Data makes a difference: before you can find answers, you need information. But back before ERP systems were commonplace, businesses used to regularly moan that they lacked the data required to determine those answers.
No longer. Thanks to those same ERP systems, businesses now have data in abundance.
So do they now have the answers that they crave? Answers to things such as sales and marketing quandaries, pricing conundrums, and inventory management challenges?
For the most part, no. The drought of data has become a deluge, but answers still remain tantalisingly out of reach.
Making the case for cloud-based Business Intelligence
How come? There are two reasons.
The first is that ERP systems have remained obstinately poor at providing decent reporting tools. The in-built standard reports are fine, on the whole. But venture much beyond these, and a business quickly finds itself battling IT constraints in the shape of sluggish response times and a shortage of report-writing skills.
And second, many businesses have found to their cost—literally—that two decades’ worth of Business Intelligence systems haven’t really helped them. They’re fine for larger businesses with deep pockets and well-staffed IT functions, of course. And look at case studies where traditional Business Intelligence is credited with making a difference, and as a result it’s generally companies like these that predominate.
But for countless smaller businesses—businesses living in the real world of hard-pressed IT functions and stretched budgets—traditional Business Intelligence has contributed little to the challenge of turning data into deliverables.
Cloud-based Business Intelligence re-writes the rules
But within the past five years, something has happened to re-write the rules. To the rescue has come a new generation of cloud-based Business Intelligence solutions, from a new generation of providers.
Such solutions change the game in three important ways.
First—and as the name implies—with cloud-based Business Intelligence solutions, the ‘heavy lifting’ is carried out in the Cloud, on powerful servers many times faster than a typical small and medium-sized business’s own in-house computing horsepower.
Second, the economics of cloud-based Business Intelligence solutions is very different. Those cloud-based servers, for instance, are priced on actual usage, vastly transforming the cost of building and maintaining a data warehouse. Plus, they generally use subscription-based, ‘software as a service’ pricing models, replacing upfront capital expenditure with ‘pay as you go’ affordability.
And third, cloud-based Business Intelligence solutions are implemented very, very quickly.
In part, that’s because providing cloud-based Business Intelligence solutions as a service means that the vendors of those cloud-based Business Intelligence solutions become very skilled at implementation. Plus, they’ve made the investments in rapid implementation technology that would simply not be economic for a company implementing Business Intelligence on its own as a ‘one off’.
Leaders and laggards: making the move to cloud-based Business Intelligence
And consequently, the word about cloud-based Business Intelligence solutions is getting out. Despite the fact that cloud-based Business Intelligence solutions are still a relatively new technology, adoption rates are soaring. A technology that very largely didn’t really exist five years ago is now seeing serious market share.
But—as with any new technology—adopters view it from a range of standpoints. In short, there are leaders, and there are laggards. Some are reluctant to break with the past, and some aren’t.
Here at Matillion, we’ve five years of developing and bringing to market our own cloud-based Business Intelligence solutions. And we can say this of our customers: the data-based obstacles that were formerly holding them back are now resoundingly absent. Where they just had data, now they have answers.
Yet few of our customers, we suspect, would see themselves as visionaries or technology leaders. Most are simply pragmatic businesses that saw cloud-based Business Intelligence as simply a way to get the job done—and do so in a way that was faster, better, and cheaper.
Taking a look at cloud-based Business Intelligence: a New Year resolution
As we enter 2015, some businesses use traditional legacy Business Intelligence to meet their analytics needs. Some use cloud-based Business Intelligence solutions. But most businesses use neither.
Simply put, these ‘do nothing’ businesses are limping along with a mixture of reports, spreadsheets, and ‘sticking plaster’ interim fixes. In short, for them, turning data into answers—and insights—is still a challenge.
So if this is you, let 2015 be the year that you resolve to take a serious look at cloud-based Business Intelligence solutions. And start turning data into answers.
To find out more about how cloud-based Business Intelligence can help your business prosper in 2015, download our free E-book below: