How Custom Software Platforms Revolutionize Business Intelligence

Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series is a collection of contributed articles written by thought leaders in enterprise technology. In this feature, Solwey Consulting CEO Andrew Drach offers commentary on how custom software platforms are set to revolutionize business intelligence. Do you have quantified efficiency or productivity measures of your business […]

Unlocking the Power of Data: How Custom Software Platforms Revolutionize Business Intelligence

Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series is a collection of contributed articles written by thought leaders in enterprise technology. In this feature, Solwey Consulting CEO Andrew Drach offers commentary on how custom software platforms are set to revolutionize business intelligence.

Do you have quantified efficiency or productivity measures of your business processes? Can you quantify the cost of your customer acquisition or retention? Do you know the amount of profit returned to your business as a result of your dollar investments in each marketing or advertising channel? While none of us has a crystal ball to peer into the future, does your organization have any insight into what lies around the next corner for your industry?

The modern business world demands smart decision-making and forward-thinking strategy for mere survival — and hopefully success. Business analytics and business intelligence are essential for companies to make data-driven decisions, yet the deluge of data businesses generate in today’s digital age makes interpreting and analyzing all that information to make the right decision at the right time incredibly challenging.

Worse yet, the cost and complexity surrounding implementing and leveraging effective business analytics solutions appear as daunting barriers for entirely too many businesses. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of business intelligence, the need for cost-effective business analytics solutions, and how companies can harness data to upgrade their efficiency, productivity, decision-making, and performance.

Custom Software Business Intelligence

The Challenge of Big Data

The era of automation transforms how organizations across industries operate, creating extensive amounts of information about each business’s operations, customers, and markets. With the proliferation of digital technologies and the increasing amount of data generated, companies have more information than ever at their fingertips — but that is not necessarily an advantage.

This explosion of data challenges businesses to consolidate and process data from disparate internal, cloud-based, and third-party sources quickly enough to glean legitimate value. The sheer volume can make extracting meaningful insights an arduous endeavor. Traditional data analysis methods may not be suitable for analyzing large, complex data sets, while new tools and technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence are complicated and expensive.

When data comes in disparate formats and from multiple sources, cleaning and normalizing the data is essential before the information can be analyzed effectively. However, data is often clustered and databases are designed for storing data, not for accessing and analyzing it, so this process can be time-consuming and demands data literacy and specialized skills and resources, such as subject matter expertise, which can be expensive. Arguably, the data cleaning and preprocessing steps are the most time-consuming yet the most important in the entire business intelligence process.

Business intelligence solutions empower businesses with valuable insights to make data-driven decisions and identify new opportunities for growth. Unfortunately, implementing an effective business analysis strategy but leveraging the wrong data can be a wasteful experience since the fanciest and most expensive data analytics tools will still give you no insight given bad data: garbage in, garbage out.

Step One: Determine Your Business Objectives

Before embarking along the path to developing a comprehensive business analytics strategy, defining your objectives is an essential first step. Whether the aim is to increase revenue, improve customer satisfaction, gain a greater market share, enhance your brand reputation or optimize operational efficiency, identifying your specific objectives and aligning your business intelligence strategy accordingly is the only way to effectively achieve those goals. A clear understanding of your business objectives will guide the selection of tools and technologies that ultimately align with your goals.

The definition process involves identifying the data points that are critical to your business and what insights you hope to gain from monitoring them over time. Without that clear understanding, companies risk collecting and analyzing irrelevant or incomplete data, leading to incorrect conclusions and poor decision-making. By identifying the data you need to collect and analyze to make informed decisions, your organization can focus its efforts on accumulating and assessing data relevant and helpful to meet — and exceed — your goals.

Additionally, identifying which objectives are more critical than others can help shape a business intelligence strategy focused on analyzing the outcomes most likely to have the greatest impact on the business. Determining where your priorities lie can help you track progress against well-defined objectives, assess the effectiveness of your business intelligence strategy and make adjustments as needed to achieve the goals that will boost your business.

The Importance of Cost-Effective Business Analytics

Essential for companies to make data-driven decisions, business analytics, and business intelligence tools help businesses glean legitimate value from their data and make informed decisions to unlock competitive advantage.

From data integration, warehousing, and mining to reporting and analysis and dashboarding and visualization, business intelligence tools can integrate and store data from various sources — databases, spreadsheets, cloud-based services, etc. — to create a unified view of the organization’s data. By extracting insights and patterns from large data sets using statistical and machine learning techniques, these tools aid in identifying trends and relationships in the data, unearthing a clear and concise view of performance and areas for improvement. But many of them are prohibitively expensive or difficult for non-technical users to leverage.

A cost-effective approach to business intelligence involves identifying the most critical data points and focusing on solutions that deliver the most value. While popular business intelligence tools like Power BI, Tableau, and QlikView empower businesses with powerful analytics capabilities, users often experience friction that can hinder their ability to extract insights from their data.

Common challenges include:

  • High monthly bills
  • Difficulty in data integration
  • Technical complexity
  • Limited accessibility
  • Data quality (this is the biggest challenge, which is not even related to
    the selected tool)
  • Inadequate visualization

Users face various challenges that can impact the accuracy and completeness of business intelligence analysis, disrupting the ability to derive insights and drive informed decisions. To overcome these challenges, developers, and organizations must ensure that business intelligence tools are designed with user needs in mind, providing easy-to-use interfaces, intuitive interactive visualization, extensive training, and comprehensive support to help users navigate the software effectively.

The Future of Business Intelligence is Context Sensitive

At the end of the day, businesses increasingly recognize the value of data analysis and the need to leverage business intelligence tools to stay competitive. While many organizations struggle to realize their data’s full potential due to data explosion or difficulties with current tools, custom software platforms can offer users the same data analytical capabilities that companies like Google do for a fraction of the cost.

Each business needs to evaluate its own objectives and data for conducting business intelligence analyses. Paying high monthly subscription costs to the most advanced BI tools in the market will never resolve data integration, formatting or other quality issues. Paying data engineers and gurus to design the data collection, quality control, processing, transfer, integration, and verification workflows and systems would probably be more cost-effective than a one-year subscription to a fancy BI tool.

Professional custom software development agencies can build a context-sensitive tool leveraging open-source technologies, cloud-based services, agile development methodology, user-centered design, and scalable architecture. Customized solutions empower organizations to integrate data from different sources — such as Google Analytics, Shopify, inventory management and enterprise resource planning software, and more — to provide users with intuitive interfaces and create interactive visualizations tailored to each organization’s specific needs and facilitate data-driven decision-making. If scoped and managed properly, a custom BI tool (or at least an MVP version) can be developed within several weeks and would probably cost less than one year of subscribing to an elaborate tool.

With custom software, you’re equipped with a cost-effective data analysis and business intelligence solution, helping you compete in our increasingly data-centric business environment.

Andrew Drach
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