Business intelligence is an umbrella term for applications, tools, and processes that convert your raw data into actionable insights. Insights that help you make better decisions cut costs and identify new opportunities. The term ‘Business Analytics’ can be used as an alternative while Advanced Analytics, as the term suggests, is an advance phase of Business Analytics.
As organisations realise the power of data, and Analytics platform becomes a must have. Executives usually ponder on how to create an Analytics strategy or roadmap and select the best Business Intelligence platform that suits the business. However, there are a couple of things you need to weigh before you loosen the purse strings.
1. Keep yourself first:
Go for the Business Intelligence platform that suits your operations and end-users. Not what others bought, not what ranks high on the BI charts and certainly not what a sales rep is trying to shove down your throat.
Trust Your IT Department
Your I.T. people are the best ones to conduct a study on what suits you. If you struggle with your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software a lot and need support from the vendor or IT staff. Hence, there is a high probability that you would continue looking for support if you buy the Business Intelligence platform from the same vendor. However, if your ERP gives you peace than things may continue the same way.
A good starting point is knowing your current and future business requirements, key performance indicators, success criteria, anticipated changes, strengths and limitations, improvements required, nature of critical business decisions. Both BI analysts and your end-users should focus on these unknowns beforehand. What you do know is your data size, and estimated increase over five to ten years. This would tell you to go for an enterprise solution or a simple dash-boarding tool. (details in section 4.)
2. The integral integrations with Business Intelligence Platform:
How many applications are running in your organisation and what databases are storing your data. Yes, this is your organisation’s infrastructure. Such information may include details of the amount of data being accessed by each user group, types of applications used by them, the number of users, and specifications. Although one tool may address the needs of multiple users; however, the whole package of tools used may not be required for all kinds of users. Another necessary feature is the data integration capability of the Business Analytics platform. Your purchase should integrate data from various sources or applications running in your organisation and present items to decision-makers in an intuitive way. Cloud or on-premise? What do you prefer as a business? how would the tool be used? , and what are your current data management practices?
3. The Business Intelligence / Analytics Roadmap
Furthermore, the Business Intelligence platform should enable you to see through your Business Analytics roadmap. For example, if you foresee advanced analytics coming in to play later down the road. The platform should have integration with tools that enable Advanced Analytics. Techniques used for prescriptive and predictive analytics like machine learning models, data from devices (IoT), and AI or the use/integration with Big Data or data from social media.
4. The Market:
The next step is; Knowing the tools available in the market. The search begins with knowing categories of Business Analytics tools available, once all organisational requirements have been gathered. Most common tools often fall in the category of data reporting, traditional dashboard tools, multidimensional applications, data-mining, and visualisation tools. If we group all of them in two basic categories, you either have an enterprise Business Intelligence platform or pure dashboards and reporting tools. Your requirements determine what you should select. On one hand a simple reporting tool for massive data will slow things down. However, buying a huge enterprise solution for limited needs and data would prove costly, and many features will remain unexplored.
5. The Test Drive for Business Intelligence Platform:
Before you buy take a test drive, almost all the vendors give out free trials or demo versions of their Business Analytics platform. Your IT people and end-users can evaluate such features. What you may want to look for besides the criteria defined above are features like; user-friendliness, look and feel of dashboards, integration with map services, license costs, support mechanism, local or partner presence, etc.
Actionable Insights, Think Analytics, Make informed decisions!!