Digital transformation through business intelligence – Darren Turner, Air BI – Nottingham Digital Summit

Posted on 04/07/2019 by Team Hallam

With the Nottingham Digital Summit 2019 now approaching its conclusion, Darren Taylor of Air BI has come to the stage to give a demonstration of how business intelligence can transform a business for the better and improve efficiency.

What is BI? 

The first thing Darren covers is to explain what BI actually is. Business Intelligence (BI) can be described using the example of lego.

The data collected can be compared to jumbled lego blocks. BI will first sort this data into certain categories, such as colour. Then, once the blocks of data have been sorted into colour, it’s possible to arrange the blocks into a proper stack of data. Finally, once everything has been sorted and arranged into stacks, it’s possible to make the blocks of data presentable and proper conclusions can be reached.

Main Challenges of BI

To identify the major challenges faced by businesses that don’t use BI, Darren identified an unnamed global retailer in the USA, they were dealing with complaints, feedback and Lab testing. 3 unrelated teams deal with all 3 of these pieces of information all at once which made handling everything difficult. When Darren came in to help this company become more efficient at handling complaints and handling its data effectively, he recognised a number of challenges, these are:

  • Everything must be low cost due to their status as a retailer
  • They deal with a lot of customer data from many sources and receive 1000s of complaints every day
  • Their central database was aging and inefficient leading 
  • Had an attitude of “always done it this way” and a reluctance to change 

What did they do?

After acknowledging these challenges, Darren used his BI expertise to solve the data problems the organisation was experiencing. Here’s what they did:

  • They built one view of the business and connected people in multiple teams to one version of the data and removed excel files
  • Used deep machine learning to create insights into the data such as understanding why complaints were made and what the root cause of them was
  • Created dashboards to tell product managers where to focus their limited time
  • Increased competitiveness among the retailer by making the team more nimble to problems 


Following Darren’s team’s BI based resolution plan, a number of outcomes were identified by the team. These were:

  • Investment into Bi improved efficiency in the teams. They could work faster and spent less time responding to complaints inefficiently
  • They gained early warning dashboards to prevent problems before they escalated so they could focus their attention on the correct items
  • Reduced complaints by understanding why they happened in the first place
  • Staff felt empowered to make key decisions on data they could actually trust (they couldn’t trust old data in their aging Excel based system)
  • One view allowed teams to plan smarter rather than harder 
  • Built a stronger brand with customers, following up on complaints with suppliers, and giving customers a real answer to problems  

How can you make your first steps into Business Intelligence?

If you’re considering making your first steps into business intelligence following Darren sharing his experiences. Darren recommends Power BI and Zoho Analytics as good places to start and provided a practical tutorial of Power BI during his talk at the Summit. He claims that you are half-way to being able to use Power BI if you’re able to use Microsoft Excel. Furthermore, he recommends moving Excel workbooks online, creating charts and a dashboard and keeping this data up to date. 

After you are set up and proficient with using simple BI software, you could also consider sharing information with customers and even implementing deep machine learning and AI technology.

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Digital transformation through business intelligence – Darren Turner, Air BI – Nottingham Digital Summit

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