What Are the 6 Things You Need to Look for in BI Tools?


The business landscape is changing along with evolving technologies. What was good enough to succeed five or 10 years ago isn’t going to cut it today, no matter your industry. Business intelligence is one area that’s experiencing rapid progression toward more modern tools. People looking to upgrade their organization’s BI toolbox should think about these six things.

Real-Time Data Analytics

In the past, there was a level of latency inherently built into the process of analyzing data. All that information had to be collected, stored, accessed, interpreted, and reported through semi-manual processes. Now, real-time data analytics is revolutionizing the availability of insights.

Things that used to take days or weeks to even get put into a database—and even longer to turn into something usable—are now instantly accessible. Businesses that harness the latest in BI tools find themselves able to extract timely, relevant insights to influence performance.

Supply chain and warehouse management is a great example of this concept in action. Data can be collected by sensors, immediately stored, and then be available for use in analytics. Instead of having to look at last month’s data set to check something like time to build Widget A, you can see how long it’s taking right now. There’s massive potential for this immediacy to be used in a wide array of enterprises and industries.

Artificial Intelligence Capabilities

BI systems today should be advanced enough to assist data analysts in discovering insights — that’s where artificial intelligence (AI) tools enter the picture. AI-driven analytics tools are capable of automatically finding insights hidden deep within data and pushing them directly into employees’ workflows. Without this AI-driven approach, your organization will inevitably miss out on valuable information that could positively impact your business outcomes.

Usable by All Employees

There’s currently a big movement in BI toward greater data democratization. What does this mean? Essentially, it’s creating a system that allows a greater number of people access to data insights — no in-depth data background necessary to use the tools or understand the insights.

Older BI systems were incapable of this due to their complexity and structure. Only members of the data team interface with data directly. This kind of setup lead to big backlogs in request fulfillment.

Deploying a BI platform capable of democratizing data leads to enterprise-wide benefits. Workers don’t have to wait around for a response from the data team in order to get actionable insights on certain topics. But this makes it important to look for a BI platform that allows for customizable permissions, so people only have access to data they need.

Interactive Embedded Dashboards

Working off the previous point, the dashboards of a BI system play a major role in its usability — these are what users see day-to-day. The BI dashboard is the starting point for analytics adoption throughout an org. When users can build, customize and embed dashboards within existing workflows, the data is that much more likely to end up in the right place at the right time.

ThoughtSpot is one example of a next-generation BI platform that gives users the ability to do more with dashboards. Its search-driven analytics tool — like a search engine, but for data — and any charts or dashboards produced are embeddable into company portals and shared apps.

Scalable to Your Needs

Not every business needs the same things from BI tools. A brand-new company is going to have much different concerns and constraints than one that has been around for 20 years. You want to find a BI platform that works around this complexity with scalable features.

When you’re just starting your analytics program, you’re going to be more limited in terms of finances and expertise. You should only pay for features that you need during the early parts of operations. But you also need to be able to seamlessly scale up once things start progressing — with more users and more data sources in the mix. Having to switch BI platforms too soon down the line due to lack of scalability is a waste of time and resources.

Dedication to Security

Your data is extremely valuable. But it’s not just worth protecting because of how it can be useful to you. You also need to keep it safe to protect it from exploitation.

Data breaches are a common occurrence in today’s world. Your internal and customer data might be valuable to someone for the wrong reasons. It’s important to choose a BI tool that will keep you protected from external and internal threats.

The future belongs to companies that use data to their greatest advantage. You can do this by finding the right BI tools for your enterprise.

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