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How Business Intelligence Software Ruins the 6 Best Business Movies

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There’s no story without conflict.

And that’s a good thing. The more conflict, the better. “Star Wars” without the wars would be two hours of Luke Skywalker staring at the horizon. “The Lord of the Rings” without Sauron would nine hours of hobbits walking. “The Lion King” without Scar would have subjected audiences to an extra forty-odd minutes of Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

But while fictional stories thrive on conflict, your business doesn’t. You want success. That’s where business intelligence software comes in.

Business intelligence software is great for your story, but horrible for fictional stories. Why? BI software solves problems before they happen.

Here’s the six best business movies where business intelligence software would have ruined the plot.

(Spoiler alert for the movies below.)

1. “Moneyball”

By now, “Moneyball’s” (true!) story is famous: Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane uses number crunching and unconventional thinking to get his scrappy ball club to the big time. What might be less famous is the fact that his data-driven approach is available to anyone who can afford business intelligence software.

Beane’s success depends on information. He first had to realize which data points were key performance indicators (KPIs). In figuring this out, he came up against some older, outmoded ideas of which KPIs are important:

This scene is about measuring the wrong KPIs. The older scouts believed things like “a beautiful swing” and “a lot of pop coming off the bat” are reliable measurements of success. Billy Beane didn’t. He realized that the A’s needed to measure different things, but didn’t know what.

How BI software would ruin the movie, but help your business: “Moneyball’s” conflict is about how a poor team compete with the rich ones by discovering the insights hidden in data. With BI software, that discovery’s as easy as drag-and-drop. For a department with business intelligence, Billy Beane’s eureka moment is part of the day-to-day. And while day-to-day success is great for a business, it doesn’t make for an engaging good-to-bad montage.

BI software allows you to compare different variables, and see which data points are important. In Beane’s case, the data point was on base percentage (OBP). He realized that emphasizing players with higher OBP (rather than, say, higher batting averages) increased the A’s chances of winning.

Determining which KPIs are the most valuable isn’t easy, but business intelligence software can help you figure out which are the most lucrative. For instance, you may find that social shares better correspond with higher revenue than page visits. Or you might find that there’s a correlation between the time readers spend on a page, and how well that page converts.

In the case of boat rental service Boatsetter, BI software from Grow helped them realize that the most valuable KPIs were “channel efficiency, lead status, types of boat booked, and ROI of promotional campaigns.”

2. “Glengarry Glen Ross”

David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” is frequently cited as a great business movie. Its focus on desperation, greed, and the cutthroat world of sales provides a bleak, albeit incisive, depiction of business’s darker side. Plus, the twist at the end will floor you.

The plot revolves around a handful of salesmen trying to convert on bad sales leads. They’re told that their main office “paid good money for those leads,” and thus won’t accept anything but success. If they fail, they’re fired.

Headphones out—the following clip’s language is not work-friendly:

How BI software would ruin the movie, but help your business: I hate to spoil Mamet’s second-best piece of work (I’ll fight anyone who says “Homicide” isn’t the best thing he’s done), but “Glengarry” wouldn’t have a plot if they’d had business intelligence software. Business intelligence software could have helped the main office realize that, yes, those leads were bad. There goes the competition between salesmen, and there goes Mamet’s chance to give us his beautifully bleak view of human nature.

A program such as Microsoft Power BI can show you where your leads convert, and where they don’t. This video provides a great demonstration of the surprises you’ll find when you check your data.

Lead generation from Microsoft Power BI

In the video, the narrator describes how a school supply company found something surprising about their leads: the biggest states weren’t the best bets. Though you’d think populous, wealthy states like California and New York would provide the best leads, it turns out Georgia and Wyoming saw the most conversions.

A program such as Microsoft Power BI makes this information apparent and readily available, so you’re less likely to look for sales in the wrong places.

While this is great for that school supply company, it would be awful for “Glengarry’s” plot.

Want to know which software programs could help you find the right customers? Check out the business intelligence software directory and see which one is right for you!

3. “Jerry Maguire”

You know what’s coming here:

Show me the money!

It took you twenty years to get that out of your head. Surprise! It’s back in! But trust me, the earworm is worth it for what I’m about to tell you about BI.

In case you didn’t see “Jerry Maguire,” though, a brief summary: sports agent (Tom Cruise) loses everything but one client (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), strikes out on his own with that single client, finds love, success, and happiness, despite having a business relationship with the Arizona Cardinals.

