Business organizations differ in reasons for getting a business intelligence software for their businesses, depending on their immediate or long term needs. But in reality, there is a myriad of categories and types of business intelligence software available in the market today, which aims to cater to more kinds of business set ups and models. Each boasts of a single or collated features to spark sales, some have gone “out of the box” in integrating value added features to attract value oriented buyers, others have focused on a fully customizable system that scales as your business expands or constricts, while some have already made up a credible and reputable system architecture that were constantly enhanced by experience and strong customer engagement over the past years. These and so much more make up the business intelligence software market that we encounter today.
Educating yourself first before jumping into the bandwagon of business intelligence software users will save yourself from making mistakes and having regrets in the future. While some look for immediate and present day solutions, it is wiser to opt for long term benefits to make your investment more cost efficient and enduring with the ever changing market scenarios and trends. There are good sides and downsides in every choice, but the next best thing is to choose a business intelligence software that grows and expands with your business in whichever path it goes. For credible feedbacks on a user’s viewpoint, read business intelligence software reviews available in the market. This will make one good way of learning more about what BI tool will suit your needs.
Defining Business Intelligence and Its Benefits
Business intelligence, within its context, defines the maximized use of company resources like data, finances, and human resources. This can be achieved by applying the appropriate technologies to further enhance the business’ capabilities and functionalities to meet certain requirements and demands of its consumers. It makes businesses proactive in dealing with every aspect in running its everyday operations and making plans for its directional and growth matters. In a business context, business intelligence focuses on transforming business data into actionable form that is essential in building a more organized and systemized business architecture and workflow. By applying data analytics to raw data, it allows businesses to gain insights for improvement, opportunities for expansion and growth, and potentials for innovation. It can also provide evaluations of key performance indicators within its system to be able to deliver a faster response and action to untoward circumstances, and even to seize opportunities right away arising from new trend indications.
Business intelligence starts with data gathering, but using a more intensive and in-depth approach method called data mining. It gathers unstructured and structured data across the business network and communication system and through data drilling, it unearths useful information which can be used in making informed decisions and improvements transversely in the business organization. It also can effectively eliminate “data noise” and irrelevant facts for data integrity. After this, data retrieval and filtering, the next step is to apply a more complex analysis using the disciplines and methodologies of data analytics. This is a science of processing collated business data and turning it into a more valuable output intended for executive level use and overall performance interpretation. In a business intelligence software, these processes are automated and needed minimal to no human intervention, as the methods are already integrated in the program.
Over the years, business intelligence tools experienced faster growth and development than it have used to be when it started. In choosing the right business intelligence tools for your business, make sure that it is in parallel with the latest technologies and advancement present today. It is an indication of a good business intelligence software that is flexible and scalable, which makes a better investment for a company. Another good indication is a strong set of essential and value added features that are also customizable for a tailored fit solution to different business needs. Here are some essential features that you need to look for when making business intelligence software comparisons:
- Standard Data Analysis and Reporting Capabilities
A core feature of a BI software is to analyze business data to generate different types of reports for business use. A good BI software should be able to mine different types of data; both raw and processed, from different internal and external resources, and combine them into one data warehouse. It should also integrate seamlessly with different communication channels, whether in digital or legacy systems. Its reporting capabilities should be comprehensive in scope, but most especially it can deliver about key performance indicators (KPI) in the business in many forms like statistics, opportunity assessment, dashboards, performance evaluations, ROI, financial status, and others.
- Security Features
Your business intelligence software should include defined sets of security features for better control and management of the data system. This is to impose data integrity and refrain from introducing unverified data into the system that commonly happens when there is an unauthorized access. Most executive level data are also confidential but still needed to be input on the system for better report coverage. In this event, a BI software should be able to restrict access from other employees apart from several key people or members of the board. In the case of business mergers, partnerships and sister companies, it is beneficial to operate in a single business network. The role of the BI software security features is by providing individual user interfaces for each company but all operates within a single system and have all data consolidated on one platform for better utilization.
