Automation Tip No. 5 - Foster a Pro-Automation Attitude

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New technologies, especially those dealing with automation, tend to be viewed negatively by employees. New technology doesn't replace human effort, it simply means that employees are required to do things differently, and are able to do them more efficiently.

It is crucial to broadcast the benefits of automation to those who will be affected by it. An automation culture needs to be created in the organization. This will encourage employees to identify processes that are repetitive and can be automated to save time and energy.

Once employees come to terms with workplace automation, they'll realize it isn't a usurpation of their roles and responsibilities. Employees should be trained to identify processes that are most amenable to automation and spot which existing automation infrastructure can be improved.

Tech-savvy employees should be identified and allocated the most complicated and difficult tasks. They should also be rewarded if they are able to deliver stronger outcomes through BI automation.

Top 3 Business Intelligence Software for Restaurants

1. Zip POS Dashboard- This BI software solution steps in when a restaurant POS system fails to aggregate and analyze data properly. Users can access valuable business data churned out in real time by the POS system, which Zip POS Dashboard displays as automatically generated charts, tables, and graphs. These are useful in assessing the performance of an organization and detecting operational concerns. The Zip POS Dashboard software also ensures that sales data is maintained securely. Managers no longer need to examine POS reports on office computers, thanks to the Zip POS Dashboard mobile app which allows users to check reports anytime, wherever they are. The software is one of the best free BI solutions available for restaurants. Zip POS Dashboard can be downloaded from the Hubworks app store for restaurants.

2. Restaurant365- Restaurants using this cloud-based accounting and business management solution will have all the essential tools to run their operation on one consolidated platform. The program fully connects with supply chain, POS, and payroll systems, and makes Restaurant Management frictionless. The Restaurant365 BI tool allows businesses to easily track stock levels and purchase the precise amount of stocks they require. This helps reduce food waste. The packages offered by Restaurant365 are Essential ($399/location/month), Professional ($489/location/month), and a quote-based Enterprise plan.

3. Microsoft Power BI- With the help of this tool, data is transformed into incredibly useful graphics, providing businesses with an accurate understanding of what customers want. A variety of BI tools are available with this software that helps in data segmentation and the development of key business insights. Users can then share these insights with other team members via Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, with which the BI software connects. Power BI, with its wealth of data visualization and intuitive artificial intelligence features, allows Data Integration and processing from a number of sources.
There is a free, Pro, and Premium version of this software. Pro users must pay a monthly fee of $13.70. The monthly price for the Premium edition is $27.50 per user, and $6,858.10 per capacity.

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