BI tools offer a great way for your company to monitor data and generate actionable business insights. Your business desperately needs this information to make better and smarter decisions that drive results.
Business Intelligence system is a suite of tools that are designed to retrieve, sort, consolidate, analyze data and deliver the results in easily digestible formats, charts, maps, graphs for the businesses. As such, the business can use the reports for insights into what needs to be improved and inform the next leg (phase) of decision making.
Your company needs best business intelligence system to achieve strategic goals that include:
- Measuring KPIs.
- Identifying weaknesses, strengths, threats and opportunities.
- Help them see the relations between different datasets so as to make informed decisions.
- Plan for the health of your business.
- Help them generate reports and actionable insights that inform their decision-making.
But, as much as they might sound similar, these terms have clear differences. BI tools use past and current datasets to optimize the present business environment. For example, if you are looking to understanding how your business is doing, make better-informed decisions and create new opportunities for growth, BI tools would make your best friend.
Most used business intelligence tools will map out your situation in real time from past incidents to present and also help you to learn from your past mistakes or successes. As a result, it helps in your decision making moving forward.
Business analytics tools, however, use the past datasets to analyse the current business landscape. That way, you could easily figure out why things are happening, and probably make an intelligent prediction about how things might work out in the future. Business analytics tools combine advanced statistical analysis and predictive modeling to give you an idea of what to expect so that you can anticipate developments or make changes to shape your future outcomes.
Selecting a Business Intelligence software that’s right for your organization which involves gathering and prioritizing your business requirements and identifying the must-have features of your go-to BI tool.
But firstly, you need to have a clear understanding of what your business needs: Different businesses have different needs. So you always need a specialized business intelligence solutionthat would suit the kind of business you are in. For example, if you are in manufacturing, you make a huge joke of yourself if you purchase Sisense to help you optimize your manufacturing process. Probably your marketing team would need that.
Ease of use: Your BI tools should be easy to set up and use. Remember, these tools should be there to create solutions rather than creating more problems for your employees. For any organization or company, data security and ease of use are essential and BI tools should suffice that need.
Privacy: Your privacy and that of your customers should be guaranteed. No one wants a system that exposes their confidential information to unruly employees or cyber-criminals. The business intelligence software you are willing to subscribe to should be able to offer the level of protection your company needs. Go through their terms of services to avoid surprises in future.
Mobile-ready:The Business reporting tool should be such that you can access the information anytime, anywhere and on any device.
Good reporting tools: Choose BI system whose reporting tools are flexible and easy for you to understand and use.
How to evaluate Business Intelligence tools
Now that you already have your requirements on hand, the next thing on the line should be going for the specific BI tool. What do you need to do?
Here are some of theusecases you need to consider:
Consider your finances: What is your working budget? If you are a startup, chances are you are still battling financial challenges. So you will be looking for an effective system that won’t hurt your finances. If you are bigger enterprise, you might want to go for the best systems that efficiently accommodate all your business processes, irrespective of the cost.
Come up with a list of possibilities depending on your use cases: Start by collating and then whittling down your preferred list of potential most used Business Intelligence toolsthat you want to choose from. Besides, get down to looking for a product suite that supports most processes in your business.
Quick guided analysis: Do you want to give your sales reps ability to come up with a recurring snapshot of performance in your company. This is the software you need. As such, you won’t need to keep bugging the developer every time you need to generate a report. The downside to the software (actually what limits it) is the need for the consistent set of accurate data. Unfortunately, for this type of software, your employees might bring in more data or create their own data visualization without the help of a developer.
Guided analysis with integration: This business intelligence tool, like in the previous case, also requires the consistent set of accurate data. But, what makes it different is the ability to integrate with enterprise operating systems or multiple sources of data. That means, your employees could use this system together with the tools they have been used too. Making their work easier and more efficient.
Then there are self-service analysis and personalized reports kind of tools: The Business Intelligence software are more flexible and offer a much more powerful use case. As such, your employees can easily bring in their data from wherever they want and perform extensive data exploration and analysis. But, to fully exploit all the functionality of these systems, you need to train your employees.
Write down the list of your preferred functions and features: Yes, not every feature works for your specific business processes. You should narrow down to systems that not only fit your use case but also give you the specific features and functionality you are looking for.
According to the Head of Sales Ops forCatalant, Jack Montgomery, real-time visibility was the key feature they were interested in when they were looking for BI software.
Jack says, “I think the key to having an effective sales strategy and the sales analytics to support that is having close to, if not real-time visibility into the performance of your salespeople.”
He suggests that you need to classify the features into three categories: “will not use”, “nice to have” and “will use”.That way, you have an easy time while making your choices.
Make your choice after trying your BI software: Even if you think you have found the perfect Business Intelligence software that ticks all the boxes, you should not make a rushed purchasing decision. You need to first try the document for yourself. Ask them for a free version of the document so that you can have a feel for how it works. The free trial version also gives the team who will use the Business Intelligence tool – your sales team – an opportunity to experience the product.
