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10 Business Intelligence Features that You Should Prioritize

Business intelligence features christmas list

The market for business intelligence is becoming increasingly competitive and as a result there are a multitude of vendors offering a vast array of business intelligence features. We take a look at 10 of the most important business intelligence features you should expect from a potential solution.


Feeling festive? head over to our Matillion Advent Calendar for a whole host of free business intelligence resources throughout December.



1. Self-serve reporting

The complex nature of traditional business intelligence means that only a select few employees within an organisation have the technical expertise required to build and maintain reports. This can place a great strain on resources and can lead to bottlenecks forming around these key individuals, slowing down the entire reporting process.

For this reason, self-service reporting should be one of the key business intelligence features you need to look for when evaluating potential reporting solutions. A self-service reporting solution such as Matillion BI allows users to quickly and easily generate powerful reports, without the aforementioned requisite technical skills.

2. Fast implementation

One of the major issues with traditional business intelligence software is that it often requires a complex, time-consuming implementation process. This process is even more difficult for businesses that lack the in-house capabilities to conduct the implementation themselves. Figures show that these companies could end up spending between 100% – 300% of the original software cost, on external consultancy to get things up and running.

One of the most important business intelligence features you should be looking for is a fast, efficient implementation process. With a Cloud Business Intelligence solution such as Matillion BI, a team of experts are on hand at every stage throughout the implementation process. Furthermore we offer a fast, fixed price implementation, meaning you could be up and running in as little as 4-6 weeks, without having to worry about escalating costs.

Even once you are up and running, the software-as-a-service nature of our business model means that unlimited technical support and training is provided, covered entirely within the costs of your monthly subscription.

3. In-memory analysis

In-memory analysis can be one of the most important business intelligence features in terms of functionality that is powerful yet easy to use. In-memory analysis allows line of business users to analyse data themselves with no special skills and without having to rely on IT specialists.

Users can ask and answer business questions, drill-down, group, filter and pivot. They can also quickly compare performance over time, product groups, customer sectors and geographies.

IT need not worry about complex queries damaging performance – analysis happens in-memory, away from your production systems.

4. Data warehouse

It’s entirely possible to have a successful business intelligence solution without having a data warehouse. However, having one could supercharge your BI strategy, making it one of the most important business intelligence features you should consider.

Why? Simply put, a Data Warehouse transforms the ease with which you can exploit your investment in Business Intelligence, and also greatly enhances its power, usability, and performance.

Here at Matillion, we regard a Data Warehouse as one of the core business intelligence features of our Cloud-based Business Intelligence ‘software as a service’ offering and are strong advocates of the advantages that it can bring to your organisation.

5. Data visualisation

Data visualisation has been a major component in the overall effort to make Business Intelligence more mainstream and widely accessible. It has become one of the most important business intelligence features in recent years.

In a modern workplace, where time is of the essence, it has become crucial that information is efficiently communicated across different levels of the business. The effective use of data visualization can allow you to present large volumes of data in a much more simplified and user-friendly manner.


OLAP is an acronym for online analytical processing. OLAP is a database technology that has been optimized for querying and reporting, instead of processing transactions. OLAP data is also organized hierarchically and stored in cubes instead of tables. The functionality offered by OLAP makes it one of the must have business intelligence features you should look for from a BI solution.

With Matillion BI OLAP you can:

  • Join together and analyse different data in the same cube e.g. Stock vs Sales, or Achievement vs Budget
  • Perform powerful time-based comparisons e.g. Rolling LTM (Last 12 Months)
  • Identify growth, trends or up-coming bottlenecks

7. Report scheduling

The ability to create stunning reports, quickly and easily is incredibly important. However, building reports is only half of the story, what you do with them is equally, if not more important.

There is no use creating these reports if they then lay unused and do not reach the people who would truly benefit from them. For this reason, report scheduling is one of the critical business intelligence features that you should expect from a Business Intelligence and reporting solution.

The Matillion BI Report Scheduler can email reports to individuals and groups – in or outside of your organisation, automatically and in a choice of file formats. On top of this we also provide an iReport tools which enables users to create more complex, pixel perfect reports.

8. Advanced security

Without a doubt, one of the most talked about business intelligence features is security, particularly when it comes to Cloud BI solutions. In the past concerns over security have led to businesses preferring on premise business intelligence solutions, however these concerns are beginning to diminish as vendors offer more robust and stringent security measures.

At Matillion we understand that security is one of the most important business intelligence features. Matillion BI allows you to control exactly who sees what. Using groups and roles as well as row and column based security, you can ensure a user only gets the information they need to see and nothing else. In this way you can share BI with managers, employees and even suppliers or customers.

We understand the importance of security in a cloud business intelligence world. Our security provisions are extensive. We use encryption that exceeds banking standards. Our data centres are SAS Type II, ISO 27001 and PCI accredited.

9. Mobile Access

In today’s work environment, mobility is no longer a luxury, but one of the must-have business intelligence features.

With busy executives always on the go, it is crucial that they can easily access management information wherever they are, on a range of different devices such as mobile and tablet.

This has led to a huge surge in the demand for Mobile BI capabilities – with the market for these tools growing by an estimated 42% in 2013. This figure is only expected to grow and in the coming years it will continue to be one of the most important business intelligence features.

10. Office integration

One of the most important business intelligence features in terms of integrating with existing processes, is the ability to integrate with Microsoft office, and in particular Microsoft excel. Matillion BI provides a Microsoft Excel plug-in, allowing you to:

  • Build pivot tables in seconds from accurate, up-to-date Matillion Data Warehouse data
  • Drill down, exactly as you would in Matillion BI, using MS Excel
  • Access a spreadsheet later and the data refreshes automatically from Matillion BI

To find out more about the fantastic business intelligence features of Matillion BI, visit the features page of our website.

Or if you would like to know more about implementing successful business intelligence and reporting solution, download our free guide below.