We often hear “Data is the new oil”, but oil is only useful if you know the ways to use it. Organizations for years have been talking about digital transformation, until now when they are left with no other option.
While I say this, by any chance, I don’t want to condemn the efforts that you might be putting for years in your organization into something as simple as convincing to just start using the tool. But let’s be honest, COVID-19 has forced us to take digital transformation more seriously in our organizations.
If you have stumbled onto this blog, then firstly let me congratulate you on your journey. Identifying a BI tool that caters to everyone’s business needs in the organization is a tough job, especially when the internet is ready to overwhelm you with information.
Therefore I decided to create the perfect cheat sheet to help you shortlist your BI tool.
- Identify a Use Case
This is the most important and the critical step, it’s similar to your pre-workout snacks. Without it, you can still go and workout but the workout will not be as effective as it would be with it.
No one knows your organization better than you, so before you even think of starting your journey of identifying the BI tool, identify a use case that can help you give a complete picture of the product.
Pro Tip: Identify the most critical business use case and start with a small pilot, it will give you a deeper understanding of the product.
After identifying the use case, let’s move to the next step of shortlisting the BI tool.
- Data Connection and Integration
Setting up the data connections is one of the key factors to consider. There are two important questions to answer, does the tool provide connections to all your existing data sources? And can you use previously built dashboards? (Ok! I accept the second question might not be relevant to some)
While keeping a pilot in mind you should look at tools that provide easy setup options. At this stage your main focus is to try out the product, therefore the quicker to go live the better it is. But at the same time, the tool should provide the flexibility to connect to various data sources.
- Drill down on data with filter functionality of the tool
Looking at data unidirectionally while making a decision will give you half the story. You might want to look at data from all aspects. Though most tools in the market today will give you the option to put filters, here is the catch. You might want to look at the ease of using these filters so that you can deep-dive into your data.
- Collaboration with the team within the tool
BI tools will help you get insights from your data, but not always 2+2 will add up to become 4. The BI system should give you the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with your team at the same time.
Historically BI systems are built by analysts, developers, or Data scientists but are consumed by Managers and Executives. From the start of the development to the time it is ready for consumption, the gap is 4–6 weeks depending on the complexity of the dashboard.
- Analytical features
Every business function is driven by key business metrics; they are the building blocks of business intelligence.
Business Intelligence systems should not just be a mere mode of displaying data, they should also be able to calculate these metrics. The ability to use advanced analytics into a single system will help you cover a wider range of business needs; thus, increasing the probability of tool adoption.
- Role-based access:
Decision-makers across organizations will be using Business Intelligence software to gain insight from different data sources. Therefore, it is important to control the access of data. The tool should give you the ability to assign or revoke permissions to control who is accessing the insights from the BI system.
- Data Security and Governance
Data is the ‘New Oil’ and hence the sensitivity of data safety. You do not want to use a tool where your data is exposed to high risk. Thus, it’s important to make sure that the tool follows high data security standards.
- Scalability of the Tool
Do not forget this is just on the scenarios in which you are running the pilot. But the long-term objective is to implement the tool across the organization. You must understand whether the tool can be used by all the functions in the organization i.e. from Sales to Finance. If the tool requires a lot of technical knowledge in using it. In that case, scalability to the non-technical functions would require a lot of training thus would increase the cost of tool implementation.
So, here you go, a comprehensive checklist for shortlisting a BI tool for your organization.
Caution: But let me warn you beforehand, even though you mark 100% on all the points mentioned above there is one most critical point that can make all your efforts go in vain.
- Ease of using the tool
Let us not forget our end goal, you are looking for a tool that everyone in the organization can use even the non-tech people. Ease of using a tool drives the adoption of the tool period. For example, if I have a tool in which I need a set of highly skilled technical people. That simply implies I will be chasing my IT team for even the smallest change in my report. As a stakeholder, you want to reduce dependency and increase the turnaround time for each report to drive maximum ROI from the tool.
Beagle might be a good option for you to explore. A personal Virtual Analyst, that provides you instant byte-size information in the form of cards. Its advanced domain data mapping and built-in advanced analytics module make it a go-to platform for all your data analysis needs.