Self-service Business Intelligence Tools For Small Businesses – By Casey Gillette; It’s no secret that the business intelligence (BI) market is growing. In fact, a recent Gartner report shows that global revenues in the business intelligence and analytics market are expected to reach $16.9 billion in 2016, an increase of 5.2 percent from 2015. For those working in this sector, the growth figures are not surprising. Businesses have more data than ever before and they need to access it easily and efficiently. Furthermore, consumer behavior is constantly changing and understanding that behavior is essential to business success. For businesses looking to use BI tools, this software can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you don’t know how to use the platform or don’t know exactly what you’re trying to find. Many tools offer extensive features, and without proper staffing or training, companies can waste time and money on little-used software. How do you make sure your business chooses the right BI platform? There’s no easy answer, but to help you make a more informed decision, we’ve outlined nine important things you should know about business intelligence software.
“What kind of results can we expect from this campaign?”: If you’re in charge of marketing in your organization, you’ve probably heard this question hundreds of times. Although you can use past trends and campaign data to make educated guesses, you can’t provide exact numbers.
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However, BI tools allow you to go beyond educated guesses. The caveat is that companies must first understand their goals and objectives before they can understand what the data is telling them. This is especially true because many platforms have a feature, predictive analytics, which is a more advanced analysis of data that looks for patterns to predict future outcomes. Predictive analytics can’t accurately predict the future, but it can help companies reduce risk and identify opportunities faster. With this type of comprehensive information available, you need to know what your goals are.
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According to Scott Schlesinger, senior vice president and head of business information management at Capgemini, “One of the biggest mistakes in leading an analytics initiative is jumping in too quickly without knowing what the company wants to do.”
BI tools contain a large subset of features. But if you don’t know what defines your organization’s success, you’re just making a scientific guess. Before you set foot on the BI path, make sure you have established goals and objectives for the project and the company as a whole.
One of the biggest benefits of BI software is its ability to take all your existing data and integrate it to create master reports. This is no easy task, and to accomplish it, you need to be able to integrate your BI tools with your existing systems.
Before evaluating vendor possibilities, identify any systems or platforms currently in use internally. This includes, but is not limited to, CRM systems, financial systems, databases, analytics platforms, Microsoft Office, project management platforms, etc. By understanding what you currently have, you can choose a platform that can integrate effectively with your existing data.
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One of the defining features of any BI platform is the ability to generate real-time reports. While this process used to be tedious and nearly impossible for the average user, many platforms are now more user-friendly, allowing almost anyone to search the database and generate reports.
Like anything else, users need to know what to look for. It’s much easier if those reports are set up ahead of time. When thinking about your company’s BI needs, ask the following questions:
As you start answering these questions, you’ll get a better picture of what you want. More importantly, you can start buying from inside stockholders.
Think about the last time you bought yourself a new piece of technology. You probably spent time reading instructions, watching YouTube videos, and playing with it before you learned how to use all of its features.
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When was the last time you did this with some new technology at work? When implementing new technology in an organization, it is essential that the team using the platform is trained and given the necessary materials to use the product successfully.
Steve Litwin, president of Litcom, said: “Today’s BI systems are complex structures that require a lot of training before users can get real value from them. And users require ongoing training to become familiar and comfortable with the systems. “
When choosing a BI tool, plan and budget for training and support. Motivate your team to learn about all its features in detail and give them the resources they need to learn to use it effectively.
To gain an understanding of internal users and their common needs, put together some use cases before diving into the BI platform. By outlining some possible examples of how internal stakeholders might use the tool, the IT team and integration team can work to create a front-end dashboard that fits each scenario. And as it turns out, this is a critical factor in BI success.
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“About 70 to 80 percent of enterprise business intelligence projects fail,” says Patrick Meehan, president and research director of Gartner’s CIO Research Group. The problem comes from communication between IT and the business and not asking the right questions or thinking about the real needs of the business.
It seems like every day there is a security breach somewhere around the world. And if that sounds like it, that’s because as of May, there have already been 348 recorded data breaches in 2016. Additionally, a recent report from Verizon shows that non-US breaches are increasing at a rapid pace.
Security should play a role in both vendor selection and internal use. When choosing a BI platform, especially one that offers cloud storage, Gartner recommends asking:
Data compliance and governance should also be defined internally. The same Verizon report mentioned above found that 172 security incidents in 2015 were caused by insider attacks (77 percent of which were employee-related).
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Keep your IT team aware of who is using these devices and make sure you have set strict permissions, along with other measures.
Perhaps the most common advice you’ll see when choosing a BI tool is to focus on platform flexibility. As your business and database grows and technology changes, you want your software to be able to adapt. Ideally, you’ll want to work with a salesperson who is friendly.
Don’t get confused as you think about your BI needs. Think about what you want to get from the platform in the near and long term. They may include:
Look now for a solution that suits your needs and look for a company that will work with you to meet your needs later.
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Adding a BI solution to your organization is no small endeavor. Spend a lot of time assessing needs and asking questions—a lot of questions! A good salesperson will work with you to answer any questions you have and provide resources, demos, references, and more.
Not sure what questions to ask? Checkpoint Consulting also has a great list, as does Big Data Made Simple. Some essential questions are:
There are many questions to ask, but the goal is to make sure you have all the information you need to make good decisions for your business.
Last but not least, be patient. There will be a learning curve throughout the organization as everyone understands how to navigate the platform and use it more effectively. A good BI solution should help improve efficiency in an organization, but remember that new processes take time. This functionality may not be available immediately.
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We live in a data-driven world, and companies need to understand how they collect that data and how they use it in a way that benefits the entire business. Business intelligence solutions are evolving. Although choosing a BI solution for your company may seem daunting, it can be beneficial in the long run.
As a McKinsey Global Institute study shows: “Business decisions based on data-driven insights are 23 times more likely to lead to customer acquisition, six times more likely to retain customers, and more likely to be profitable.” It is 19 times more.” Start can put the data to work for you and see results quickly!
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