- Enhanced and Value Added Features
Enhanced features include high level capabilities that make a business intelligence software give more worth as an investment. These features are what makes a BI software unique and valuable support system for any business. Mostly, this comprises of features in the aspect of its architecture, database support, mobile integration support, and operational and real time reporting capabilities. According to a market study, the usage of mobile phones in opening emails in the past 3 years has already grown to 180%. In another report, there have been an overall increase in mobile app sales by 206% for android app users, 67% for iPhone users, and 58% for iPad users from 2013 to 2014. These numbers clearly support the assumption that there will be more demand for mobile based integrations, both for consumers and businesses alike.
- Advanced and Expanded Features
Advanced features also enable room for future advancements in the field of business intelligence. Some have already been implemented, like intelligent alerts, platform collaborations, white labeling, open integration support, and cloud ready. A business intelligence software should be future ready, making it a cost efficient solution for expanding business needs.
Important BI Software Parameters
Focusing on the system features and capabilities of a good business intelligence software, take note of these important BI tool features and how to spot a good deal out of it:
- Data Sources
A good BI software should be dynamic enough to integrate seamlessly across different data sources. These sources include several categories: raw and structured, internal and external sources, and online or offline engagements. This is to support analysis for a wide range of data for a more effective reporting.
- Data Filters and Data Drill Down
A good BI software should have in-premise system data filters for removing irrelevant data for the reports you want to generate. Another important feature is the capability of a BI software to conduct further data drill down upon the user’s discretion, based on the available data presented.
- Web-based Client User Interface
Today, businesses find ease in utilizing more web based applications and tools that makes configurations and expansions easier to implement, reducing additional hardware and complicated system re-working. The introduction of Cloud BI, which operates mainly in a cloud system, makes everything – viewing, monitoring, building and amending your whole system more accessible at any time and in any place.
- Independent and Interconnected Data Mashups
This pertains to the freedom to control which data will be utilized, based on purpose and report goals. In a business viewpoint, data mashup is created from consolidating segmented components in a single working environment, where end users can “mix and match” to serve their current business needs. Dr. Mark Whitehorn, an Analytics professor, explained the significance of data mashup in an enterprise setting, as bringing the predictive analysis of a BI tool with external data sources resulting to a mashup will make better future business and market predictions that are actionable, and profit generating.
- Data Visualization
Key performance indicators should be intuitively arranged in a graphical and understandable form to be able to visualize and monitor its performances simultaneously and in real time. This will result in faster response to critically low indications, as well as immediately seize sudden opportunities based on market trends.
It is important to know the security parameters of a business intelligence software, and must be within the bounds that a business prefers it to be. Each hierarchy step and sector in the business organizations could be assigned to different levels of access to exercise more control in the overall system management. Security issues within a business intelligence software system are multi-faceted, dealing with user authentications, signing on options, user privileges, and activity auditing. All of these should be clear and upfront at the beginning, to be able to designate access before full implementation and avoid confusion.
- Dynamic Data Exchange
DDE is a method of communication between processes, which is developed by Microsoft. It is simply a way used by Windows applications in sharing data across different applications installed in it. This used to be basic technology integrated in all Windows enabled computers and devices were further enhanced by other companies to support businesses and for enterprise use. A business intelligence software feature of data sharing is quite similar with DDE.
- Print and Export
Another important parameter within a business intelligence software system is the Print and Export features. It enables convenience in report generation by allowing direct printing options from the system itself. The export function makes data sharing and access more dynamic, to be utilized in multi-platform work environments.
There you have it, let the presentation of the important features and parameters of a good business intelligence software here will guide you in choosing the best BI tool for your unique business’ needs. Let your hunt be finally over by rounding it up on these CrowdReviews.com’s business intelligence software reviews. Also, see this list of who made it to the top business intelligence software in the market today.
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