Category Archives for Business Intelligence

Consistency is Key for Rapidly Increasing Growth

On a road trip, sometimes you look for the comforts of home. So you’re craving your favorite brisket taco from that restaurant with locations all over, and you stop by the store near your hotel. And when you start to dig in, something's not right. The taste is off - or this location serves it on the inferior corn tortilla instead of flour. (Don’t even get me started on why corn is not optimal - and don’t be a hater either - we can disagree and still get along right?)

You expect to get the same taco served the same way. The reason so many restaurants succeed across this great land of ours is because they care about the customer experience and work hard to ensure that it is the same in Dallas, Oregon as in Dallas, Texas.

The consistency is key.

Disappointment multiplies if it is not the same.

This holds true for your brand and everything you create. From how you talk and treat your prospects and customers to how you write a brochure.

Consistency is key. It matters. It makes a difference in growing your business.

Your customers and prospects expect a superior experience that helps their business.

To meet those expectations and grow, you have to have a process that can be picked up and repeated by others. Scaling requires consistent execution. To scale rapidly it becomes even more important.

Here’s how to make sure you have the basics in place that ensures a repeatable winning formula.

Set the direction

The direction and big picture have to come from the top of the company. Without a set of clear objectives, your team will be chasing their tails in different directions. If there is no direction - they set their own course based on their goals. People running all over trying to herd cats.

The first and most important step to creating consistency is to outline for your team the goals or business objectives of the organization. This will ensure that everyone knows what they are doing every day contributes in some way to a goal. It can be a high level outline that has no more than five goals that everyone can remember. The simpler the better. For example - "Our revenue goal this year is to reach seven figures for the first time." This is clear, simple and all strategies and tasks develop from this goal.

Another useful thing to do is to create a guide or a pocket sized reference that focuses your thinking that team members can refer to. Consistent direction leads the company to success.

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Document the process - writing it down is key

When you walked into that restaurant hoping to get the same great tasting brisket taco you get at home, the way the restaurant makes sure it is the same great taste is to follow a recipe. A corporate chef wrote everything down so that people in far flung locations could follow it. And make sure it tasted the same every time.

Your team needs to have the same discipline.

Make sure that your team members capture the steps they take to complete a project. Have them write down all the tricks they use to shorten the process as well. These steps should be captured in a Google document that can be referenced and referred to by other team members.

Another useful piece is to add an approximate time it takes to complete the task. This gives you an idea of the resources needed to get things done. It can be used to set pricing and margins as well as planning for future work.

Have a process that people follow every time

Having a written recipe to follow creates a step by step method to ensure consistency. By having a written living breathing document that covers most every process your team undertakes it creates a process that can be followed by others.

You can then use these outlines to train the next group that will take over their jobs as they move up through the organization. It also ensures that nothing falls through the cracks if someone is out unexpectedly. It ensures that customers can rely on your team for the same excellent service and product, every time.

Use the power of the Cloud to share

Once you have done the hard work of capturing the major processes it is important to keep these in a place where everyone can find them. It should have a reference so that anyone can find what they are looking for. Keep all the documents in a Google document or on a Dropbox account for easy access.

Make sure that all documents are reviewed and kept up to date. At least once a year, have a review and make sure nothing has changed significantly. Without a consistent review process, you run the risk of having to redo all the work that only needs to be done once.

Make sure that everyone knows where to find it and create a table of contents with a search function so that people can easily find what they are after. When new team members are added, they should be trained on the system as part of a new employee on-boarding process.

Create a swipe file that allows others can follow

Another way to create and maintain a consistent brand presence to the world is to keep a database of images and documents that your team has assembled that ensure the same look and feel for your company. A visual scorecard. Things fit together. It makes certain that people aren’t off using corn tortillas when they should be using 

This cloud enabled resource can also have sales scripts, customer service emails, product information sheets, technical documents and anything that can benefit multiple teams across the organization.

These elements can be re-used and should match your brand guidelines. 

