Taking a Modern Approach to BI
In the spirit of spring cleaning, take a second look at the effectiveness and age of your BI infrastructure.
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When legacy Business Intelligence (BI) solutions emerged, the goal was to simplify data access and analysis across an entire company. Sadly, the benefits of these solutions were never realized. Decades later, companies still aren’t seeing the adoption they expected—meanwhile, billions have been spent on BI. Something is clearly missing.
According to IDC, worldwide revenues for big data and BI solutions will reach $260 billion in 2022. Yet, even with all this projected growth, Tableau’s & PowerBI's success, and Looker’s $103 million-dollar funding round, 88% of IT decision makers will choose Excel as the primary tool to explore company data in 2019. So what gives?
Excel is a powerful application, and often cited as the most preferred data tool. Put simply, the most popular BI tool shouldn’t be so popular. Why? For starters, Excel spreadsheets keep information siloed, make data hard to govern, and limit the scope of analysis. All of this stifles collaboration and hinders self-service analysis for business teams—the exact problems BI providers promised to fix years ago.
Traditional BI succeeds in teeing up questions that someone has thought of in advance. But everything goes off the rails as soon as a new, ad-hoc request comes up. Meanwhile, data insights are locked away and only made accessible to the data team, usually made up of data analysts or data scientists. That’s not good enough.
It’s imperative that BI tools evolve and address today’s most pressing business challenges. As you build out your next BI stack, keep these three things in mind before making a purchase.
Take a Data-First Approach
The most innovative companies have a strong backbone of data. Every click, transaction, and customer touchpoint provides insights. But if that data isn’t accessible, it’s not going to help steer smarter decisions. Why lock away your most powerful competitive advantage?
An effective BI stack will help companies balance broad data access with the need to maintain data governance. Sometimes it can feel like walking a tightrope, but if your data stack forces you to lock down your data in order to maintain governance, it’s not serving a data-first organization.
It’s time to let your data thrive. Yet 52% of employees in a recent Researchscape study* suggested that lack access to the data necessary to complete their jobs. Your employees are smart and they know their part of the business—don’t let your next BI solution hold them back. Make sure they have access to the data required to make the right decisions.
Self-Service is Essential
People like to pretend that dashboards are the same as data access. It’s not.
With Legacy BI tools, all but the most mundane business questions require complex SQL to answer. That leaves the vast majority of employees out of the loop or stuck in Excel. What good is data access if business teams can’t find answers to the questions they ask? This is where self-service BI solutions come into play.
Business users shouldn’t have to wait days or weeks for their ad-hoc requests to be answered by busy data teams. We live in a world where experts can create complex analysis across large and diverse datasets. Make sure your data stack supports that reality for your entire organization—not just the data team.
Build Your Stack for the Cloud
Every time you blink, another company has migrated to the cloud. And while some companies remain convinced that hybrid cloud solutions are the right choice, you may want to think twice.
Taking a hybrid cloud approach in 2019 just doesn’t make sense. Why not realize the full potential of the cloud, and the collaborative network effect it can provide your business?
A modern BI stack should be able to elastically scale up and down on computing power as needed. You shouldn’t be paying up front for what you don’t use—a common reality with hybrid solutions. Seek the flexibility to change tools based on what your business requires by purchasing a cloud-first solution that seamlessly transfers data between multiple applications, and scales with your business.
Make sure that your BI stack delivers all the benefits of the cloud, and not just a cloud-washed version of an on-prem product.
Don’t leave your business experts stuck in the dark ages with Excel as a makeshift BI tool. Take a modern approach, unlock data for your entire organization, and make sure you’re leveraging all the full power of the cloud.
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