Using Business Intelligence to Improve Business Performance

Nowadays, data is highly valuable to businesses, and it is managed with great care from its proper storage to its distribution and utilization. Business intelligence (BI) and analytics empower businesses to achieve greater heights by providing and conveying a more comprehensible set of data.

One great example that illustrates how BI can take a business to a whole new level is the success of Netflix. Let’s examine how the multi-billion-dollar company has used—and continues to use—data analysis to make game-changing decisions and develop its groundbreaking service.

Netflix: From Evolution to Revolution

Netflix is the world’s leading online entertainment service. It provides its 130 million subscribers with the convenience of having access to movies, TV series, and documentaries right at their fingertips. Known first as an online DVD rental company, Netflix set up a separate streaming business in 2007—making it the pioneer in online media streaming. In 2013, they began introducing and releasing new and original Netflix content.

So how did Netflix pull it off?

How did this radical move work so well for them?

The answer is business intelligence.

Netflix’s “Rule of Ones”

With Netflix’s decision to stream, it faced one challenging aspect of the business—coexistence. They had to learn how to make it thrive with their existing DVD mail-in service. Streaming entailed storage problems, server issues, larger data set demands . . . the list went on.

To address the growing pains of such an innovation, Netflix devised the following action plan:

One cloud

Netflix moved all storage from internal data centers to one cloud care of Amazon Web Services. This enhanced their ability to:

  • Provide swift computing resources for growth through a high-scale open source data processing platform
  • Allow massive data analyses to graph traffic patterns for different types of devices across several markets
  • Improve the reliability of every video feed on multiple platforms
  • Prevent sluggish network traffic through network capacity expansions
  • Analyze customer preferences
  • Plan for the upcoming growth of media streaming
  • Save money by limiting hardware and in-house data centers

One set of standards-based technologies

Experiences built from WebKit and HTML5 paved the way for Netflix to hit TV screens, Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, mobile phones, and tablets. This further allowed Netflix to:

  • Make use of the amazing features like querySelector API, CSS animations and transitions, CSS transforms, localStorage, cross-origin resource sharing, etc.
  • Enhance development cycles for user interfaces on connected devices
  • Prevent individual application development for each device framework encountered
  • Independence from CE manufacturers on firmware updates for bug fixes or UI changes
  • Test UIs and observe how users interacted with new interfaces
  • Determine the most efficient interface by redirecting different users to different web pages that provided different experiences

One SAP software

Netflix’s success is also mainly attributed to their usage of Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing (SAP) software. Currently, they are known for using SAP BusinessObjects, which has been proven useful in delivering business intelligence to browsers, inboxes, spreadsheets, HDTVs, and mobile devices. Due to its universality, BusinessObjects is a convenient and efficient tool for executives and decision-makers. Executives are unhindered in calling the shots regardless of the type of device they carry, the browser they rely on, and the application they prefer to use.

Critically-Acclaimed Shows Because of BI

You’ve likely heard of the series House of Cards. Now entering its sixth and final season, the original Netflix series was created to quench modern society’s thirst for political and cynical storylines. The creators made a decisive leap to produce content without any third-party involvement, and the very success of the series is credited to the company’s use of BI.

To ensure the show’s success, Netflix utilized clever analytics to discover the following findings:

The show itself

The show is based on the British TV trilogy aired in 1990. The BI software’s models led Netflix to the hugely forgotten show, which eventually encouraged them to purchase the old show’s license.

The main character

A cunning and deceitful politician, the show’s former protagonist—played by Kevin Spacey, who was fired last year following multiple accusations of sexual abuse—shocked and perturbed audiences as he rose to power through corruption and murder.

The director

David Fincher, who directed the first two episodes and is one of the show’s executive producers, also contributed to its massive success. The director of The Social Network already had a commendable quantity of followers thanks to his previous projects, which the analytics pinpointed as a major factor in the show’s overall reception.

The saved resources

The trailers, casting, color palette selections, and character personas were all determined by the company’s BI processes, thus saving them a ton of time and money throughout the production run.

Netflix’s Must-See List

Netflix uses predictive analytics to recommend movies. Not only that, but it also uses both real-time and personalized information, basing it mostly on:

The subscriber’s preferences

Netflix tracks everything you’ve streamed and helps you find related content with ease. So finishing the two seasons of Daredevil provides you easy access to The Defenders and each of the standalone series. Moreover, there is a My List panel for every show or movie you enjoy watching.

Oldies but goodies

This gives the subscriber the privilege to rewatch highly-rated shows of the past like The X-Files, 30 Rock, and Friends.


A show you rated with five stars prompts Netflix to customize your homepage by displaying the movies and series you like the most.

Smart groupings

Every genre has a panel, which makes Netflix’s entire catalog easy to sift through. You can find Kevin Hart stand-up comedy shows grouped together, all animated films bundled up in another panel, and Korean drama in the next. Netflix has efficiently put all similar content together for a convenient user experience.

Final Thoughts

As BI continues to change the landscape of the business world, we begin to understand the ripple effect it can create. BI can impact a multitude of fields and solve many of the common challenges faced by today’s businesses—from data storage and content management to financial management, customer service, product design, and so much more. With business intelligence, companies can make better-informed decisions and devise strategic plans to reach their goals.

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About the author

Danielle Canstello is party of the content marketing team at Pyramid Analytics. They provide enterprise level analytics and business intelligence software. In her spare time, she writes around the web to spread her knowledge of the marketing, business intelligence and analytics industries.

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