Create brand guidelines

One of the key documents that should be a part of your plan is a set of brand guidelines that drive the outward look and feel of your company. This document has all the information that your team would need to set up sales materials, emails, trade show signage and even promotional giveaways.

The brand guidelines should have the following elements:

Logo sets - both in color and black and white along with the color palette to be used

Graphic elements - other icons and elements that can be used in documents

Images - a set of images that have been approved for use in creating communication elements

Typography - the correct fonts to be used in all communication

Copy tone and style - a guide that sets the voice to be used in communications i.e. friendly, casual

Positioning and personality - gives team members the on brand language to use

There can also be a set of templates for everything from presentations to emails that can shorten the time it takes to create anything and streamline the process - freeing up the team for more important tasks.

This step also ensures that you don’t have to worry if someone is going to say the wrong thing or put an image of the devil on the sales brochure.

Use technology to plan and monitor your work

Another step that can help to ensure consistency is to use a project management program to set timelines and deadlines for getting work done. Tools like Asana, Trello and Basecamp become a source of record and easily connect teams that can be all over the world. The power of technology can create efficiency and consistency for any daily task. The can also keep track of how long it takes to complete tasks and projects. This can be useful in resource planning and cost estimation.

With all of the tools and technology available today, the ability to maintain consistency is easier than ever. Sure it takes some time, but the payoff is when your customers rave about how your service is superior to others. Then you can sit back and truly enjoy that brisket taco in foreign lands.

Til next time.

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Simple Design Tricks That Will Dramatically Improve Response (Really)

Anyone who has played golf knows how difficult it is to hit a drive off the tee. It seems fairly simple - just grab the club and hit the little white ball right?

It seems really simple.

But in fact it is very complex action involving strength, concentration and physics. You have to keep track of no

less than at minimum seven body parts just to swing the club. Not to mention not missing that ball.

And the follow through is key as well so the ball doesn’t veer off into the woods. Or that beautiful picture window on the million dollar home over there.

What looks simple is complex and takes practice.

When you look at a piece of content that catches your attention, the same thinking applies.

It can look really simple, but that simplicity is deceptive. It is a complex dance between elements that is harder than it looks. And it takes practice to achieve.

Some simple design tricks to keep in mind can help improve your design and increase conversion.

What is it about that design that makes us want to click or watch without tuning out?

It takes practice. You must be consistent about it. Deliberate.

There are steps you can take to ensure consistent design, leading to increased response.

This is especially important in today’s mobile enabled environment where people and prospects access information on smart phones. Good design can be the difference between results that are okay and ones that can send you on a dream vacation with the extra income you just made.

Design for your audience

Keep in mind your audience, why they are taking time out of their day to stop by your site and what motivates them. We’ve all been to a website for the hot new restaurant we want to try, looking to make a reservation, only to be frustrated by the lack of a button for directions or mobile enabled site. That visit is totally different than checking out a site looking for a great recipe to save for the best BBQ brisket you want to foist upon your buddies when they come over to watch the season opener. Knowing your audience is key to good design. It affects the visuals you use, the writing style and length of copy, the most powerful call to action and total user experience.

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Above the Fold

Imagine your website as a newspaper. Most newspapers fold in half. The top half of the paper is referred to as above the fold. It always carries the most important news of the day. He same hold true for your website. Above the fold is the first thing that visitors see.

It is vitally important to place the key elements of your website, the headline, call to action and services you offer, above the fold. And they should be designed to keep visitors on your site and “egging” them to scroll for more.

Elements in balance

Balance - formal (symmetrical) everything on one side is repeated on the other  - elements on imaginary vertical center line are in equal portions on left and right

When you were a kid and trying to ride a bike, one of the key things you had to learn was how to keep your balance. It’s the same thing when designing a website. Too much stuff on one side of the page and it falls flat. Conversions suffer.

Whatever goes on the page needs to be in balance. Visual weight too much to one side or heavy graphics at the top of the page with nothing else below can negatively affect page load as well as reduce what may be an effective copy block with call to action. Imagine a center line and know that visually appealing content in balance increases readability and the chance that your prospect will convert. This is what so many ecommerce sites use a grid approach - it forces a balance to the page.

