Business Intelligence in The Cloud - And What It Can Do for You
It is not challenging to see the value in Business Intelligence software. The ability to easily and quickly analyse and report on the data captured by your organisation can transform decision-making processes, delivering insight into the way your company functions – and how your customers respond. Yet in the past, many companies were inclined to put aside any efforts to explore BI products.
Though Excel is a capable and ubiquitous tool for analysing data, users need to have a certain level of expertise that is difficult to come by. For most people, complex spreadsheets are simply too arcane. On the flipside, specialist BI tools hosted locally can be expensive to license and maintain. Enter Cloud BI – an affordable, accessible approach to slicing and dicing data.
The emergence of cloud analytics tools
Advances in internet connectivity and virtualisation are driving a major change in the way businesses consume IT software and services. In many cases, it has lowered the accessibility barrier: developers of Cloud BI software can now offer easy to use, simple solutions at very low rates by piggybacking on the capacity provided by the massive providers of cloud services.
Business Intelligence in the cloud does not require on-site installation and setup teams either. As a result, a nimble startup with a clever approach to data interpretation and visualisation can rapidly release a product to a global audience. The rate of adoption is staggering: a BARC Research study published in January 2017 suggests 78% of respondents are currently adopting or are planning to adopt Cloud BI for data storage and analysis.
What you can achieve with Business Intelligence software
Big Data is getting a lot of airtime, and for good reason – businesses are scrambling to find ways to utilise data in order to gain a competitive advantage. This applies not only to large organisations with vast data repositories – medium-sized businesses also stand to reduce guesswork and improve responsiveness if they make better use of the internal sales and marketing data available to them.
BI can help you to upsell and cross-sell, to decide which markets to enter – and which to quit. Service lines which appear to be profitable can be revealed to be a drag on performance – but you will only know with the right analytics. In essence, by using BI provided in the shape of cloud solutions London-based business can rely on hard facts when they make decisions, rather than human instinct which, though valuable, does not necessarily line up with the facts.
Visualisation and its importance
Data visualisation, one of the biggest selling points of Cloud BI, allows even number-shy employees to quickly get a grip on a scenario that they simply would not have done with a spreadsheet packed with digits. This is where cloud-based Business Intelligence turns particularly valuable – creating an accessible way for your team members to interpret facts that they would otherwise have ignored.
A visual representation of your business data makes it more intuitive to see relationships and patterns allowing you to judge which changes triggered which effects more easily. Likewise when identifying emerging trends. Visuals are also far quicker to interpret – which is why 76% of respondents in the BARC Research study suggest that dashboard-based reporting is one of the top three use cases for Cloud BI.
Which Cloud BI product is the best fit for your business?
Cloud BI products vary tremendously in scope and complexity. Large, complex organisations will be looking to acquire a broad product from an enterprise software vendor. Small to medium-sized business will, in turn, be better served by more straight forward, simpler products from smaller vendors or an easy to use BI product that is shipped as part of a cloud productivity suite.
If anything, don’t pick the product with the most features – these can also be the most difficult to master, which can be ruinous for user adoption. Some products offer guided analysis and reporting, whereas others are more self-service orientated and flexible. Consider whether you have the analytical skills in your office – do you already have a spreadsheet guru, for example?
Reasons not to hesitate
Given the obvious benefits of BI software, and the low cost of Cloud BI, there’s really no reason not to engage with Business Intelligence software. If you are hesitating, consider that your competitors may already be making advances in optimising their business by means of better information. Unless you find the same efficiencies, you will in the long run not be able to match the service levels and prices other businesses offer.
The learning curve for Cloud BI can appear fearsome but for any tool to be widely adopted, it needs a degree of simplicity. This is the case for Cloud BI too: request a demonstration or trial period from a provider and take the time to explore the software. Chances are the benefits will rapidly become clear and you will see why a more informed business is a more profitable business.