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Fiona McGuinness07-Feb-2023 09:27:279 min read

A Guide to Transforming Data into Actionable Insights

Gathering data is one thing, but transforming it into actionable insights that will bring genuine value to your day-to-day operations? That’s another matter entirely.

Never has it been easier for businesses to accrue data and information. Yet without the right technology, tools and processes, all these resources count for nothing if you’re unable to extract the value and insights you need to drive your business forward.

That’s where we can help. Our guide to transforming data into actionable insights showcases just some of the tools, techniques and processes you can use to extract maximum value from your data sets.

Business Intelligence Tools

Business intelligence tools are exactly what they sound like: smart tools for tapping into your data to extract insights that aid business decision-making.

In the past, business software had basic tools for understanding data, and getting more tools meant spending a lot. Today, modern systems have plenty of built-in tools for better insights, and you can easily add more tools from other 3rd party providers using features like REST API integration.

So these days there is no need for time-consuming reporting and manual analytics; with the right business intelligence software, you’ll get insights at your fingertips, and all in real time.

With the right business intelligence tools (that are preferably in-built or fully integrated into your ERP software) at your disposal, tapping into even the largest datasets becomes an instant, straightforward process. They enable you to access key metrics wherever and whenever you need them, which is perfect for supporting those timely decisions that can prove the difference-maker in achieving those immediate and long-term goals.

Who wouldn’t want to know they’re losing margin on a customer and want to investigate further? Or want to analyse buying patterns or customer purchasing behaviours to see where opportunities might lie?

For Intact iQ users, this business intelligence comes in the form of Business Metrics, our dedicated in-built BI module. Favoured by branch managers and above, the business metrics module is an out-the-box solution that comes with a wide array of pre-configured metrics that offers meaningful, real-time data to your staff, anywhere they need it in your ERP system.

For instance, you may like to know when opportunities are being missed such as when two products, normally sold together, aren’t being purchased by certain customers. This complementary product category analysis would warrant further investigation.

By utilising intelligence software like Business Metrics, you can really put your data to work across your organisation. Actionable insights that were once tricky to pin down in a timely manner are now readily available, when and where you need them in your system, e.g. from customer and product views to your branch group view or cost centres – you just drag and drop your sales metrics to whatever view you want them in your system.

It takes a technical mind to figure it out

Personalised User Interfaces for Real-Time Data Monitoring

One of the advantages of using modern ERP software is the range of customisation and personalisation options available to you and your colleagues. Having the ability to control what you see and when brings actionable metrics straight to the user, with minimal need to go looking for the data and insights that you need.

Personalising your system’s on-screen dashboard can be done by department, team or individual. That means near-limitless opportunities for bespoke settings and customisation, based on each user’s immediate and long-term KPIs.

But with that amount of personalisation available at your fingertips, it can be easy to get carried away and add too many metrics and data channels to your dashboard. We’d avoid this where possible. Tracking fewer metrics will ensure maximum clarity, so you can easily spot those valuable insights that will help support decision-making and day-to-day operations.

With the iQ system, your Control Desk is your user interface, there to keep key data and metrics right under your nose. You can set the metrics and data you want to keep track of, and individual workflows will bring this information to you on a real-time basis.

It’s a powerful time-saving solution that can be highly effective at making sure you don’t miss out on any insights that you’d do well to action.

Automated Alerts

Manually analysing reams of data is a time-consuming and inefficient undertaking – and often a frustrating one when your efforts don’t bear fruit. While business intelligence tools and customisable dashboards offer actionable insights when and where they are needed, setting up automated alerts is another effective way to get the data you and your staff need in front of you without ever needing to go looking for it.

Think about it: your sales manager is pushing a certain product, when they receive an automated alert informing them that there’s an issue with that particular item. They can course-correct immediately, switching priorities and preventing issues that could end up costing your business time and money in the long run. Not to mention, damaging customer service too.

This is just one basic example of how automated alerts can bring actionable insights straight to the users who needs them. There are so many other ways you can automate countless tasks, processes and business rules to maximise efficiencies and take the noise out of your business – and in doing so, improve decision-making.

For instance, modules like Intact Nexus enable you to authorise, prevent, warn, protect, highlight, confirm and extend tasks using the ‘If This Then That Principle’. This helps channel the important, relevant information and actions to you and your team. It’s a game-changer for many of our customers.

