How to Choose a BI Tool for Your Business

Jason Catwright | 03.03.18 | 0 Comments

Businesses have always used statistics to not only quantify the effectiveness of historical sales but to also formulate strategies for the future. In the modern world, companies are no different; they want to learn from the past and apply this knowledge to the future. However, many variables are different in the contemporary era.

Today the volume of available data is huge. This undoubtedly presents an opportunity to get deeper insights into companies, and it also creates an inevitable processing challenge. This is where business intelligence comes into play. BI tools help businesses go through GBs of data from multiple sources, within a reasonable amount of time, in turn generating actionable, futuristic insights from it.

The enterprise adaptation of business intelligence has been growing for the past few years now and we can expect the trends to be no different in the years to come. Today, more and more companies are utilizing the prowess of modern BI tools like Sisense to improve their overall decision-making procedures. Here are a few good reasons to invest in a BI system for your business:

Improve efficiency and reduce costs

A data-driven organization saves a lot by harnessing the power of historical data. According to the book Data Driven: Creating a Data culture, United Parcel Service or UPS was able to remove around 20.4 million miles off their routes within a single year after they realized that if their drivers only took right turns (and limited left turns), they would see fuel savings and a huge reduction in time.

Enhance visibility

With business intelligence, you get to answer questions like “Who are the top performers?” and “Which customers should I put more emphasis on?”

Transform data into actionable information

A BI tool like Dundas BI can go through months of data for you and identify key trends and business metrics for you, allowing you to make prudent business decisions in the future.

There are plenty of other reasons why a business intelligence tool is a sound investment for any business but what exactly makes such a tool? Here are a few tips that every business should consider when going to market for a BI tool:

1. Support for multiple data sources:

A business intelligence tool is nothing without data. If you can’t add your company’s data to it without any hassle, then what’s the point? This is why it’s of primary importance that you purchase a BI solution that supports all your data sources. Some of the modern BI tools integrate seamlessly with many data sources like spreadsheets and databases while some require you to write your own scripts to import data; it’s thereby important that you carefully review your options. Answer questions like, “Can this tool connect remotely to my data source and process queries without the need to import data locally?” “How fast does it process a huge pool of data?” “Does it have problems in merging data from multiple sources?” “Can it help me with large amounts of unprocessed data?” and “Can it synchronize with my data source and update data from it on its own?” before you make the final decision.

2. Data visualization:

Another important facet of any business intelligence tool is its ability to visualize information. Tools that score high on the usability front often have intuitive reporting and dashboard features that allow users to see important information without having to do a lot of effort. Dashboards should be customizable and capable of displaying real-time information. It’s also nice to have interactive graphs that come with drill-down options.

3. Dealing with unprocessed data:

Data is always inconsistent and filled with gaps when you first collect it, and that has been a big challenge in the field of data analytics and BI for quite a while now. Some of the fields can be missing some entries while some may contain data that is just simply wrong. You can have text fields that contain misspelled or numeric data, and you can have certain numeric fields containing nonsensical data. Additionally, when data for a specific entity is loaded from multiple sources (say characteristic X of a customer A from information collected via a feedback and from information collected via an inquiry email), there can be some inconsistencies that need to be identified and rectified. A BI tool’s ability to deal with raw, unprocessed data is hence, also very important.

4. Power to analyze:

Another distinguishing feature of a state-of-the-art BI tool is that it gives you many ways to analyze cleaned data. From plotting data in various graphs and applying basic analysis on ancient data to predicting future trends based on various data models, your tool should be able to do it all with ease.

5. Usability

Ease of use of a business intelligence tool goes a long way in defining its user adoption rate within a business. An intuitive, user-friendly application is best for the employees without any real technical knowledge. It’s also important that your vendor provides frequent updates to the software (verify this by checking their release histories) and provides seamless integration support with other 3rd party applications that are critical to your business.

Compare recommended BI tools:

It’s necessary to make a well-researched decision of purchasing a BI tool as the right one will get you the return on investment within no time; here are a couple of top choices:

Anodot:

Anodot is a data analytics tool with powerful anomaly detection tools. If your business deals with large amounts of data, then it is a viable option for you. Read the full review.

Cluvio:

Cluvio is a cloud-based business intelligence tool that comes with a futuristic SQL editor and intuitive reporting and other visualization features. Read the full review.

Final Word:

In the modern world, a business intelligence tool offers a serious competitive advantage to companies that use it to harness important insights from historical data. In this article, we talked about some of the characteristics of a BI tool that should be considered by all potential buyers.

Jason Catwright
author

Jason Cartwright has been immersed in the world of business intelligence and analytics for many years. He advises many entrepreneur and SMBs in business intelligence, and helps implement new systems. Jason believes that the most successful businesses are those that are data-driven.

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