Choosing the right Business Intelligence (BI) tool for your business

09 March 2018

Not all that glitters is gold

There are some impressive data analytics tools around the moment. Super-fast delivery of high-impact graphics can be hard to resist, but there is little substitute for quality. So, how do you pick the ‘gold’ with all this glitter to distract you?

The early days

I remember being introduced to one of the first web-based Business Intelligence (BI) tools back in the early 2000’s.

It was a market leader and has since gone on to big things in the world of BI. Its advantage, at the time, was the graphical interface it provided.

Users had the ability to link database fields together to extract and view data, without much technical knowledge at all, and the result was BI reports developed at relative light speed.

The alternative was glacially slow by comparison, as a team of back room code cutters produced report requirements.

How times have changed - and the ‘gold’ looks amazing…

Today a BI tool can ‘scrape’ data from an html table, hosted on a website anywhere in the world, and convert this data into a flashy graphic almost instantly.

It’s easy to see how a good pre-sales consultant could make a room drool at the amazing graphics and speed in which they get a heat map on the screen with live client data.

Impressive? Absolutely. However, try not to let the ‘glitter’ suck your organisation into purchasing before you have a chance to lay the groundwork.

Business Intelligence tool fundamentals

The visual factor of this new wave of BI tools is so appealing, but there are critical fundamentals that need to be in place before you take the leap:

  1. Quality, quality, quality – what is an impressive tool with poor quality data sitting behind it? Focusing on data quality and integrity is key to a successful BI outcome.
  2. Governance rules! You are going to struggle with quality if you have poor governance. However, this heavily relies on getting strong support from the executive…and this can be a massive challenge if they don’t understand the value.
  3. Don’t find (or buy) a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist – be clear about what you are trying to achieve and your use of any BI tool will have a much greater chance of success.
  4. Define what is important to measure in your business. You may not get this right the first time, but if you get the quality right at the front end, and define the measures in the back end, selecting the tool in the middle becomes a whole lot easier.
  5. Finally, if you understand your data a whole lot better, protecting it from cyber criminals is much simpler…but this is a whole other topic in itself.

Helping you with your complex business problems is what makes us tick. If you would like to have a conversation about your data and/or business intelligence tools, get in touch with our team.