By 2020, the research company Gartner predicts the market for business intelligence and analytics tools will reach $22.8 billion (€20.8 billion). Indeed, enterprises everywhere have begun to recognise the potential and power of a strong BI system, and a number of companies now produce their own platforms for analysing your data.
Now that you have a thorough understanding and can answer the question, “What is business intelligence?” as well as break down the advantages it offers, you can start your search for the perfect BI software to suit your organisational needs.
Before you commit to a new business intelligence software, there are seven important criteria to consider.
- A low learning curve. Historically, business intelligence was managed by IT departments. However, the individuals most likely to leverage BI insights for decision making usually are not developers or IT specialists. As BI increases in popularity, many platforms have become far more user-friendly. Among most organisations, it’s important that the BI solution purchased is intuitive enough that anyone can use it. Research from Gartner suggests that employee adoption rates for business intelligence tools are around 30%. To offset the cost of BI software, managers should only select a tool a majority of their team members can and will use.
- Cloud-based hosting. To share access, reports, and insights easily with other team members, get a BI tool that works seamlessly in the cloud. That way, you can also use it on the go and ensure you always have the data you need to make a confident and informed business decision as soon as new opportunities arise.
- Excellent account support. In addition to a low learning curve, you also want to license a business intelligence software that offers video walkthroughs; built-in explanations for different features; email, phone, and live chat support; and a client-friendly service level agreement.
- Firm analyses, conclusions, and explanations. The best business intelligence platform can develop a fully integrated understanding of how things work in your business and which actions, initiatives, and resources help accelerate or stymie organisational progress. The reports and data visualisations should also be easy to read so managers can quickly recognise the consequences certain processes have on your business and the potential impact of specific changes on your long-term success.
- Ongoing development initiatives. While most individuals purchase software to solve today’s problems, it’s wise to learn about the upcoming features that developers will build into their business intelligence tools. That way, you can ultimately license a BI solution that constantly improves and increasingly accommodates your various business needs.
- Seamless integration with existing and future technologies. Some BI platforms require custom integrations with the applications and technologies you use as part of your current analytics stack. To save resources and time, especially as business needs evolve, choose a BI software that is compatible with all the tools in your arsenal as well as software you may add later.
- The ability to accurately and rapidly process millions (potentially billions) of data points. As your business grows and your information-gathering processes mature, you will need a business intelligence solution that can comfortably handle all the data you feed it.
In the past, business intelligence solutions were best suited for big enterprises that could afford to collect and store large amounts of customer and organisational data. These days, even small businesses can benefit from a solid BI platform as they begin to generate lots of data points worth analysing, especially since the insights you derive can have a meaningful impact on your bottom line. Of course, it’s crucial that your organisation maintains good data collection practices, since bad or limited data can lead to false conclusions.
When you gather the right data and apply business intelligence to it, you unlock huge potential to build an even bigger business. In fact, Nucleus Research found that for each dollar companies spent on analytics, on average, that investment generated a $10.66 (€9.76) return in 2011 and $13.01 (€11.91) in 2014. Between the potential revenue gained, costs saved, and efficiency improvements you can tap into with the right BI insights, it’s clear that every organisation should at least consider if they are ready to license and leverage a new business intelligence software.
The author is Danny Wong, founder of Blank Label.
About the author
Danny Wong is an entrepreneur, marketer and writer. He is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company, and leads marketing for Receiptful, a platform to supercharge all customer interactions for eCommerce stores, and Tenfold, a seamless click-to-dial solution for high-performance sales teams.
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