An enormous amount of data is generated on a daily basis and business leaders are still learning how take advantage of this information through the effective use of business intelligence (BI) tools. The benefits associated with utilizing BI are apparent. Armed with data-driven insights, it’s easier to understand, predict, and make important decisions for the future.
For instance, McKinsey recently estimated that retail businesses stand to increase operating margins by at least 60 percent with the effective use of data and analytics. It’s clear that the importance of BI tools in today’s business operations cannot be ignored.
Unfortunately, there is a misguided perception that managing data is a cumbersome and expensive undertaking, one which hinders businesses from achieving timely BI insights. These concerns are certainly valid given the increasing complexity of the data available to businesses of all sizes, but it’s crucial for organizations to understand the solutions as well. While there are many keys to overcoming these challenges, the first is to identify ways to simplify the efforts and discover manageable solutions that will help to collect, analyze, and visualize data.
Simplifying your BI allows data to have the most effective impact on your decision-making processes — without investing too much in hardware or analysts. The rise of cloud and self-service solutions, moreover, present a significantly easier and more affordable approach to BI, one which can translate into an average of 73 percent savings.
Moving beyond the premise of big data, there’s no question that companies are currently prone to the pitfalls of increasingly complex data. This is largely due to the growth in disparate data sources, data types, and relationships.
Unfortunately, the powerful opportunity to gain valuable insights is often overshadowed by the cost and effort involved in these analytics tools in the first place. Businesses will often face conflicting information due to multiple perspectives, experiences, and opinions coming from different data sets. In order to overcome this confusion, you will need to adopt techniques and deploy solutions that will actually simplify your BI efforts, thereby contributing positively to the decision-making process and the bottom line.
Consolidate Growing Data Sets
Many businesses are currently benefiting from the increased availability of data from sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT). Machine-generated data also plays a substantial role across multiple business sectors, including retail, infrastructure, and more. In addition, businesses can leverage social sentiment as part of their data inputs. These resources can assist in optimizing sales, marketing, and even product development.
According to a data complexity matrix illustrated in a white paper published by Sisense and Ventana Research, organizations need to integrate at least six data sources on average. These disparate data sets might seem so compartmentalized that they each tell their own stories, especially when using different solutions to gather the data. However, at this point, your first priority should be to consolidate these data sources in order to develop a better understanding of the trends. This way, rather than having sets that each tell their own story, each set will render different pieces of the same story, filling in the gaps harmoniously.
Use Faster and More Intuitive Data Software
Smart BI software can help simplify the necessary pre-analysis data preparation steps, so that you can better understand your multiple data sources. However, as data becomes more complex, most small-scale solutions will no longer be able to meet your needs.
A solution is often required that can integrate data from multiple streams and process it all in an automated, efficient, and straightforward manner. Google’s new premium Data Studio 360 product has been making waves in the industry since its launch in May 2016 for this very reason. It’s made for blending sources, collaborating, and quickly generating dashboards and visualizations.
As another example, the aforementioned Sisense offers a single-stack solution for data visualization and analysis by using an in-chip technology that takes advantage of the memory found within consumer-grade CPUs. Since you can use it on any relatively new, affordable, and accessible desktop computer, it becomes a viable solution for simplifying BI across enterprises of all sizes, without the prohibitive costs associated with specialized hardware.
This also allows for BI tools to be easily accessible for those working within all aspects of the business, not only those with technical backgrounds. With these insights easily available and comprehendible to the average user, it’s simple for enterprise teams to better understand the company’s needs as a whole.
Transform Data Into Action
This is the point where many businesses take a leap of faith and hope that their BI solution is telling the right story. It can be challenging for enterprises to develop a relationship of trust with their BI platform, since it provides insights that can seriously impact the business.
However, once you’ve gathered and decided to act on the new analysis, you can then develop an action plan that will help solve any problems that you have identified. For example, in the case of website analytics, solutions like Decibel Insight and Kissmetrics can assist in using customer data to optimize content and design on web pages.
It’s important to note that data only becomes an effective driver of success for your organization when you are able to visualize it, comprehend it, derive actionable insights, and execute solutions that will address the pressing needs.
Data and insights can significantly increase your business’ competitiveness and long-term success within your industry. However, while collecting and analyzing data is important, it can also escalate to unmanageable levels of complexity that can only be sorted out through a careful process of consolidation. Maintaining a detailed system for your BI efforts can best be achieved through user-friendly, trustworthy, precise platforms that have the ability simplify your visualization and analytics.
Oren Rofman is a senior technology writer. He’s particularly interested in information technology, big data and the cloud.
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