SaaS BI: How Your Business Can Excel WITHOUT Excel

  • Richard Thelwell
  • June 3, 2014

Does your Business Intelligence Strategy still revolve around Microsoft Excel? Chances are it could be costing you time and money! Read on and discover some of the fantastic benefits that could be gained by investing in SaaS BI.

Excel is arguably the most widely used Business Intelligence tool in the world and it is easy to understand why. Only a few years ago, the ability to capture and manipulate data was exciting new territory and, in the absence of affordable BI solutions, Excel became the application of choice for businesses of all sizes.

However, in this information age, the volume and variance of data that companies collect is simply too much for static reporting tools such as Excel to handle. With more data than ever before, companies are beginning to realise the benefits of a more powerful BI solution, placing greater focus on data discovery and visualisation.

Alas, this does not come without a cost – and many SMBs have previously lacked the financial resources and technical capabilities required to implement a traditional BI solution.

This is where SaaS BI comes in…

In this article, we will explore some of the key benefits that can be gained by investing in a SaaS BI solution and explain how they can help your business in the difficult transition away from Excel.

SaaS BI can handle more data

It is understandable that many companies rely on Excel for their Business Intelligence needs. As Kevin Quinn states, “Excel’s simple interface allows users to easily accomplish tasks such as calculating, presenting and displaying numerical data” which makes it perfect for handling smaller data sets. However, as these data sets get progressively larger, the limitations of Excel as a BI tool become increasingly apparent.

With the rise of Big Data and now the “internet of everything”, it has become crucial that BI tools can handle data volumes on a scale never seen before. Gartner listed the internet as one of their Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014, predicting that as more and more devices become connected to the internet, the amount of data collected will reach an unprecedented level. This presents businesses with an exciting opportunity to expand insights but in order to achieve this, they must be able to cope with the increased volume and complexity of data.

With traditional Business Intelligence, getting at the information you need is difficult: it is spread across different systems, Excel spreadsheets and sites. When information is tied up in these Excel spreadsheets, it is tricky to self-serve and get the information you want quickly. Sometimes, you just can’t get the information you need.

However, with SaaS BI you can take all the information that exists in all those places, pull it together, integrate it, collate it, and create a report with up-to-the minute actionable data.

SaaS BI improves data quality

For a Business Intelligence strategy to be successful, it must be based on consistent, reliable and up-to-date information. Bad data leads to bad decisions.

Using Excel as a BI tool can wreak havoc on data quality as the manual data entry process is increasingly susceptible to human error. A single mistake could skew an entire set of data and it make take time to notice and rectify this error. Over time, these minor mistakes could culminate in forming the basis for poor quality decision making, potentially costing your business millions.

SaaS BI Tools can help overcome this problem by creating a data warehouse that allows you to join together data from different sources and store it all in one place. You can apply rules and calculations to the data before it enters the data warehouse, so that when you come to report on it, the answers are already there. Finally, you can use business rules and other techniques, to “clean up and enrich” data – plugging gaps, fixing problems and adding value.

SaaS BI improves reporting

Excel reports are often static and can take a long time to produce. This means that by the time these reports have reached the key decision makers in the business, the information contained is often already outdated.

SaaS BI tools can help to overcome the difficulties in reporting that are typically associated with Excel. With improved data visualisation and business dashboards, users can view the information they need, when they need it. Dashboards allow users to drill down further into the information they require and even allow alerts to inform employees when there is a significant change in performance.

Many SaaS BI tools also offer Self-Service Reporting features that allow users of any experience level to create their own reports with relative ease. This decreases the demands on IT departments who have typically had to produce these reports themselves when using Excel, thereby saving time and reducing bottlenecks.

How Matillion can help

At Matillion, we deliver SaaS BI projects with cost-effective, fixed-price implementation and a single, all-inclusive monthly subscription that includes support and ongoing changes.

The implementation process has been designed to be low-pain and fast, so we can deliver an effective, enterprise quality, Business Intelligence and Self-Serve Reporting project in a matter of a few weeks.

If you would like to find out more about SaaS BI Tools, consider downloading this useful Ebook below.