Mobile Platforms

Increasingly, key personnel may be working remotely or out of the office on business. In these situations, it’s vital they still have access to accurate, real-time information to carry out their role.

Thanks to mobile solutions, it’s now easier for those working remotely to access key metrics and data without the need to request it from colleagues in the office. Consider such platforms an extension of your business software solution – they connect remote staff with the information and insights they need, so no opportunities need go begging.

The 24/7, anywhere access provided by mobile platforms can prove vital in all sorts of situations. For example, should a sales rep need key customer data out in the field, they can access it easily on their mobile device in real-time, with no delays or setbacks that could jeopardise a sales prospect.

By leveraging mobile solutions like Intact Access, you’re effectively opening up a new avenue through which your team can access the insights they need to support day-to-day operations. Such technology removes multiple barriers that have historically held businesses back, including location, time and proximity constraints.

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Email Authorisations

When it comes to speeding up the approval process within your business, setting up automated email authorisations is a great time-saver. You may have people in your organisation that need to get purchases over a certain value, or a certain level of margin authorised by staff higher up the chain of command. You can ensure that person gets an email to authorise the purchase or margin level. They simply click ‘Authorise’ from within the email and this automatically updates your system. It streamlines the whole process because it means you don’t have to be on your system to approve it.

With Intact iQ, workflows such as approving sales orders, or sales delivery notes for price review now extend to Intact Access, our mobile platform. This is a very efficient and effective way of managing key process approvals.

On-screen & Scheduled Reporting

Why spend time running reports when you can have your key performance measurements and tailored reports automatically sent to your team’s email account, printer or on-screen?

Scheduled reports can be created to be sent out daily, weekly, monthly or annually, so your team don’t have to go looking for the information they need, it gets sent to them.

With scheduled reports, you can schedule them to be sent to you at 1am in the morning, ready for you to view when you come into work. For instance, the MD can come into work and find the sales figures from yesterday already sitting in their inbox.

We advise customers to use their screens for reports by setting up a list screen however they want it – showing all the relevant information they require. Once they have what they need they can then export it if so desired.

Different layout views can be saved and are like instant reports that can be used periodically moving forward. For instance, you could have a view to show all sales invoices daily, and then at the end of the month, you’ll have your total sales invoices summary review for that month. These are updated in real-time, and you can still change the columns on the screen to a layout you prefer.

Having your key performance metrics and operational data readily available is a huge win for day-to-day efficiency and time-saving. In addition, on-screen reporting and scheduled reports are vital in giving staff the information they need when they need it most.

On-screen reporting also eliminates the need to run numerous and often time-consuming reports. You also have greater freedom to manipulate the data further to create mini reports on screen. And whilst it may take a little while to get used to this new way of reporting, users quickly see the benefits and find it much easier. In time, you’ll also notice a gradual reduction in your reliance on Excel sheets. Now who doesn’t want that!

In practice,  it also means never missing out on opportunities that matter. You’ll have all the data you need to drive productivity and decision-making, without having to rely on labour and time-intensive manual data mining and reporting.

A Final Word on Transforming Data into Actionable Insights

While this guide has made clear that technology can be a huge help in allowing you to transform data into actionable insights, it’s worth noting that this is only possible with the right systems and controls in place.

For example, without investment in modern business management software, like ERP, you may not be able to realise benefits like real-time metrics, personalised dashboards/screen views and automated alerts. Such systems also require astute management and supervision to extract the maximum amount of value.

We hope this guide proves useful in helping you get the very most from your data sets. Flexible and customisable, Intact iQ provides a perfect-fit solution to all your business needs – even those of the future. For more information on how it can elevate your business, head here or get in touch with us today.


Fiona McGuinness

I've been part of the Intact family for 16 rewarding years. After completing my Business Studies degree, I knew Marketing was a field I wanted to pursue. Prior to joining Intact, I primarily worked in the financial sector, focusing on marketing for credit unions. When I started at Intact, I handled all the marketing tasks by myself. Over time, as our team expanded, so did my role. Now, I specialise in crafting compelling content across various platforms, from blogs to video scripts. No two days are the same, and I thrive on the dynamic nature of my role. Whether it's diving into customer case studies or lead campaigns, I'm driven by the positive impact our solutions bring to businesses. In an age where AI plays a significant role, I remain a firm believer in the power of authentic content. When I'm not working, you'll find me enjoying quality time with my family, sewing, or watercolor paintings.