We’re all looking for the best way to ensure our companies are as productive and efficient as possible. Taking advantage of Business Intelligence software has become a common vehicle to increase our bottom lines and ensure we are allocating our resources in the proper places. What many companies find is that there may be some steps that may need to be taken when it comes to implementing BI. Some others just don’t feel like they’re ready, as they haven’t been given the opportunity to have their questions answered or had the necessary steps broken down in the appropriate terminology. There are many BI options to choose from, and each has their own advantages and limitations, so choosing the best fit can also seem daunting. What we want to share is that the path becomes much easier once you’ve taken the first and most important step; ensuring that your data is ready for BI software.
Below are 5 simple and important topics you should consider about your data before selecting a business intelligence solution;
What are your sources? Determine which data sources you currently have and decide which are necessary for your business intelligence strategy. The most common of these are:
- Flat files
- Web services
- Other sources such as RSS feeds
You need to be able to trust the data coming into your BI solution. Customer data is the core of your organization. It allows you to engage with customers and prospects to deliver exactly what they need. Customer data is only as valuable as it is accurate, so it’s crucial that you have confidence in the data that is influencing your decisions. By cleansing your data, you will be able to ensure that the decisions you make are based on accurate reports. Having confidence in the ability to make key decisions based on factual evidence provides you with the ability to make the correct decisions to advance your company.
How fresh does your data need to be? Do you need it near real-time or does daily/weekly/monthly suffice? This is something that many people overlook. Some decisions are actually better made by analyzing trends in past data, while others greatly benefit from instant reporting. Having both of these abilities is important, but looking at which set of data is best for each purpose will greatly increase the value the end result.One of the defining features of many BI platforms is the ability to generate real-time reports. This process used to be tedious and almost impossible for the casual user, but many platforms are now much more user-friendly, enabling just about anyone to query the database and create reports. Others prefer to have reports delivered from their BI analysis partners. Having a third party that delves into data and analytics provides yet another avenue for growth and opportunity.
How much data will you need to be able to analyze at a given time? Are you able to stage the data inside a native BI platform i.e. Tableau Data Extracts OR do you need to host it in a separate platform i.e. Data Warehouse or Microsoft SQL Server? If you are combining from multiple data sources, we would highly recommend having some sort of data warehouse.A staging area is mainly required in a Data Warehousing Architecture for timing reasons. In short, all required data must be available before data can be integrated into the Data Warehouse. Due to varying business cycles, data processing cycles, hardware, and network resource limitations and geographical factors, it is not feasible to extract all the data from all Operational databases at exactly the same time.
Do you have support? This may seem like an odd question but the reason why most analytics workflows fail is from lack of support. It doesn’t matter if you can get the data once and build beautiful reports if you can’t then repeat the processes. The setting of an organizational support structure for your BI platform is key.