An example of a page that is not balanced:

Give it some space

Cramming everything you can on a page and stuffing it with words and images leads users to suffer from visual claustrophobia. Everything all in one place might seem like a good idea to try and satisfy users, but if they can’t focus it leads to frustration.

You have to give a page white space and room to breathe so that users can actually read the copy and absorb the images on the page. A visually pleasing layout has good margins and uses whitespace to separate elements. Good use of space also allows you to focus attention on your call to action - the most important element on the page.

Break it up into pleasing proportions and align elements on the page so users spend more time on the page. Topics can be handled with sections on a page or broken into different pages. You want to avoid using parallel structure and obvious alignment, it needs to be more subtle so that people are curious. Allows them to take a little time and weave their way around. Not to the point of difficulty, but just enough to entertain a little.

An example of a site that does NOT use white space:

Tie elements together

Just like pieces of a puzzle, the elements used on your site should fit together. They should look like they belong together, are related and make good use of visual harmony. A well designed page uses a central theme that holds the page together.

It is easy to see this design in action. A page that uses different, jarring colors, that distracts the visitor and is not pleasing to the eye, increases your bounce rate. Multiple fonts that clash with each other making a site hard to read also reduce conversion. Images that clearly don’t fit together and don’t use a common theme also lead users to run from a site.

An example of a site that does not use a theme and elements that work well together:

An example of a site that demonstrates unity and consistent theme:

One element should be the focus of the page

There should be one element that dominates the page. It can be a visual image, graphic, video or headline, but there should only be one that is a focus of the page. All others should serve as supportive elements, but not distracting from the main focus.

This approach calls importance to the key message and benefits of your site. Visitors and prospects can easily see what you offer and find the information that drove them to land on your site in the first place.

Keep it simple

Pages should be simple, have one single idea allowing for the focus of the reader. Keep it simple has been a mantra used for ages and with good reason. Too many complex ideas, thoughts or elements confuse users and confusion causes visitors to hesitate which leads conversions to drop.

If you follow the rule one page, one idea the focus will feel almost second nature. Your visitors will appreciate the time you take to create focus, as their needs will be met because it is easier to find what they were looking for.

A site that has way too much:

Simple is better:

Copy

Some sites prefer to engage readers in long copy blocks to increase time spent on a page way up. Depends on the goals and objectives. Retail store fronts want a conversion as quickly as possible. Blogs want to hold reader in a long form technique. Whatever the purpose, it goes back to who your audience is and what motivates them to take action.

Knowing this will dictate the amount of copy.

Whatever the quantity - must be easy to read on the page. Choose a font that is easy to read. Put an appropriate amount of space between lines so that visitors can easily read the copy.

The quality of your copy is also important. Write as if you are talking to a friend. Write like you talk.

Also review your work for typos. Errors can kill conversions. Use a proofreader and editor if you can. An expense that is well worth it and can actually save your time.

An example of copy that doesn't work well.

Use Images

Too much of anything is never good. So when you use only copy for your website, it can’t lead to conversions.

Using images takes advantage of research that shows people respond better to visuals than text. Images also have the advantage of communicating an emotion and connecting in a very simple way.

When using images make sure that they are of high quality. There are several sites that offer images that are right free and low or no cost, Unsplash​,  Design Rush and Big Stock

Also check to make sure that you are compressing your images so that they load quickly. There are a variety of plug ins that can help, including Hummingbird or Kraken.

Call to Acti​on

Your call to action should be placed in one of two areas, both above the fold. The ideal placement depends on your layout. Placement of the call to action should be in the center of the page or to the center right in the layout. If you use an image on the right, forcing the reader to focus on the center of the page, the call to action will then be best in the center left. This is again an element that has been tested by others over and over. Take a look at other sites that are e-commerce related that count on clicks for revenue.

