Time’s Up: the 8 pointers That You Need a BI Solution

  • Ed Thompson, CTO
  • February 28, 2014

time's up!  8 pointers that you need a BI solution or self-service reporting solutionBusiness Intelligence is becoming increasingly accessible and affordable for companies of any size. So why ignore the pointers? Does your business need a BI Solution?

Are you still unsure of the benefits? Take a look at these 8 signs and see why you should invest in a BI Solution.

1. Your data is difficult to access

In competitive industries, it is imperative that businesses are able to access their data quickly. In order to facilitate this process, it is important that key decision-makers are able to access the information specific to their role with relative ease. Without an effective BI Solution, this process can often be complicated and time-consuming as data is tied up in complex systems and spread across multiple sources.

2. Your data is spread across a number of different sources

When a business draws its data from a range of different sources, it can be difficult to consolidate this information into actionable insights. Different departments will undoubtedly have varying interpretations on what performance metrics are most important and may use different reporting tools to communicate this data. This internal conflict can severely diminish data quality and make it impossible to form a coherent overview of company performance. As Julia King states, a BI Solution can help to overcome this problem by “pulling data from all internal systems plus external sources to present a single version of the truth”.

3. You rely on spreadsheets to store your information

Spreadsheets may have underpinned the business intelligence operations of SMBs for many years but, as data requirements have grown, they have become an increasingly inefficient way of storing information. Laurie McCabe discusses some of the major problems facing businesses that still rely heavily on these spreadsheets. Spreadsheets require a large amount of manual data entry to maintain and this time-consuming approach can cause significant delays, leading to data being both inaccurate and outdated. The manual nature of this approach also makes it more susceptible to human error which can skew important data, diminishing its value. McCabe states that “20 to 40 percent of all spreadsheets contain errors, and as they become more complex, error rates multiply”. A BI Solution can help to streamline the data collection, analysis and reporting process, removing this dependency on spreadsheets.

4. You have bottlenecks in your reporting

In many companies, Business Intelligence and reporting fall entirely under the responsibilities of the IT department. Business Intelligence software often requires a great amount of technical expertise and non-technical users are therefore heavily reliant on IT staff to manage data and create reports. This can create bottlenecks in the reporting process and these delays can lead to the information being outdated. This dependency also takes time away from the other responsibilities of the IT department and can lead to it neglecting these duties. A BI Solution can help to reduce these bottlenecks by giving more power to the people through the ability to self-serve and create their own reports without the need for technical knowledge or experience.

5. Your data does not provide actionable insights

Businesses can often get so caught up in the process of collecting data that they fail to take into consideration the importance of producing actionable insights. Companies should take a quality over quantity approach to data instead of simply collecting large volumes of meaningless information. An effective BI Solution can help you to discover the information that really matters and can help you keep track of it in relation to your company’s strategic goals.

6. Your data is outdated

One of the major issues facing businesses is that their data is not up-to-date, meaning that key decision-makers do not have relevant information on which to base their decisions. This could be down to delays in the collection, analysis or reporting of information and can be detrimental for company performance. A recent study found that only 13 percent of business leaders say their reports are reliably up-to-date, highlighting just how prominent this problem is for companies of all sizes. A BI Solution can automate the processing and delivery of data, with many tools offering the ability to schedule reports in advance, ensuring business leaders always have the information they require.

7. You struggle with Data Visualisation

Data Visualisation is a key part of Business Intelligence but, without the existence of a BI Solution, it often gets neglected. There is little point in collecting large volumes of data for it then to be poorly presented to the people who matter. Data Visualisation tools can help bring your data to life and make it much easier to interpret through the use of charts, visualisations and dashboards.

8. You are unable to access your data on multiple devices

In the modern age, it is becoming increasingly important that information can be accessed anywhere, at any time. Traditional on-site Business Intelligence operations may be seen as a more secure option but they severely restrict the way that data can be accessed and this can limit its utility. Developments in technology such as Cloud Business Intelligence have meant that this data can now be accessed anywhere in the world with users simply needing access to the internet. Advances in Mobile BI also mean that users can access their data on the go through smartphones and tablet devices. The benefits of this were highlighted in a recent study which found that Mobile BI users saw an increase of 45 percent in their ability to make business-critical decisions in the allocated time frame.

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