What is business intelligence? Often referred to as simply “BI,” business intelligence is a software application that can be used to analyze the raw data a company produces. These applications provide a series of related activities, from data mining to querying and reporting, so that organizations can cut costs, make better decisions, and identify new opportunities.
The challenge of business intelligence is the implementation process of this umbrella of applications and functions. The cost of installing the necessary infrastructure can sometimes be beyond what an organization’s budget may allow.
Are you weighing the pros and cons of business intelligence today? Then here are some of the key points to consider in this debate to see if these systems could be what you need.
What Are the Pros of Business Intelligence?
1. You can information wherever you happen to be.
Modern business intelligence has moved to mobile platforms. You can even have BI in the Cloud if you prefer. This means you can always have the information when you need it, whether you’re taking a long holiday weekend or meeting a prospect for lunch to close a deal.
2. People can go “hands-on” with the data.
In the past, business intelligence was all about the creation of reports and spreadsheets. You could spend days pouring over that data, looking for nuggets of beneficial information. Thanks to many tech upgrades over the years, BI applications are more interactive than ever before. This allows you to see the data in more effective and efficient ways.
3. You get to manage big data in real time.
Sometimes you need to make a split-second decision. This means you need to have the most up-to-date information that is available. Today’s BI applications can feed organizations information in real-time so that tactics or strategies can be changed immediately by those who are engaging with the data.
4. It is often freely scalable.
When you’re using BI software and applications, then there are many solutions available today that can let you operate at a scale that is right for your organization. This includes pay-per-use options, subscription options, and other pay-as-you-go opportunities. Businesses are able to get the intelligence they need when they need it, but don’t have to pay for it during those times when they don’t need it.
5. It’s easier to track your KPIs.
Business Intelligence allows organizations to better track how their Key Performance Indicators [KPIs] are being fulfilled. The umbrella of tools can look at the big data, help develop useful metrics, and this ultimately makes a company more effective at what it does.
6. You can visualize data more quickly.
Modern BI applications can help put big data into understandable graphics almost instantly. Instead of comparing and contrasting figures on a massive spreadsheet, an entire executive team can look and graphical data which represents their KPIs and other actionable information. The end result is better reports and a clearer understanding of the big picture.
7. There are numerous helpful communities actively involved in BI.
The number of forums where business intelligence is discussed is ever growing. There are 24/7 customer service lines that can help you with your preferred applications. Even if you’ve never really thought about BI before and working in IT hasn’t been your thing, there are still great user interfaces available today that can help you get going with better goals and decisions. You don’t need to hire a BI expert to get the most out of your big data these days.
What Are the Cons of Business Intelligence?
1. People can see different conclusions from the same data.
The analytics provided by business intelligence applications are consistent. What business intelligence must counter is the inconsistency that comes from the human decision-making process. Different people will look at the data umbrella and see two very different outcomes, which means an organization must spend time finding middle ground.
2. It blends professional and personal boundaries.
Business intelligence may require employees to use personal devices to access this information. The data collected on a targeted demographic may be considered private information by some that they don’t want to have used by an organization. Even when all care is taken, there is still a blending of boundaries within BI that can make some people quite uncomfortable.
3. Data security is questionable.
If you’re using mobile BI applications, then the threat of hacking can put your sensitive or proprietary information at risk. Data hacks at Target, Home Depot, and other retailers prove that other systems aren’t 100% safe either. Unless your system is completely disconnected from an online portal, the threat of have a security breach is something which must always be proactively considered.
4. Cost will always be a potential issue.
Even companies that use mobile or Cloud-based solutions for their BI applications may struggle with the costs involved in data management. Business intelligence as an industry has several vendors and their software as a service can be very different from one another. Not every vendor has transparent pricing either. Add in the data overages or premium services and even a cheap pay-as-you-go system might be too much.
5. Regulations are evolving for business intelligence.
Precedents for litigation over unsecured data are being set right now. Legal sanctions or regulatory sanctions can even be placed on organizations who experience a data breach. As technologies change, the regulations also change, and if a company isn’t evolving their BI applications, they could put themselves at risk for a catastrophic loss should a security event occur.
6. Availability may also be an issue.
Business intelligence is available for most companies today, but not every industry is well-developed. Some are just starting to embrace what BI applications can provide. Others have been managing their big data for decades successfully. Not every business will experience this disadvantage, but those that do could find limited availability for some time to come.
7. You may need multiple BI applications.
There are numerous business intelligence options available today. Many of them will provide one specific surface. To get the most out of your big data, you may need to invest into an entire umbrella of services to make sure your BI is fully integrated.
The pros and cons of business intelligence generally show that the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages that come from implementing big data solutions. Look for software applications and interactive tools to get the most out of the information you already have so you can make the good business decisions that will keep you in the black year after year.
How do you feel about business intelligence? What are some ideas that you or your company have implemented that have helped you? We’d love to have you share some of your success stories with us today.