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A business intelligence (BI) tool can be crucial for organizations which want to drive growth with data-driven decisions. But you shouldn’t assume that any tool will produce the desired results. It’s vital to choose a modern BI tool that meets the requirements of your organization.
So, you have to consider more than just the core features like visualizations, dashboards and reports. For instance, business intelligence tools should be also selected based on other factors such as their compatibility with your company’s current data strategy, or their lower total cost of ownership. The Gartner Magic Quadrant BI report from the research firm Gartner provides an independent analysis of the top vendors.
Here are the 10 questions you should ask when selecting a BI Tool:
- Will it result in digital transformation for my organization?
A company’s overall goal for using a BI tool should be digital transformation. Getting a tool with the right features is important, but you also need to consider how the specific combination of features will help your company put a foundation in place for long-term data-informed transformation. This should include well-defined data governance, comprehensive deployment options, and efficient data access. If you keep this in mind when considering BI tools, a more thorough evaluation of their benefits will help you choose the right one.
- Does it offer full mobile functionality?
To maximize the value of the platform, users should have the ability to access its full capabilities in a native mobile app as well as on a desktop. A BI tool that can travel along with users lets them explore and analyze real-time data whether they’re online or offline; if integrated alerting sends them push notifications, they can also stay up-to-date on new developments.
- What are its data governance capabilities?
The best BI tools use data governance to ensure the integrity of the organization’s data. When data is used correctly thanks to defined policies, tools, roles, and processes, users are able to trust the data that they utilize and share across the company. The process is also streamlined since there’s no need to go through a central IT team. As a result, users from every part of the business develop a data literate culture.
- Is the tool compatible with my existing data strategies?
The BI tool you choose shouldn’t require you to restructure existing data strategies. With integration into the organization’s enterprise applications or portals, it’ll be available wherever you’re most likely to need it as you interact with users. The platform should have the ability to work in the cloud, on-premises, or both. In order to ensure that real-time data is analyzed quickly, the best BI tools allow optimized native connections to your business’s data, no matter where it’s located.
- Will it help my organization meet our goals?
In order to achieve clear digital insights, the BI tool you choose must be a good fit for your organization. Before knowing which one is the right one, you have to determine what your organization wants to accomplish digitally. Is it a priority to introduce more democratic data usage and access to analytics, or do you need advanced analytics capabilities to support strategic insights? If you know which features will bring the most benefits to your business, this will help you select a business intelligence tool that drives value for your company over the long term.
- Does it include automated notifications and reporting?
Automated reporting is one way in which a BI tool could improve data accessibility for users. For example, someone in sales could have an email sent to them after a major sale is closed, or get key revenue reports generated at the end of every week. This not only saves time for the users, but it also improves efficiency in the way they use data. If users throughout the business are all getting updated information regularly, there will be less confusion caused by obsolete data.
- Will key users be satisfied with the tool?
The software you select should be helpful to all users, but some of them will do work that’s more valuable than others. The platform could be used by executives, managers, data analysts, clients, or customer service representatives, and they’ll all be using it for something different. What you need to determine is whose needs to prioritize. Data analysts will probably get more use from a BI tool than a customer service representative, but a business manager will need it for something completely different. You’ll probably have to choose a platform that caters to specific users based on who will have the most impact.
- Is the platform responsive and fast?
Most BI tools will have a wide array of capabilities, but if the platform is consistently slow to respond, this will detract from its overall usefulness. Users’ time should be spent acting on data-driven insights, not waiting for reports to be generated or analyses to be completed. Data sets that are queried through caching rather than through direct queries result in faster responses and increased efficiency.
- Are there any hidden costs?
The listed price will be easy to identify, but there could be other associated costs for a BI tool. Some platforms might require complementary software, or additional training for users. These types of costs might be worth it in the long run, but it’s best to know about them before committing to a specific BI tool.
- Can you find hidden patterns by visually exploring data?
You should be able to explore your visualizations within one interface without the need for extra programming or code. If you can dive deeper into your data by exploring it visually with real-time visual feedback, you’ll uncover more in-depth insights.
Selecting the right BI tool involves some research, but the results are worth it.
If you can determine what your business wants to accomplish with a BI platform, you’ll have completed the first step in the process. The research firm Gartner named only three vendors as “Leaders”: PowerBI, Tableau, and Qlik Sense. Each business intelligence platform offers a slightly different combination of features, so if you want to choose one that serves your organization best, asking the right questions will help you make a choice that will drive value for the company.