Making the right choice

“Vendors aren’t going to be able to code a deep understanding of your business – they can’t automate that – but they (BI tools) are all much better than they were even two years ago. You can do far more with the tools now”, says Rick Sherman, founder of Athena IT Solutions. And guess what, he is absolutely right in stating this.

Your organization has been capturing a lot of data at each step of operation and now you want your data to guide you in making key strategic decisions. The right thing to do is have a Business Intelligence tool connected to your data which can give you insights into what your data says. But making the right choice has not been easy. Since you identified the need for an analytics tool you have been looking at a whole bunch of them and now you are totally confused. Each one comes to you stating how different it is in terms of features, data fetching strategies, etc.

So the big question is how to make the right choice while choosing a BI tool? Is the most expensive one the right choice always or you have to go to the biggies to get the apt solution? Do you need to match the BI tool with your ERP? Further questions that arise are – do I get it built from scratch or buy a tool?

Let’s try and answer these questions one at a time. Firstly, what is the right cost? This depends on your spending power and your IT budget. Having said this it is important to point out that purchasing a tool is only part of the job, there are going to be very important additional expenses towards customizing the tool to your needs or what we call implementation. So, you would not want to spend the entire budget on just the purchase of the tool. Mostly, it is wise to make the purchase from a value added reseller who can offer you a package deal for both the tool and its customization around your requirements.

The complexity of a tool is also a point to ponder upon. This complexity comes through both in terms of implementation and in terms of use. The actual user of business intelligence is the business or the management guy. He is the one who knows his data best. Identifying trends in the data is important but the relevance of these trends is paramount. More often than not we tend to push the usage of all IT related tools to well the IT department. But with a BI tool we cannot afford to do the same simply because your IT guy may know technology but you can’t expect him to know the business. So essentially business and IT have to ensure synergy and cooperation and this is possible only when the tool is easy to use. Check out this video to know about an easy to use tool –

Ideal Analytics, analytics on-demand

The ease of implementation is significant in the sense that more complicated the tool is more is the time needed to implement it and we all know in business time is money.

Another question that might crop up is whether to build your BI system from scratch or simply purchase a tool. Building from scratch makes sense when a high level of customization is desired. However, there are tools in the market that help you avoid compromising on this factor. What you get is a black box where in you can import your data, put in your formulas to design data your way and finally develop dashboards and derive analysis purely based on your requirements. Further, purchasing a tool saves a lot of time that will otherwise be wasted in writing the same codes as have been written by several others before you.

The new generation of BI tools empowers you to skip the long and tiring process of preparing data before it is ready to be analyzed. You can now connect directly to your data regardless of its location. These tools are often incorporated with social media both for SSO and collaboration front. To be aware of such advances and to choose the right mix based on your organization structure is the key to making the right choice.

So, choose wisely.

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