On-Demand Business Intelligence: A Solid ROI—And A Surer One

  • Richard Thelwell
  • April 28, 2014

sales-analytics-3-quick-questionThe hype is all-pervading: by exploiting Big Data, smaller companies can successfully take on and beat their larger rivals. Well, possibly. But ironically, an aspect of analytics that is much less hyped turns out to offer a much surer return.

Which is this: by exploiting on-demand business intelligence, companies of all sizes can take on and beat their rivals.

Faster to market with compelling new products. Faster to respond to changes in sales and demand. Faster to realise and react to shifts in customer sentiment. And faster to recognize when things have gone wrong, enabling actions to be put in place to correct matters.

All of which is a fairly compelling set of benefits—albeit a set of benefits that the business world has only just started to wake up to.

At Matillion, we like to think that we know our limitations. We can’t do much about the tidal wave of Big Data hype that threatens to engulf the world of business– but we can do something to point out the virtues of on-demand business intelligence.

On-demand business intelligence: faster, lighter, cheaper

The first of these is that in terms of acquisition cost and implementation timescale, on-demand business intelligence is a paradigm shift away from traditional on-premise business intelligence solutions.

On-premise solutions, in short, require a hefty upfront capital investment, take significant amounts of time and resource to implement, and typically require some significant horsepower in terms of computing capability.

On-demand business intelligence, on the other hand, is paid for out of income, as a monthly subscription. Most the necessary software is in the Cloud, already built, thereby slashing implementation times. And as most of the processing also takes place in the Cloud, the required on-site computing horsepower is sharply reduced.

A better solution, at a lower cost—without compromise? You’d better believe it.

On-demand business intelligence: answers when you need them

In the early days of the motor car, drivers were obliged by law to employ a man with a red flag to walk ahead of the vehicle, alerting other road users to the oncoming hazard.

Your traditional on-premise business intelligence solution is a bit like that. Writing reports is a lengthy process, consuming scarce IT resources. Typically, reports take weeks or months to move from request to delivery—by which time, the situation that sparked the request may have disappeared, or become much worse. And in many companies that we speak to, running reports against the live database slows response times right across the system.
In other words, something that should be a slick and speedy way of gaining insights into what is going on within the business, instead turns into a bottleneck that impedes progress.

Rather like the man with the red flag.

On-demand business intelligence: business intelligence for everyone

Business intelligence—whether of the on-premise or on-demand variety—goes way beyond reports, of course.

In particular, while reports, dashboards, and visualisations are a good way of keeping abreast of what’s going on, certain situations can require deeper insight. Drilling down into the underlying data, in short, and tracking problems to their cause.

For the on-premise crowd, that’s not a problem. That’s what ‘power users’ are for, they say: people deeply versed in both the workings of the chosen solution, and in the intricacies of the company’s data architecture and hierarchies.

But in today’s business environment, such folk are an increasingly scarce—and expensive—commodity.

The good news: with on-demand business intelligence, pretty much anyone—power user or not—can leverage business intelligence to drill down to the root causes of problems.

On-demand business intelligence: the bottom line

Roll it all together, and it’s clear that on-demand business intelligence can make a compelling and meaningful difference.
Better still, it can make that compelling and meaningful difference today—without waiting for grandiose Big Data initiatives to be conceived and attempted.

On-demand business intelligence offers a solid ROI, in short—and a surer one, as well. And what’s not to like about that?

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