Mesmerizing words like big data, data visualization, business intelligence… we have been hearing and using these words quite frequently in our day to day conversations.
And why not? After all, this industry is one among the fastest growing. With so much new information flowing into virtually all businesses via different sources – online visitors engagement on company websites and other social spaces, contracts and agreements, project documents, emails, notices and certificates, surveys to name just a few, the buying appetite of companies for BI solutions is also increasing. The latest tools available in the market go way beyond the standard charts and graphs used in Excel spreadsheets, displaying data in ever more meaningful and sophisticated ways such as infographics, geographic maps, sparklines, dials and gauges, heat maps, and detailed bar, pie and fever charts.
But wait! How many of the business’ users actually make tactical business decisions using the insight generated through these tools? What has been often observed is that the information provided is typically from a wider perspective giving a broader picture of the organization or situation. This aids in strategic decision making, but it often doesn’t leave room for a specific, narrowed analysis using available data for lower level managers or department heads to run their day to day operations effectively. For this, they tend to go back to their most trusted friend: spreadsheets.
But manually managing data on a spreadsheet can be tempered and fooled around with, leading in some cases to a biased or manipulative interpretation.
So the problem in hand still remains and begs for an answer to the bigger question “What can be done to develop the most probable solution?”
Here are few tips to handle these situations effectively:
- The BI tools subscribed should not just give attractively designed and “mesmerizing” information but should provide insight that is specifically suited to make better business decisions.
- Instead of relying on tools giving standard reports, companies should demand their vendors deliver highly customized tools to better suit their organization, their data and their decision making process.
- Spreadsheet integration can help users to further analyze the data provided by the tool.
- All the key stakeholders and decision makers should be involved at the time of designing and deploying the BI tool/software. Don’t leave lower-level decision makers out or include them as an afterthought.
- Employees should be well trained on how to extract meaningful, actionable information from the BI reports provided to them.
A BI project should not be seen as just a way to explore data or experiment with visualization, but a way to get meaningful information which can help different individuals, departments and organizations make better decisions that ultimately, run their business more efficiently.
Successful implementation of BI initiatives: Some tips