The copy in the button should use action verbs. You can get a reference sheet that gives you tips for creating a great call to action, including a list of action verbs that work.

Buy now. Click to Buy. Get it Now. Free. Many different ways to say it, but keep it short and action oriented. Subscribe is okay, but more action is better.

Color that stands out. Blue, green and red work well. Even a yellow or orange if it works with your color palette and doesn’t violate the rules of unity.

So many people A/B test the color of the button. Waste of time. More important to test main benefit, offer or headline. Don’t overthink the button color. Seriously, choose one of the three main colors that have been proven to work. Don’t believe me? Look at all the major sites that sell SaaS products. Mostly blue, green. Maybe a yellow if it fits their brand palette. But again, don’t waste time and effort on thinking too hard about button color. People click on a strong offer, not because the button is orange.

Consolidate what works for you into a standards guide.

When you have a set of design elements that work for you, write them down and keep them updated in a document that everyone can access. Usually referred to as a brand standards guide or design guide, it helps keep everyone focused on what has worked in the past and how you want your site to look. Every time.

A brand standards guide also sets the look for your company and brand. It lets readers know that the work they are viewing is from your brand. It captures a signature design that is unique including fonts, a color palette and a tone for copy.

Keeping track of different elements that you have tried and the results of those tests should also be committed to documentation so you don't waste time and effort testing the same things over and over again. The last thing you want to do is spin your wheels testing small variations of something you were already supposed to learn.

Test and revise

Testing different elements and structure on your site can provide needed direction. But again, test things that matter - headlines, benefit statements, imagery and a long versus short sales page. Button color and changing one word are not significant. Save the time and effort of conducting a test for things that are significant changes. And make sure that the traffic splits yield enough of an audience to deem the results statistically significant. The size of each testing group should provide at least 90% confidence interval. You can read more about statistical significance and audience size at the links below:

https://www.optimizely.com/optimization-glossary/statistical-significance/

https://hbr.org/2016/02/a-refresher-on-statistical-significance

We’ve summarized all the points in a handy guide you can get by clicking the (you guessed it) call to action below.

You won’t get this kind of guide from your golf pro showing you how to swing a golf club. It will prevent you from hitting into the woods. Put them into practice and eventually you will be hitting right down the fairway every time.

Till next time.

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We’ve Created A Handy Guide to Help You Manage the Daily Hurricane of Data

As the end of summer approaches, I love the annual appearance of the windswept weather guy on our favorite news channel.

You know the one, he attempts to stand in the thrashing wind, slammed by waves that would toss a small boat onto the sidewalk, reporting on the nasty hurricane conditions as the wind blows him off camera and into the ocean.

You might feel like that weather guy every day as you get pummeled by a constant stream of data and numbers to review, trying to get a handle on your business.

There might be a break in the clouds and you hope for a reprieve.

Only to realize that it was the eye of the storm passing and you are about to get whipped by the circular motion of the data cycle that begins again.

In 2012, 639,800 gigabytes of global IP data was transferred every minute. By the end of 2013 it had increased to 1,572,877 gigabytes each minute. That is a staggering 130% increase in just one year. This statistic highlights the tension we feel as we attempt to understand the state of our business.

Source: Intel

The average time spent on devices increased 157% in just four years. No doubt a result of the explosion of platforms and the connectivity they bring long after the workday is over.

Source:

All this connectivity creates information. From who our customers are and if they liked our latest offers. To their return rates and satisfaction after the sale. Data is crucial to understanding what is working - or not - and how our efforts are affecting the bottom line.

Without a plan to manage the flood of data, you're rowing in the ocean with a small paddle, searching for the right information that can be the life preserver of profitability.   We have been able to use data to understand and fine-tune our businesses for decades.

Business analysis had, until recently, been the exclusive domain of Fortune 1000 companies. Developments in technology give even the bakery on the corner the ability to test, measure and adjust flavors every hour if needed. With tools in the cloud, sophisticated data sorting and real-time analysis can tell us if chocolate or red velvet is a crowd pleaser.

