In an increasingly globalized world, businesses are exposed to risks more than ever before. With shrinking profit margins and increased competition, organizations need to be on their toes all the time to survive.
That's where the importance of data comes in. The jury might still be out on whether data is the new oil. But the growing market of data analytics outsourcing tells you that more and more companies are investing in data analytic solutions to gain a competitive edge.
Data analysis forms the backbone of business intelligence, which enables benchmarking, prescriptive and predictive insights, and text mining, among other functions.
Every company needs quality business intelligence to succeed. In this article, we discuss how you can take advantage of the new cloud-based Business Intelligence as a Service (BIaaS) platforms.
Table of Contents
- Importance of Business Intelligence Tools
- Business Intelligence as a Service
- Who Should Opt for Business Intelligence-as-a-Service
- How to Choose the Right BI Solution
Importance of Business Intelligence Tools
When it comes to analyzing mountains of data, business intelligence has always been a challenge. You need expensive software, years of experience, and an expert in the field to quickly sift through the findings and produce valuable information that helps your company make faster decisions. But now businesses are moving toward more effective solutions such as business intelligence as a service, where companies can outsource this task to experts who specialize in business intelligence and analytics without having to add more staff to their teams.
This will streamline the process of data analysis allowing companies to complete their work more quickly and efficiently. If you have already decided that this solution is for you, it is time to look for business intelligence solutions that will fit your organization's needs.
In order to survive in a global, competitive economy, businesses need to stay relevant. In a world where trends are short-lived and new technologies are constantly emerging, it is important for business owners to know where to put their money. Business intelligence tools enable accurate reporting, insights into consumer behavior, and KPI tracking, among other things, for more informed decision-making. Given all of that, here is how business intelligence tools can give companies an edge over their competition:
Increased User Satisfaction
With access to consumer insights at all times, businesses are able to gauge what their consumers want. Thus, they are able to target their audience with better solutions, hence resulting in increased user satisfaction. For instance, an e-commerce company might find that some of its users find the process of returns cumbersome. It can then work towards improving the process.
More Chances for Innovation
Insights gleaned from business intelligence tools can also unearth new opportunities for revenue growth. For example, a food retail outlet might find that a lot of its consumers are shifting towards vegan options. Based on that information, it can pivot its short-term strategy to cater to this growing consumer base.
More informed decision-making, based on data insights, directly translates to lower operational costs. Simply put, when you know what the market wants, how your business is performing, and where it is lagging, you will only invest money where it is needed. Moreover, newer opportunities for growth also help businesses be future-proof, and boost their top line.
Business Intelligence as a Service
Any business intelligence solution rests on three key pillars:
- Data extraction
- Data organization
- Data insights
In other words, you need to extract the right data, organize that data in one place - which is the data warehouse - and then apply various algorithms to extract insights. Before the advent of cloud computing, only large organizations had the resources to invest and maintain a data warehouse. This gave them a clear edge over the rest of the competition.
However, the cloud changed that. Cloud computing has transformed various facets of our lives, right from education (availability of on-demand courses) to how we communicate with each other (Gmail, social media platforms, and the rest). It has also had a profound effect on businesses.
For one, cloud computing makes technology more scalable and affordable for small and medium-sized businesses. Today, if you want to start an internet company, you don't need to invest in a server room and hire a specialized team for its upkeep.
You can purchase required bandwidth from companies such as Amazon that deliver reliable web services. The same goes for data computing and business intelligence. Instead of investing in a data warehouse and spending resources on data organization and extraction, you can hire an end-to-end business intelligence-as-a-service solution, which is more scalable, and more agile.
Differences between Business Intelligence-as-a-service and software-as-a-service
Here, it is important to point out the difference between business intelligence-as-a-service and SaaS companies that are only delivering a part of the solution. SaaS companies, such as Birst and GoodData, are responsible for delivering a good user interface for your business intelligence problem. In other words, they don't take care of the data. They only take care of how you interact with that data.
Thus, the onus of extracting data, organizing it in a data warehouse, and investing in its upkeep, rests on you. However, when you get a business intelligence-as-a-service, you get an end-to-end service that handles the extraction, organization, and upkeep of your data. Thus, if you are a small business with limited IT resources, hiring a SaaS company isn't going to give you access to business intelligence. What you need, instead, is an end-to-end service that handles the data, for you.
Who Should Opt for Business Intelligence-as-a-Service
Not all businesses are created equal. If you already have well-organized data, you could do with a simple front-end that allows you to interact with the data in an easy, accessible way. However, if you don't have a data warehouse and want the benefits of business intelligence, you might consider investing in business intelligence-as-a-service. Here are situations when BI-as-a-service makes perfect sense:
- You are a small or medium-sized business and have limited IT resources at your disposal.
- Information in your organization is stored in silos, which makes accessibility slow and painful. Lack of accessibility lengthens your time to market, which has detrimental consequences for growth. A good business intelligence end-to-end solution brings together all the business information in one place, for easy accessibility.
- You are looking for quick solutions based on data analytics. By taking care of extraction and organization of data, BI-as-a-service can help companies save a lot on time, as well as money.
- You already have a business intelligence solution in place but are looking for something more agile. BI-as-a-service takes advantage of cloud computing to make things more scalable and agile.
- You regularly experience bottlenecks around information management. If information is scattered around departments or personnel, it can lead to delays in the processing of key information. By making a central repository of information, BI-as-a-service makes information management a lot more efficient. it also promotes a self-serve culture in an organization, where employees have access to data to create reports and insights.
How to Choose the Right Business Intelligence Solution
First and foremost, consider if you have the capability to extract and organize data on your own. For organizations that can, a simple front-end solution, such as GoodData, will do the job. However, if you don't have the resources to handle data organization, you can either invest in a traditional BI end-to-end solution or hire BI-as-a-service. Once you have made that decision, consider the following factors when choosing a business intelligence solution:
- Dynamic reporting: This allows you to customize generated reports according to the insights you are looking for.
- Integration: to make sure the solution you deploy can work with any existing systems that you might have. This is especially crucial for organizations that have legacy technology architecture in place, such as banks.
- Mobile compatibility: to ensure your team has access to data insights, anytime and anywhere.
- Industry knowledge: ensuring the service provider is familiar with the nuances of your industry to deliver a bespoke solution.
- Cost: finding out how much business intelligence as a service costs is an important part of your research.
- Reputation: one of the top questions to ask yourself when you are considering business intelligence as a service is whether or not the company has a good reputation. Ask your colleagues and other industry experts for information regarding the most reputable business intelligence companies.
- Experience: finding out how much experience the company has in this field can be beneficial. You want to be sure that your company's data will be handled by analysts who have extensive knowledge in business intelligence and analytics.
- Clientele: This is an important factor that you should take into consideration before signing up with a business intelligence service. For example, if you are interested in creating a customer loyalty program and need more data, it would help if the BI company had experience collecting this data for a similar sector.
- Services: a great business intelligence company will offer services such as data mining, data preparation, and analytics amongst others. These factors will allow you to consider your needs and determine the company that can best meet them. For example, you may only need data preparation services or you may need everything from data analysis to predictive modeling.
- Software: you also want to make sure that the company has the proper software to support all of their services. If they are going to provide analytics, for instance, they will need a system that is capable of performing those tasks.
- Training: companies that provide business intelligence as a service should offer training to their clients. By having professionals walk you through the process of this service, you will be able to use it more effectively and efficiently.
Here's a list of the top 17 BI Tools for 2021 to help you choose your BI solution. Consider these criteria when examining each one to find the best solution for your needs.
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