You’ll find this one on a lot of business movie lists for its portrayal of the ups and downs of the business world, of the dedication and sacrifice required when you start your own entrepreneurial venture, and, of course, for the catch phrases (“You had me at hello”).

How BI software would ruin the movie, but help your business: Here’s what “Jerry Maguire” would look like with BI software: Cuba Gooding, Jr. calls Tom Cruise, asks him to show him the money, and is sent a screenshot of the current dashboard that shows revenue and leads data. Both parties exchange pleasantries and hang up. Work continues (just not for Cuba Gooding, Jr….I’m here till Thursday).

Business intelligence software could have saved this country a cliche. It’s that valuable.

Business intelligence shows you the money you didn’t realize you had. For instance, real estate developer The Cliffs found that using Domo’s BI solution saved them up to 40% by cutting down on the time their sales staff needed to run reports. Time is money, and the easily accessible information The Cliffs got from Domo found them more of both.

The same was true for CueMath, an Indian math tutoring startup. CueMath needed their data easily available, and BI vendor Periscope provided them with that solution. Instead of spending time on designing analytics solutions—an up to three-month process before Periscope—Periscope got CueMath’s dashboards up and running in a few days.

4. “Trading Places”

“Trading Places” follows a hustler (Eddie Murphy) and a commodities broker (Dan Aykroyd) who trade places, Prince and the Pauper-style. They wind up switched as the result of a callous, casual bet made by the multi-millionaire Duke brothers that the haves (Aykroyd) and the have-nots (Murphy) would be different people if they switched social classes.

The film’s climax revolves around a report on an upcoming orange crop. The Duke brothers find a way to (illegally) get a hold of the USDA crop report, which will allow them to (again, illegally) corner the market. Murphy and Aykroyd conspire to switch out this report with a fake one.

How BI software would ruin the movie, but help your business: Murphy and Aykroyd’s plan revolves around nabbing the Dukes’ stolen forecast of the upcoming orange harvest. They leverage this information to make millions in a few minutes, get some well-deserved vengeance on the Dukes, and retire in style.

“Trading Places” revolves around forecasts and data. With BI software with predictive analytics, however, there wouldn’t need to be that much fuss.

Business intelligence software can help you predict crop yields without needing to stage an admittedly hilarious heist of a USDA report. BI software can even work with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to make sure farmers get the most out of their crops, even if they have to weather a bad year.

Business intelligence software doesn’t just help with crops, however. Dairy farmers, too, have taken advantage of BI software. Automatic milking machines hooked up to the IoT feed information to software, telling farmers how much milk they’re getting, what the chemical makeup of that milk is, and even “when a particular cow is having problems or could be sick.”

5. “The Andromeda Strain”

“Andromeda Strain’s” a little outside the business realm, but that only demonstrates how universally applicable data and analytics software programs are.

Michael Crichton’s thriller about a destructive, unpredictable alien disease was one of his first efforts, and one of the better film adaptions of his work. In the movie, a disease kills an entire small town of people, leaving only two survivors: an infant and an elderly alcoholic. A team of researchers (code named Wildfire) attempt to find a way for humanity to survive by figuring out which similarity helped the two survive.

How BI software would ruin the movie, but help your business: Roseanne Winn of Izenda explains how Wildfire’s task would have benefited from business intelligence software: “They definitely could have used better analytics to compare biometric data on these two very different individuals to learn what they had in common that kept them alive.”

By plotting the biometrics of the two individuals who survived against those of a deceased control subject, a visualization such as a combo chart would have made it easier to isolate the feature they had in common that enabled them to survive the disease.”

A gif of a combo chart from the Izenda blog

If it was easy to figure out which factor helped the survivors avoid becoming alien victims, the dramatic tension would have been ratcheted way down—BI software would have made one of the greatest sci-fi thrillers of all time as dull as diagnosing a common cold.

But while a combo chart would have been awful for “Andromeda Strain,” it would be great for your business. Combo charts are an easy way to visualize the difference between net and gross profit, or revenue and sales.

Write your own ending: get business intelligence software

Conflict is great for the movies, but not for your business. Your story should be successful, not stressful.

Save the conflict for the movies. Head to the business intelligence software directory, and check out what the programs there can do for your company.

Looking for Business Intelligence software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Business Intelligence software solutions.

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About the Author

Geoff Hoppe

Geoff Hoppe writes about business intelligence and field service management for Capterra. His background is in education and higher ed, but he’s interested these days in how small businesses can use software to be more agile and efficient. When he’s not reading and writing about software, he’s probably reading and writing about history, music and comic books, finding new hikes throughout Virginia, or following the Fighting Irish.

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