We should be using all the data we can get our hands on. How do we manage the constant stream and make sense of it all?   The key is having a plan and using the right tools to gain insight. A flight over the storm to see where you are now and where it’s headed - so that you can plan ahead and find the safest harbor.

Click here to download a FREE bonus tips to managing data

We've created this guide to help in several ways.   In this post and in the tools we created that you can download for free, we outline the six steps designed to help you figure out the data you have, organize and prioritize it, add what might be missing and ways to manage for the future.   The six steps covered in detail are:

  • Getting the right team together
  • A review of the data you are collecting now
  • Analysis and scoring
  • Filling in the gaps
  • Taming the spreadsheets with tools
  • Test run, revisions and implementation

Before we start, we need to assemble the right team.

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Getting the Right Team Together

A project of this size works best if you have a cross-functional team and senior management buy-in.   This will ensure you get help from people that create and use the reports and that they are invested in the future plan. The last thing that you want is to only have a few departments involved in the effort. You run the risk having an incomplete picture for the company.

Having the right team will help you frame the project as a positive contribution. Some people may feel threatened and fear that changing report creation will take away a task that is now their job.

To be sure that the project is viewed in a positive way, get buy-in from all levels of the company for the project first. Use internal communication tools to spread the word about the effort. This is key to a successful implementation. Help folks understand that increasing clarity around data creates a more profitable company and benefits everyone.

The Review

To develop a sound plan for managing data, you must begin with an understanding of what your organization is already spending time and effort collecting and creating.   Having a team that represents all functional areas of the company is critical in this early stage.   Your team can assist in gathering every report that is currently created. They will know if their team is creating a critical spreadsheet they rely on every day to manage their business.

Once you have gathered all the information, tear apart the reports to understand the information that is key for your business. This might appear to be a daunting task given the reams of paper in front of you, but it is critical in creating the right plan and flexible path for the future.   Download a tool we have created that you can use to help sort your data.

Click here to download FREE Data Points Scorecard

The guide has several functional groups filled in that can be changed based on your organization. Typically they will be departments like finance, marketing, sales and operations. The groups can also be product or customer focused depending on your organization.

Analysis and Scoring

Chart the key data points from each existing report and their source.   For example, operations might report the number of items produced for a given product line each day. Sales could report sales data by channel for that same product. They could be combined in an existing report. By separating the individual components, you can use that data in a different way, providing new insight into your business.

After you have this step completed, it is important to define who is going to use the data - not everyone needs - or wants - access to everything. List the names and titles of people that currently access or use this data. This then becomes a guide for what team members and titles in the organization are granted access to the reports that are generated. Don’t worry if you are missing someone, that will become obvious in the testing phase. If someone is missing access to a key report, they will let you know right away.

The next step is to rank each piece of data. If it is mission critical give it a score of 5. If it is a nice to have, give it a score of 3. And if you are asking yourself why in the world you would care about that information, give it a score of 1. This will create a scorecard that allows you to structure the data and make hard choices about your data needs. This scorecard can be used to define the most important information that forms the top line page of the dashboard.

The scorecard can help you understand the data that should be the focus of your efforts. Start with the mission critical list. Some of the reports coded as nice to haves may be constructed from mission critical reports. The scorecard will also let you cut down what is not key to managing the business. Don’t get bogged down by others that want to look at more – people can only focus on few points – this process forces focus.   After assigning a score to each piece of data, move to the next stage of the project - understanding what you are missing and what you might need for the future.

Filling in Gaps

Once you have sorted the scorecard and rated the data that is most important in managing your business, you can see what you might be missing.

Create a road map to gauge the data you are collecting now and the data you are going to need in the future as your business grows and expands.

Data can be organized and coded many different ways. But you can’t report on what you don’t have - so the scorecard will help you understand what might be missing. From here you can fill in the gaps and create a fuller picture to help manage the business. This might lead to generating data from new sources.

