Enterprises are surrounded by a huge pool of data comprising of information about prospects, customers, internal operations, suppliers, and competitors. Processing of this data and translating into actionable insights result in revenue growth, increased profitability, and operational efficiency of your enterprise. BI tools extract data easily and analyze the desired information leading to meaningful customer insights thus improving your business growth and scalability.
Classification of BI Tools
Key categories include:
- Spreadsheets: Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets etc. serve as common BI tool. Using this tool is easy; quick applications of simple mathematical formulae and tabular calculations are convenient. Enterprises facing the challenge of rapidly-changing data are bound by limitations of data size, performance issues, thereby offering limited opportunities of preparing, reporting and visualizing huge volumes of data. However, these inexpensive BI tools are being used in every company.
- Online Analytical Processing (OLAP): This BI tool performs multidimensional analytics to provide answers to complex calculations, trend studies, and data modeling. Major applications include sales reporting, budgeting, marketing, etc.
- Reporting software are BI tools for extracting, sorting, analyzing, and presenting relevant data.
- Digital dashboards: Managers use this BI tool to monitor the overall performance of the entire organization. Digital dashboards help to capture and analyze specific data of each department to understand the total growth rate of the enterprise.
- Data mining: also known as knowledge discovery, this BI tool analyzes data collected from diverse sources to convert into useful information; this information may help in increasing revenue, reducing costs, or maybe both. It integrates methods of artificial intelligence, statistics, machine learning, as well as database systems.
- Process Visualization: This tool offers aggregation, analysis, and presentation of real-time data related to internal activities across the enterprise including partners and customers. Major benefits to an enterprise include informed decision-making process, quick resolution of customer problems, and repositioning business strategy to make full use of emerging opportunities.
- Data warehousing: A data warehouse is a central repository of huge volume of diverse data. It stores present as well as historical data to create important analytical reports for the enterprise.
Which is the Perfect BI Tool for Your Enterprise?
Choosing the right BI tool for your enterprise will become easier when you strategize around the following attributes.
- Prioritize your requirements: Having a clear idea about your requirements helps in investing into the right BI tool. Firstly, you must outline your most pressing needs. For instance, do you want to embed the tool in your external website or you want to extract data from an external source. Do you want to incorporate interactive graphs or charts in your reports?
- Budget: Usage frequency on a monthly basis will determine the overall budget of investing in a BI tool. Understand who will use the tool and how many licenses would you need to acquire?
- Plan for using BI tool: you must have a clear idea of how to use the BI tool. More often, limited but inexpensive tools may serve your business purpose. For instance, instead of implementing Photoshop, you can design simple graphics using MS-Paint.
- Ideally, four to five tools may be shortlisted for an in-depth comparative analysis.
- Conduct a SWOT analysis for each tool and conclude which of them fits the bill. Pertinent questions to be answered: Does the tool focus on future? Roadmap determining a clear idea of where will you reach using the tool will be beneficial. Also, focus on the compatibility of the BI tool on multiple platforms i.e. web, mobile etc. does it have a large customer base and will you find online support and guidance from the providers?
- Evaluate various product features and compare it with your requirements.
- Free downloads of major BI tools are available to test how the product works actually and if it is the right tool. This helps in arriving at the final buying decision.