Big data continues to grow exponentially among businesses today, and it’s no surprise organisations want to properly leverage it to produce better insights and drive more data-driven decisions.
A recurring problem, however, is these data sets are massive, complex to consolidate and hard to analyse if you’re using traditional data analytics software or legacy on-premises database management solutions with performance or accessibility trade-offs.
This is where self-service business-intelligence (BI) solutions come in. Tools such as Microsoft's Power BI helps non-IT users consolidate their key metrics in visualised reports to identify patterns and trends from their big data easier - after all, big data is useless and business intelligence practically unattainable without the right BI solution.
We have identified 5 signs that help you know when you need to invest in a better BI solution to meet your evolving enterprise business intelligence objectives.
#1 - Your BI solution can’t handle your volume of data
Big data demands big resources.
If your current data platform and enterprise BI solution can’t efficiently process the high volume, high velocity information assets your business generates, you can’t expect your team to effectively analyse, interpret the data and extract the actionable insights you’re seeking.
Legacy and otherwise traditional on-premises business intelligence tools aren’t scalable like many of the cloud-based BI solutions available today. With the increasing prominence of big data, most of the time they only result in inefficiency and an unharmonised data landscape.
With data constantly coming from both on-premise and cloud-based sources, it’s up to you to have a solution in place that can both store and process this information in a timely, orderly fashion - and to your advantage.
Properly architected cloud-based BI solutions like Microsoft Power BI can help you increase processing efficiency and generate more accurate insights overall from your enterprise data.
Paired with a cloud data warehouse like Azure SQL Data Warehouse also ensures your business can store and process your big data for analysis faster and at scale, enhancing your BI capabilities and help you prepare your organisation for a modern cloud data platform.
#2 - There is over-reliance on your IT team for data queries
Obtaining and driving better BI is a challenge felt across multiple departments.
Business users can understandably face more roadblocks with ad-hoc analysis than IT users, but if your current BI solution makes bringing together disparate data sources and creating reports too complex, you won’t be able to turn around the insights you need.
Relying on your IT team to handle all queries is inefficient and unnecessary with the plethora of self-service business intelligence solutions available to us today, such as Power BI.
Self-service BI offers non-technical business users a simplified yet powerful way to connect data together, frame queries and visualise key metrics without having to turn to IT specialists at all.
Meanwhile, IT users who are more experienced in using traditional BI tools to produce reports will appreciate all the benefits cloud-based software like Power BI brings, such as hundreds of in-built data connectors to both on-premise and cloud sources for seamless integration.
#3 - You’re only using a handful of data sources
Deriving greater business insights with self-service BI tools means bringing together the right data sources.
If your current BI solution is currently limited to only handle a small number of data sources or on-premises only, it’s time to assess options on the market. If you don’t have access or can’t use all of your organisation’s key sources of historical data, your business will find it harder to understand performance over time and the predict future trends.
Your BI solution should ideally have connectors to on-premises and cloud-based data sources, and be able to process SQL, structured and unstructured sources, along with native integration with cloud services to centralise your data and your insights in one future-proof platform.
As a popular example, Power BI has over 70 connectors with popular local and cloud-based data sources, such as CSV and Excel files, cloud storage sources like Dropbox and Google Drive, and native integration with cloud data analysis services like Azure Data Services.
#4 - Your BI solution is overly manual and time-consuming
Modern business intelligence tools streamline the creation and sharing of reports, so if your current BI system consists of Excel spreadsheets, it’s time to modernise.
Why? Using spreadsheets for data analysis is highly manual and demands advanced knowledge of both the software and BI best practices, and is very prone to errors.
The potential result is unreliable or otherwise outdated data, delivered at a rate far slower than the streamlined processes modern-day self-service BI systems offer.
Approximately one in five large enterprises suffer significant financial losses due to spreadsheet errors. All it takes is one error in one cell to make your data unreliable for analysis, which in turn make it more likely for your business to make key decisions based on inaccurate information.
The fact is modern business intelligence solutions help users of all skill levels create, share and analyse reports easier and faster. Because they often update in real-time thanks to active connections to your data sources, this further helps your key decision-makers take action.
# 5 - Your key information is hard to find or otherwise inaccessible
Reports should be accessible and easy to read for everyone in the business consuming them.
If your employees are struggling to find the relevant data reports they need to drive key business decisions - whether it’s cost analysis, KPIs sales performance, etc - and spending excessive amounts of time trying to access them, your BI system is insufficient.
Self-service, modern BI solutions make information highly visible, easy to digest and readily accessible to support time-sensitive decisions - across computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets.
5 signs you need a better BI solution: Key takeaways
Investing in a modern business intelligence solution to support your strategic decision-making and enable data-driven insights is critical - especially for achieving a cost-effective, efficient and future-proof modern data platform.
Cloud-based self-service BI solutions are no longer the sole domain of larger enterprises, and are quite affordable and accessible for small and mid-sized organisations. The time to modernise for smarter data is now.