Putting the right information in front of people who have to make decisions within a business is critical. Good data isn’t enough, however. Instead, firms need the right tools, such as BI dashboards, to quickly tell the stories that come with the data.
This is where business intelligence dashboards come into the picture for many operations. In addition to simply bringing data together, BI systems also offer analytic and predictive solutions that can help firms dig down into trends and get ahead of the competition. Astonishingly, as late as 2017, only 20% of business analysts stated they used such tools on a constant basis. That means there’s still a lot of room for players to seize unclaimed advantages.
How BI Helps
In a world where everything and everyone is spread out, good business intelligence systems can tie things together. For example, a retailer may depend on buyers in China to acquire inventory. Keeping those buyers up to date with demand in the U.S. can be challenging. Using BI dashboards, however, analysis and forecasts derived from a company’s social media department can be transmitted instantaneously overseas to ensure that buyers are out in front of trends.
Similar advantages can be gained in passing along information from the lower levels of a business to the higher ones. It can be hard, for example, to explain to executives what can be done to reduce losses at a store. With the help of BI dashboards, a security department can track where losses are occurring in stores and advocate for changes to floor plans in order to keep a better eye on valued merchandise.
Access to business intelligence can be attained through a number of systems, from ones that work on single desktop computers to ones that are cloud-hosted. Choosing a setup that’s right for your company is critical, and there are a range of cost- and time-related issues that come into play. There are even configurations that can be connected to IoT devices to provide live stream data. The biggest players in the sector are Tableau, QuikView, PowerBI and SAP.
Tableau is popular with folks who don’t have stats backgrounds and PhDs. In fact, many people who utilize the other tools listed here choose to employ Tableau when they make final presentations of information. Tableau is excellent at taking spreadsheets and database tables and turning them into graphs that look good and are highly readable.
Those who are looking to go the other direction and want aggressive data-mining capabilities often turn to QuikView. It has a reputation for being difficult to learn, but it also is considered the champion in producing analysis. QuikView does produce dashboards and visualizations.
Given the near ubiquity of Microsoft products throughout the business world, it’s not surprising to learn that its offerings in this sector, PowerBI is popular. By far its greatest advantage is seamless integration with tools like Office 360, Excel and Access. If your company is already heavily invested in the Microsoft software stack, PowerBI is worth a look. On the downside, a monthly fee structure may turn off small businesses that want to contain long-run costs.
SAP BusinessObjects is the entry from one of the biggest suppliers of data in the market. It has become especially popular with those who demand strong predictive capabilities. One big turnoff, however, is an obscure licensing regime that requires negotiating fees with a representative.
Trends within the industry suggest that the big boom in business intelligence is slowly coming to an end. A study by Gartner shows that expected growth will decline from more than 60% per year to less than 20% by 2020. Of the areas where BI dashboards are anticipated to see the most improvement, real-time streaming of data will dominate. BI has entered into a cycle where improvements will now outpace advances.