Remember that time a few years ago when you needed to get the market share for each product by package size by market trended over a 12 month moving average and raw monthly data? Me too!
And the presentation was in two days?
And the research group needed at least three days to pull the reports out of IRI or Nielsen, combine them with your in house sales data and specific geography, and print them out for you?
Not to mention the time it would take to ensure the numbers were correct.
Thankfully, that weekly request and run around the building approach to business intelligence can be a story one listens to around the old brand manager campfire at the annual brand summit.
Today there are a myriad of tools and platforms – well over 100 – that can help you and your business churn through and manage the hurricane of data that comes in waves each day.
In fact, a recent report from Gartner estimates that more than half of net new purchasing is data discovery driven
All of these promise end users the ability to create reports and dashboards without the need for IT resources on an ongoing basis. Once the set-up and integration is complete, the IT team can effectively work issues as needed.
And you can drill down and twist the data to your heart’s content. Or the Division Presidents heart – whichever.
Saving everyone the fire drill run around the building of a few years ago.
With close to 100 different offerings to choose from, we’ve assembled a quick guide as a starting point. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive listing. It does provide you with some thoughts on a range of products with different capabilities.
GoodData offers cloud-based, flexible reporting using the company’s proprietary platform that can work with any data source. Combining large data sets from different sources in real time, GoodData creates great looking reports and dashboards. A sharing feature provides users the ability to collaborate in almost real time with others. Permissions can be configured in a number of ways, protecting sensitive figures as needed from team to team. Implementation is quick but does require some technical expertise. GoodData provides a great option for cloud-based analysis of your data.
iDashboards is a user-friendly, interactive dashboard tool that you can use to view critical business data. Featuring a wizard that helps connect data sources, the easy to use tool guides you through steps to personalize the visual display. A proprietary feature captures data that is similar across different dashboards, drawing attention to patterns. Data can also be combined for scenario planning. iDashboards is available as a local installation or in the cloud and is highly rated for mobile applications. If you need an easy to deploy tool for your data, iDashboards deserves a look.
Birst uses a unique two-tier structure that allows stable storage for one unified view of your data, and a second level, flexible interface giving business users the ability to analyze and discover, as well as generate dashboards and reports. It features a short development time, making it easy to use and integrate. There are several sets of vertical reports included, but end users can easily create reports on their own. Known for stellar customer service, there is also a highly engaged community that speeds deployment and offers ongoing assistance. Birst provides businesses of all sizes on-premise and cloud deployments that are flexible and can scale.
Qlik offers two products, both use an associative data engine that gives users the ability to filter data quickly without the typical use of queries. Qlik uses in memory technology that allows real-time analysis of data. Different data sources can be combined and displayed in a drill down visualizer. Qlik View is designed for technical users to push business intelligence tools out to the company. Qlik Sense is a more recent product that allows IT to manage the data that business users build dashboards with. Both offer great visual tools for discovery and Qlik Sense offers tools for storytelling and smart search. Available in web based and on-premise, Qlik offers free trials for both products.
Tableau provides the ability to rapidly develop and leverage business insight by combining a broad range of data sources. Featuring an easy to use, drag and drop interface, Tableau can be deployed and used at all levels of the company to analyze information and quickly change perspectives. The visual presentation of the data is highly rated, letting users perform free-form exploration and share in an appealing way. For advanced analytics, larger firms may need to integrate with third party applications. Tableau offers on-premise and cloud based deployments as well as a free trial.
Adaptive Insights offers a powerful cloud-based suite of products based on the design of Excel that helps you speed up initial deployment and ongoing new user training. A highly customized model can be built and used for analysis of real-time data, allowing for scenario planning and forecasting of multiple metrics – from financial and payroll to operations and marketing. The Discovery tool is designed to allow end users the capability to combine different data sets and custom views without programming help. Information can be expressed across any variable including time frame, customer, product, vendor or geography. Adaptive is a flexible and powerful solution no matter the complexity of the business.
Domo is a business management suite that features a powerful back-end in the cloud that combines any number of data sources. Domo allows you to connect with the software and data you already have, whether it is already in the cloud, on-premise or in a spreadsheet. Using an intuitive interface, data can be displayed at a high level and drilled into to get a closer look based on parameters you define. With a number of existing connectors to popular software, the time to get the system running is reduced. Domo offers an integrated solution for companies of all sizes.
Yellowfin BI started as an embedded reporting tool and it retains high marks for offering a range of ways to present your data in a highly collaborative environment. Analytic tools are available in storyboards, mapping and data discovery as well as the standard dashboard and business intelligence views. Yellowfin gets high marks in ease of use featuring interactive and intuitive radio buttons, sliders and checkboxes – user-friendly ways to drill into the data. Mobile access is also a strong point, allowing access anywhere. Yellowfin offers a cloud-based and easy to use business intelligence tool.
BOARD has one product that uses a toolkit approach to offer broad capabilities and flexibility to handle business intelligence without programming help. The dashboard features drag and drop simplicity to build complex dashboards, charts and reports that allow for deep analysis and visualization. BOARD is custom designed by users, easy to set up and configure, cutting down timelines. It is deployed on a local client environment. BOARD offers a powerful customized self-service experience for any size firm.
Large enterprise options are not covered as I’m not trying to write the Bible of Business Intelligence, but here are the larger players that you can add to any comprehensive search:
IBM – Bought a legacy leader in the field, Cognos, in 2008 and has integrated the capability across many products. The recent introduction of Watson Analytics will add to their product line.
Microsoft – There are several product platforms from Microsoft – SQL Server, SharePoint and Power BI. Take some time to determine which ones fit your specific requirements.
Oracle – Oracle has so many products and variations, we’ve provided just three links here. One to an overview that shows the breadth of the product line, a more comprehensive enterprise product in OBIEE, and a focused business planning product, Hyperion. Again, take some time to understand which ones might fit.
SAP – A standard in the space, SAP has several broad product options including SAP BusinessObjects and SAP Lumira.
SAS – Analytics is what SAS excels in and the breadth of products shows. Just three links here in what is nearly an entire company dedicated to analytics and business intelligence.
With so many options to review, it is important to start with an understanding of your data and business requirements. We’ve created a guide and tools to help.
See our previous post on Managing the Hurricane of Data
If you have a solid idea of your data and how it can impact your business, you can then begin to work with some of the companies above that meet your business needs. Ask them to demonstrate their capabilities with your actual data and create reports for you.
Ask each company that is under serious consideration to create a proof of concept and outline the length of time it took to produce the proof of concept. Pay for this if you have to, as it will give you a great idea of the actual cost and time involved to implement the solution.
Create a test user group that can be a part of the demo to track the ease of use that so many providers talk about. Real users in real time give you a real idea of just how easy it is. Use a tool to evaluate all the options with a scoring system that can weight different capabilities.
We’ve created a tool you can download that helps.
Once you have all of the data, it should be clear which of the many options can work to provide your business with the best platform and tools for your current and future business intelligence needs.