For example, companies like the Amplitude, prefer to experience the product before purchasing it for use in their business. According to the Business Operations Manager at Amplitude, Brian Hernandez:
“Sales cycles have been really quick for vendors that have been able to demonstrate value on our real data, as opposed to working out of a sandbox… We really appreciate when the company has minimized the time it takes for us to realize the value of their offer.”
Reasons you should opt for BI tools
Decision-making process: According to a report by Procedia Computer Science, the main objective of a business intelligence tool system is to provide high-quality information for managerial decision making. Business Intelligence solution changes unstructured data into a meaningful, actionable data that businesses can take advantage of to help make informed strategic decisions.
Boost productivity with actionable data: Traditional data gathering methods are a waste of time. The Business Intelligence software systems help you save time and cost that would otherwise be spent analyzing data in its traditional formats.
Better sales and increase return on investment (ROI): The entire marketing cycles can be monitored easily through marketing dashboard. The dashboard allows users to keep track of customers. You can easily track new customers, monitoring post-sales services, potential leads and consumer conversations.
Gain insight into the customer behavior: BI tool offers companies with the ability to monitor and analyze current data from consumers including, including demographics, buying trends, consumption trends. This data can be used to shape strategic goals that would lead to increased profitability of the business.
Mistakes to avoid while using BI Software tools
There is still a horde of mistakes companies make while using business intelligence tools. And one of these mistakes is forgetting the fundamental framework which leads to failure.
Failure to consult your team: In most of the organization, the executives and the IT team selects the best BI tools without making any consultations with the rest of the employees. As a brilliant manager, you should always ensure you have your employees backing to avoid running into challenges during implementation of the software.
Going for sophisticated tools that put off your users: Often we go for a tool with most functionality and more features. But, the overly complicated system weighs down on your workers, lowering their productivity. They need to be part of this solution. They need to know how it’s going to help them.
Do not know the exact problem you want to solve: Do not just go and get a Business analytics tool because you saw another organization using the same product. You are going to flop massively because each BI tool is designed differently to suit different needs.
Inadequate security measures: To protecting customers and companies, you need to make sure you have met all the legal and security requirements. As such, you will avoid a data breach and the costs of suits that might as a result of security flaws.
How Artificial Intelligence takes Business Intelligence tools to the next level
Many people feel that artificial intelligence (AI) and business intelligence (BI) are separate disciplines. But, the truth is, AI-Powered BI is an idea that should be getting more attention in the modern business space. Despite the current notion that business intelligence system and artificial intelligence are separate disciplines, AI-powered BI is an idea that should get more attention.
So, how does Artificial intelligence take business intelligence tool to the next level?
It solves the challenge of big data overload: As big data grows in variety and volume at a fast rate, companies need to invest in data analytics tools to analyze and aggregate this data. But, to make sense out of it, we need AI-powered tools to transform the data into easy to understand chunks of information.
Shortage of experts: There is a huge shortage of people with analytical expertise around the globe. For instance, according to a report McKinsey there is a need of, over 190,000 professionals experienced in analytical data skills in the U.S.A. That means you would still need to hire these people to make sense of the reports generated by the BI software. However, AI-powered BI provides you with the what you need intelligence and data analysis, fast enough,
Helps deliver real-time insights: The staggering growth of Big Data is overpowering business departments, making it harder for them to make informed strategic decisions. But, thanks to artificial intelligence, the business can now perform real-time analysis of the data and deliver the report in real-time to be acted upon.
Business intelligence tools for small business
Just like large organizations, small and medium businesses are also entitled to data intelligence. Thanks to the emergence of cloud-based BI platforms, even business struggling with cash issues can still benefit from this technology. In fact, cloud computing has enabled over 30% of small business use Business Intelligence analytics. The commonly used cloud-based BI solutions include:
Birst: Birst users gain access to a range of tools commonly found in on-premise solutions. Birst automates data extraction, processing and load process by simply requiring users to upload data into either data marts or data warehouses. The product offers customers some advanced analysis tools: users can create reports, visualize data with pivot tables, and dig deeper into trends, all without needing a dedicated in-house expert.
They also maintain the product as part of the subscription fee while clients gain all-time access to their cloud-based Business Intelligence analytics. You can access the data from multiple sources and perform real-time analysis anywhere, anytime, on any internet-enabled device.
QlikView: Another BI cloud-based platform that excels at data visualization. The QlikView BI tool offers users self-service data capabilities along with the ability to scale as needed. This Business Intelligence solution features an inference engine that automatically saves the associations between data. This means that business users only need to load the proper tables to start finding connections between the data in their CRM, social media, and ERP.
Running a successful business in this age of technology requires much flexibility and intuition. And one of the most brilliant ways you can stay ahead involves investing in powerful business intelligence tools. These BI solutions give you the intelligence you need to identify where your business is going wrong and make informed strategic decisions.