5 Ways Business Intelligence Encourages Franchise Autonomy

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In modern business, information is the key that opens doors. More information leads to more opportunities. One way that many companies are choosing to seize the opportunities available to them is through the use of business intelligence (BI) tools. 

The term ‘business intelligence’ describes software programs that help companies better understand performance metrics. BI systems collect data in the areas of customer support, product performance and competitive intelligence. These systems centralise data, improve reporting metrics and deliver data analytics tools. These all make it easier for decision-makers to review, cross-reference and understand information. 

BI and autonomy

Although BI software is becoming increasingly popular, some franchise managers still harbour concerns about adopting this technology in the workplace. By far, the most common worry is that centralising data might quash franchise autonomy. And, understandably, managers fear losing something they value above all else: the freedom to make their own choices.

However, when used well, BI can make your business more transparent, improve your decision-making processes and increase your ability to visualise how you contribute to the company as a whole. 

It’s essential to remember that technology is merely a tool. How a company chooses to use that tool is determined by their culture. With the right cultural attitude, BI can support a company’s growth, it’s employees and its independence. Here, we’ll look at just five of the many ways that business intelligence encourages franchise autonomy.

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1. Decision-making relies on information: BI delivers

Smart decision-making is vital to any business’s success. And it’s inherently impossible to make informed decisions without information. 

One reason that many franchise managers are wary of BI software is that it provides information to central offices. For many individuals, the concept of big data and analytics brings to mind images of Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’. 

Although these concerns are certainly valid in theory, they are rarely a reason for concern in practice. Business intelligence tools can be beneficial for all decision-makers, not just those at the top. To explain, let’s unpack a couple of key points: 

  • First, there can be no ‘Big Brother’ in a culture that fundamentally rejects such a concept. A healthy business culture respects its employees’ work lives and values trust, openness and honesty. In such a culture, it’s highly unlikely that a head office would choose to use BI in a harmful or authoritarian way. Appropriately used, business intelligence tools can further support a healthy culture by allowing for data transparency, opening lines of communication and facilitating information sharing. 
  • Secondly, information sharing is not a one-way street. Yes, BI delivers critical information to central offices, but it also supplies valuable data to franchise managers. More access to better information empowers decision-makers at all levels to make sharper, more informed decisions. 

As a decision-maker, BI tools can help you make sense of the ever-increasing reams of data in your possession, giving you one version of the truth. Real-time analytics can help you gain the most immediate and relevant insights. Meanwhile, leveraging predictive analytics can help you use historical information to identify the probability of future outcomes. Better, faster, and more precise data analysis will enable you to make speedier and more appropriate decisions.

Put more concisely: business intelligence tools can provide you with both the raw data and the tools necessary to interpret the data. All of this comes together to improve your decision-making processes and, ultimately, your overall business.

2. Business intelligence delivers the big picture

In life and business, the details matter. But as a franchise manager, you probably find that getting caught up in day-to-day operations makes it all too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. To achieve long-term success, you must be able to zoom in and out. 

See where you fit

In terms of the bigger picture, BI allows you to see how specific franchises sit within the broader business. It’s not intended as a ‘comparison’ or ‘ranking’ tool, a thought that often worries franchise managers. Instead, being able to see the bigger picture allows managers to make decisions based on hard data. Data centralisation improves a user’s understanding of business performance, allowing you to identify and address both weaknesses and strengths. BI takes away the guesswork, enhancing both decision-making and outcomes. 

By using BI software, you can gain access to all of your company’s data to guide your management decisions. In the past, business owners struggled with the challenge of sharing information with their peers. BI solutions directly address this problem by enabling data to be shared quickly and freely with different permissions. 

Profit from information sharing 

For franchise managers, one of the most practical benefits of using BI is the ability to learn from other franchises. By sharing information with business users on your level, you can avoid costly mistakes. After all, if you’re facing a problem, you’re probably not the only one. Data visualisation allows you to see the steps others have taken to overcome obstacles and improve their businesses. Similarly, businesses and managers that are experiencing success can serve as a model for others. Increased information sharing helps franchises to grow stronger and smarter. 

By delivering the bigger picture, BI enables business owners to both maximise profits and share the wealth.

3. Business intelligence makes it possible to zoom in on details

Details matter. And all too often, details can make or break a business. This awareness is why BI allows you to zoom in on features of your business that you otherwise might have overlooked. 

BI tools allow you to view precise key performance indicators, also known as KPIs. The term KPI is often used interchangeably with the umbrella term ‘target setting’, but it’s important to note that KPIs focus more particularly on tracking progress. Setting KPIs allows you to develop actionable and strategic goals for future growth. 

However, the mere act of setting KPIs will not necessarily deliver results. Even if your data quality is good, KPI setting requires a degree of finesse. To make KPIs work for you, you’ve got to build an effective strategy.

How can BI help with KPI strategy?

BI can provide you with the details necessary to build and execute a smart KPI strategy. BI software allows you to: 

  • Set KPIs against specific metrics and track outcomes
  • See how to tailor products or services to meet your customers’ needs
  • Evaluate existing KPIs to fill any gaps in your overall strategic plan
  • Understand your data, determine KPI key-points and pinpoint areas for improvement

Identifying what is essential to your business and setting appropriate KPIs can help you not only survive but also flourish in a competitive market. 

These tools allow you to understand your franchise on a detailed level. And understanding the details will give you a clear perspective on how to achieve the optimum results.

4. Good business intelligence will reduce admin

A successfully constructed business intelligence system will create a more streamlined process of data ingest. But what does this mean for you, on a day-to-day level? Good news: fewer spreadsheets and less manual data entry. 

Although many franchise owners express concern over their information being shared with a central office through BI, sharing particulars this way can save a lot of time. In the past, franchises were required to divulge information to central offices through manual reports. Completing this paperwork could be tedious, time-consuming and at risk of human error. 

With BI tools, you can share information across different levels of management with varying permissions and access levels. Adopting a BI system can save time, hassle, and unnecessary paperwork. 

All of this means less bureaucracy and more time to actually do the things you need to do to keep your business running smoothly.

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5. Business intelligence allows for better communication 

We’ve already discussed how both data and BI software’s features enable franchise managers to understand their business and how it fits within the larger company. This is the big picture. We also know that BI allows franchise managers to zoom in on the details. But the communication that BI facilitates enables you to use what you’ve gleaned from these tools to improve your business.

The ability to set KPIs and specific actions and track results can improve communication. It also strengthens a business’ ability to transform data-driven insights into outcomes. With permission-based information sharing, business intelligence tools make it easier for corporate management to communicate areas for improvement to franchise managers. It also gives franchise managers more opportunity to communicate their ideas to management. With BI, you can seek out specific data points to support your case. Next time you want to express an idea to management, you can do so armed with the evidence to prove your idea is a good one.

BI improves communication, and better communication makes it significantly easier to develop plans independently, gain approval, execute strategies and demonstrate success.

BI is the tool, culture is the determinant

Business intelligence delivers possibilities, but human culture dictates outcomes. No matter what technological tools a company chooses to use, its culture remains the most vital component of its success. Within a healthy culture, business intelligence can provide data and insights that open more doors. Autonomy is essential to opportunity, and so is data.

Data doesn't define you, action does

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