We are all used to information being at the tips of our fingers. The days of sitting at a bar arguing over what year Ghostbusters came out are long gone, now that we all have access to that data on our mobile devices. As this type of access to data becomes an everyday fact of life, the business world seems to be mired in the past.
Business Intelligence (BI) tools have traditionally been reactive tools that require users to work through a team of IT experts. Those experts in turn furnish the end user with access to critical decision making reports. This model is cumbersome. In some cases, it can be too slow to work in the fast paced business world of 2014. This is where self-service BI tools come in.
The Way It Was: Traditional BI Tools
BI tools have been a function driven by the IT department. Software selection, access control, modeling and reporting were all handled by IT. Why is this? Several factors contribute to the need to have IT drive tools, data and reporting.
- Data: The more data the business team has access to, the better decisions they can make. Housing, controlling and sorting this data is a chore for the IT department. This means that warehousing this large amount of data requires the skills and talent of data experts.
Along with those experts, expensive database software was needed to store all the data. The tools, coupled with the specialized knowledge on how to access the data requires that when decision makers need to access the data, they must make a request to IT for reporting.
- Reporting: Due to the complex structure of our data warehousing tools, only the experts and advanced users were capable of accessing the data in a timely manner. Reports, when needed, were typically prewritten or canned by IT professionals using suites of reporting tools. If custom data was needed, a request was submitted to the IT department in order to build a custom report. While advanced or computer savvy users could do this on their own – provided they had access – typical business end users do not have the skills needed. This left business users looking to fill a gap so they could get the data that they needed on their own timetable, without having to bother the IT department.
Google Searching and How We Access Data
Imagine you and your friends are at a party, arguing over the Yankees’ team batting averages. To settle the argument, you check Google. Your search results offer a dashboard with teams and averages, but this season’s average has not been posted yet.
As a matter of fact, the most recent team averages that are up there are 4 years old, because the reporting tools have not caught up with the data available. Not very convenient is it?
This is the world in which traditional BI exists. Yes, the above example is pretty simplistic. Thankfully, we now live in a world where Google and Major League Baseball provide us with the tools to find out the team batting average up to the current game.
We can sort by parts of the season, past seasons, and look at any combination of players we want to know about. Not only that, but we have access to a host of other statistics at our fingertips. Embedded BI can help us achieve something like this goal, quickly and efficiently.
The Benefits of Third Party Embedded BI
Embedding BI tools into your current software or applications can offer several advantages over traditional methods. Just like your Google search for baseball stats, you can search on relevant information right from your current business tools. This allows you to have the data you need at your fingertips.
- Embedded BI Adds Value to Your Data. Customers are not patient, and that means that they do not want to wait for you to retrieve data. You can add value by delivering data quickly.
- Reduces Costs. When developing an in house BI solution, that means you need to keep a team of engineers to maintain it, costing you time and money. A third party solution can provide you with the support you need to keep you focused on your business and not the maintaining the IT aspects of BI.
- Minimizes the Learning Curve. Since your end users already know their current business software, embedding BI tools into an interface with which they are familiar saves them from having to learn separate tools.
As easier access to more data becomes common place in our everyday lives, it only stands to reason that having these same tools available for the work place makes sense. Consider integrating self-service and embedded BI tools into your applications today.
At Izenda, we are all about the next generation of business software. We help keep our clients ahead of the curve by providing ad-hoc reporting and visualizations that help businesses make better decisions from their data.