Some reports are generated to answer one question one time - but the report is still generated in case the question comes up again. The source data that is used to create an ad hoc report can be placed in the data storehouse, and by understanding what you have and how it can be combined, future ad hoc reporting - along with time and effort it takes - can be minimized.

Taming the Spreadsheets With Tools

With the scorecard complete, it is time to take the most important pieces of data and meld them into a new tool that takes the numbers and presents them in a visually appealing dashboard. Unchaining the data from a basic spreadsheet can provide more frequent and automatic updating. There are many resources can help - from simple dashboard tools to sophisticated enterprise-level business intelligence engines.

We created a quick guide to some of the most popular tools around - CLICK HERE TO READ.

The list provides a few tools to review and try. Most offer a free trial using your own data which can provide a good idea if they will work in your specific environment. The dashboard you choose should reflect the priorities that you outlined in your scorecard.

If the focus of the data is more financial in nature, you would want to ensure that the ones you test and confirm have robust capabilities in that area. If the data will be used in a more general way, then one that has a broad scope, but might limit the depth, could be a better choice.

The key is to not rush to a decision. Choose several to test and use a trial period to find the best fit. You are now ready for the next step in the data evolution - testing to ensure flawless execution.

Test, Review, Revise and Implement

Once you have chosen a dashboard tool to assist in creating the reporting environment, you will move into a critical testing phase. You should start the testing phase with sample data and if all goes well, test with a live data feed. The timing of this stage will be dependent on tracking down reporting errors and fixing flaws. The new dashboards you create will be compared to existing reports to ensure accuracy. This is key as if reports are wrong, all the work potentially be wiped away as teams will not trust the information.

Be patient and allow plenty of time on the schedule for this step. After a successful live test, you will want to set up a test site where you can provide access to end users and invite feedback. This test site should also include the permission levels and secure areas that will be part of the final product.   This will ensure the visibility of sensitive data is executed the way that you want and need it to be. The final product should meet their needs - and if it doesn’t - be open and willing to change.

Depending on the size of your organization, you might have to start with one group or department and deploy each conversion one at a time. There is no shame in starting small and expanding. It is smart to start with a smaller data set instead of trying to manage an entire organization’s reporting needs.

Fewer data points translates into a smaller test footprint. This makes it easy to track down flaws in the testing and implementation phase.

Final View

With the right team, clear analysis, structure and tools, the tide of data that can overwhelm your business can be calmed into a smooth stream. Illuminating and providing understanding of potential. All while saving time and money.

To get a FREE PDF of the 6 Steps to Managing the Hurricane of Data - click this link:

Click here to download a FREE bonus tips to managing data

To get a copy of the FREE scorecard tool to help you Manage the Hurricane of Data - click this link:

Click here to download FREE Data Points Scorecard

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Here Are 10 Tools You Can Use to Manage Data

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.

Good times!

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.

Click here to get a FREE bonus Ten Tools to Manage Data

Good Data

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.

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iDashboards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Logi Analytics

Logi Analytics offers two different tools that cover visual display of data and insights based on data. Logi Info provides a platform designed for technology professionals that allow companies to rapidly deploy interactive dashboards. Logi Vision allows users to connect existing applications and spreadsheets, blending data to uncover patterns without code. Reports can be totally customized with CSS and Javascript. Logi gets high marks for mobile use and low cost of implementation. If you are looking for a rapid deployment at a lower cost point, Logi should be on the evaluation list.

Board

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.

IBM Cognos

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.

Microsoft Business Intelligence

Microsoft Sharepoint

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.

Oracle Business Analytics

Oracle Enterprise Business Intelligence

Oracle Hyperion

SAP - A standard in the space, SAP has several broad product options including SAP BusinessObjects and SAP Lumira.

SAP BusinessObjects

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.

SAS Analytics

SAS Business Intelligence

SAS Visual Analytics

 

Closing View

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.

Click here to get a FREE Software Evaluation Tool

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.

To get a FREE PDF of this guide, fill out the form below:

Click here to get a FREE bonus Ten Tools to Manage Data

 

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