Business intelligence plays a more and more important role in modern companies. In short, business intelligence product helps your company make more informed decisions and obtain a more thorough insight from the data you process. However, finding a perfect business intelligence tool that will satisfy your needs and help you achieve various business goals can be tricky. After all, there are dozens of business intelligence products commercially available. What will help you make an informed decision?
Consider this article a thorough guide on how to find and pick the perfect business intelligence product. We are going to show you the crucial factors that have to be taken into consideration and questions you have to ask before you make the decision. Let’s cut straight to the chase.
How business intelligence product aids modern companies?
As you already know (from our previous blog posts), business intelligence combines and analyzes big data that your company processes. As a result, BI tools help you to turn big data into useful knowledge. Generally speaking, we could say that it’s a common expression to describe all strategies and technologies used by companies for the data analysis of business information.
Typically, the business intelligence product is used for:
- What-If Analysis: Thanks to historical data, organizations can predict an outcome of a given decision or adjustment.
- Obtaining insightful operational reports: You can generate almost any kind and type of such a report, but they are commonly used to indicate the company’s best and worst-performing aspects.
- Analyzing big data: At some point, the business intelligence product is the only way to analyze big data in your company. If you want to know what happens within your company, you simply need a BI-based solution.
As you may have guessed, there are dozens of various business intelligence products available on the market. Picking the best one can be tricky, especially when it’s the very first such solution in your company. Thankfully, we know how to pick the best tool, and we are happy to share this knowledge with you!
How to pick a business intelligence product?
Actually, you should approach this question as any other issue. Gather as much knowledge as you can, analyze possible options and your expectations, and make a choice. Easier said than done? Without a doubt, that’s why we have to dig a bit deeper.
How to pick a business intelligence product: DO SOME RESEARCH
The more you know about business intelligence products and your needs, the more informed decision you can make. Try to find out more about business intelligence. What is it all about? Which tools are available? What are their features and possibilities? What can they offer and for how much? With this knowledge, you will have a much more comprehensive point of view, allowing you to make the optimal choice.
Furthermore, many companies work with AI consulting firms like Addepto. In this scenario, it’s our responsibility to choose the perfect business intelligence tool on your behalf. Perhaps it’s the solution for you, especially if you don’t have enough time or want to focus on growing your business. We fully understand that and willingly help companies with their BI needs.
How to pick a business intelligence product: WHAT DO YOU NEED IT FOR?
Seemingly obvious but critical question. In fact, it should be your starting point. You have to know what you are going to use it for. Do you want to analyze your performance more thoroughly? Or maybe make more accurate future predictions? Or just see what can/should be done better? With these answers, you will be able to find a tool that offers precisely what you need. Don’t fall into the trap of purchasing a got-it-all tool that’s expensive and difficult to configure.
Especially if you run an SME, keep it simple. Don’t waste your money on buying a product that will not be useful in your particular situation.
How to pick a business intelligence product: WHO IS IT FOR?
In general, business intelligence tools can be divided into two main categories:
- For business users
- For analysts
There are some significant differences between them, and you have to be aware of these differences before you make a purchase. Solutions designed for business users are usually much easier to master and configure. They offer a user-friendly interface and a more robust end-user functionality. Here, you will find functions like drag-and-drop design, extensive filtering, drill-downs, and computed fields.
On the other hand, BI tools for analysts are more customizable and advanced, but they require coding to set them up and configure.
How to pick a business intelligence product: START WITH YOUR DATA
You have to know that your business intelligence product is only as good as the data you possess. Business intelligence tools are designed to make the most of the data in your company. If it’s incomplete, outdated, or scattered around different devices and databases, you’re in dire straits.
You can pick the most efficient BI tool, but if you can’t provide it with relevant data, it’s all in vain. That’s why you have to organize your data first. Business intelligence product frequently works with data warehouses. These storage platforms also require clean and organized data. If you already have a data warehouse, most likely, your data is properly organized. If you don’t, start with the data warehouse. Above all, get acquainted with the ETL process. In May 2020, we published an article fully devoted to the data warehouse design question. It’s a good moment to read it!
But let’s say you already have organized and clean data, and you already use data warehouses. Now, it’s time to pick the best business intelligence product. What features should it have? And what should it offer?
Pick the best business intelligence product: Features
Today, many business intelligence products are fully adjusted to the modern working environment, but still, make sure the product of your choice ticks all the right boxes:
INTEGRATION WITH CURRENT SYSTEMS
Today, companies store data in various sources and formats, just to mention Excel files, CRMs, and ERPs. Each of these applications has its own requirements and settings.
Make sure the business intelligence product you’ll choose will be able to integrate with your data warehouse and other data sources within your company. In other words, the perfect business intelligence tool supports and integrates data from different sources.
IS IT EASY TO USE AND INTUITIVE?
As always, you should pick a tool that’s easy to use and intuitive. This is particularly important when there’s more than one person in your company who will be responsible for working with this tool. No one likes to work with a problematic, unfriendly tool that’s poorly designed. Thankfully in most cases, that’s a thing of the past, but keep that in mind. See the interface and play with it before you make a purchase. Pay extra attention to model creation, user interfaces, and defining workflows as these are the crucial elements of every business intelligence product.
Moreover, verify if your tool has enough accessible filters and search options. After all, this is what they are designed for.
IS IT SECURE?
Nowadays, cybersecurity is not only a buzzword but a necessity. In many instances, your business intelligence product will work on sensitive business data. Therefore, it has to be 100% secure. Find out what security measures (encryption mechanism, passwords, verification procedures) are applied in order to protect sensitive data. At this point, it is also vital to verify the security of your data warehouse and other tools that utilize sensitive information.
DOES IT OFFER LEGIBLE DATA VISUALIZATION?
In fact, data visualization plays an essential role in business intelligence. A transparent data visualization feature helps you understand data, trends, and possible scenarios. And that’s what BI is for!
Make sure your business intelligence product shows everything in a straightforward and transparent way, and generating various graphs and charts does not cause any problems.
IS IT MOBILE-FRIENDLY?
Again, today, it’s a standard option, but verify it before you sign the agreement. You will see for yourself how useful it can be to have a decent mobile version of the BI app, especially if you travel a lot or have offices in different countries. Quick access via your smartphone or tablet is a massive simplification of work.
ON-PREMISE VS. CLOUD ACCESS
Both solutions have many pros and cons. Nowadays, more popular are cloud solutions. Typically, they are cheaper (especially when it comes to the upfront investment) and quicker to implement. On the other hand, on-premise access can offer a greater ability to customize various elements, and you have full control over your product. Compare both these approaches to business intelligence and pick the one that suits your needs.
Take all of these aspects into consideration before you make a decision. You’ll be able to choose a tool that will significantly improve your work and the decision-making process. As we’ve already said, there are tens of various business intelligence products on the market. You can take a look at some recommended tools:
- Periscope Data
And if you need help with business intelligence in your company–our team is at your service! Addepto is an AI consulting company; we work with various business intelligence tools and challenges every day. Make the most of our experience and knowledge today.