Tag: BI solution

What Makes up the Total Cost of BI?

If you’re currently in the market for a business intelligence solution, then it’s assumed that your organization is in the mind-state of growth. It’s likely that your business is growing at a pace that is getting difficult to handle or maybe the pace is consistent, but you have a thirst for a new way of managing your analytics and internal statistics.

Whatever your reason, business intelligence (BI) has the potential to revolutionize your company and the way your employees perform their duties.

While a business often shows interest in investing in business intelligence, they soon become hesitant once the conversation of cost comes up. And rightfully so — the decision makers of a company want to be able to maximize their revenue and only invest in long-term solutions if it’s absolutely necessary. We understand this.

Cost of business intelligenceMost businesses should be concerned with their bottom line, but they should also be concerned with the future of company operations to ensure the growth of their company lasts longer than the present.

While the costs of implementing a full-fledged business intelligence solution varies greatly by provider, additions specific to your industry or company, licensing and more, we won’t be able to give you the exact dollar amount that you want to read. However, what we can tell you are the major components that will make up the cost that you’ll be billed for after you receive a quote from a vendor. And that’s what we’ll do below.


This portion of your BI solution is the meat and bones of the overall BI concept. While the cost of the software has a wide range, this is the part where it’s all up to you to determine which capabilities you want, what kind of interface works best for your team and which vendor are you willing to partner with for the next couple of years. This portion of your overall BI investment is the first to be determined, but is not the majority of the cost of the entire BI package.

Installation & Implementation

In most cases, the vendor that provided the software will also have to install it into the workplace. And these prices can get costly. Often times, the installation is just the beginning as tasks like report building or configuration have to also be taught to the users of the new BI software. But prior to having the software installed, make sure to analyze it to make sure that it’s as user-friendly as you intend it to be and has an easy integration process.

User trainingUser Training

What good is a business intelligence solution if it’s difficult to navigate, right? It’s a necessary part of the process as you don’t want to invest in a new technology and have your team be reluctant or too nervous to make use of it. Before you invest in any solution, ask about how long it would reasonably take to train a staff of your size.


Who’s going to be the boss once the installers leave? With new software comes new responsibility and this is something that can either be assigned to your IT team or can be a totally new hire. The costly part of determining and training an administrator is the fact that training them will take them away from their already-established duties. Depending on your BI solution, you may want to hire a consultant to help you manage the software and its accompanying tools.

Upkeep & Maintenance

Just like your car, you have to keep the machine well oiled and running smoothly. Budgeting for this portion can be difficult to gauge as many unforeseen issues can arrive. Look into change management processing when researching your BI solution. This way, you’ll be able to see which applications or reports are being used the most and see the ones that aren’t adding value to your company operations.

While you will likely have to speak to a vendor to get hardcore numbers or projections, we hope this post will help you understand the major sections that will make up that quote.

Remember, business intelligence is an investment that will likely take a while to perfect. However, it should ultimately serve your organization with high-quality reporting and analysis so you can continue to achieve success and fluidity within your operations.


What to Do When Your BI Expires

As the saying goes: all good things must come to an end. And the category of “good things” should definitely include your business intelligence software. In order to keep your technology up-to-date (and to make sure you continue paying the supplier), BI software providers make it a note to add new features every couple of years. Sometimes, users are able to continue on their current system for several years without upgrading, but even those original softwares will eventually expire.

In this post, we’ll evaluate your options once your business intelligence solution becomes no longer valid.

Considering Your Options

Before any major decisions are made, it’s advised that you take the time to weigh your options to determine which one will give you more bang for your buck. And more than that, remember that business intelligence is an investment that pays off in time. This means you should prioritize getting the best data for your organization first and then look at pricing as a second priority.

Staying & Upgrading

As a recent and relevant example, Microsoft’s SQL Server 2005 has served users with a decade of business intelligence. Now, despite its long-tenured history, that 2005 version is set to expire in April 2016. While users can migrate to a new system entirely, they can also simply upgrade to the 2014 version of SQL Server. This saves staffs ample amounts of time by staying with the same framework and only having to learn the updates, rather than an entirely different software.

Another perk of staying with your BI solution is that the migration of data from one system to another will likely be seamless as companies are eager to move you to their latest versions. There’s great value and comfort that comes with staying with your already-established team and if you’re satisfied with the service up to this point, then hopefully their upgrades will appease any of your doubts.

Migrate to Another System

Of course, another option organizations have is to ditch their current BI supplier for another one that may be more promising. Due to contracts or user agreements, some companies may feel trapped with their BI supplier and have decided to just make the most out of their equipment until it expires.

Once it expires, however, it can feel like a breath of fresh air where all the options are now on the table again — like a free agent athlete. If you find yourself in this situation, make sure to evaluate your last BI software.

Ask yourself: What did I like? What more do I need? How much am I willing to spend? What kind of data will be necessary?

When you have these questions answered for yourself, make sure to drill the sales teams of other BI suppliers to ensure your next commitment is fruitful and effective for your company.

Ditch BI Entirely & Go Back to DIY

The least popular option when your BI solution expires would be to take a step back and ditch BI software entirely. This option may work well for organizations that are losing money or aren’t big enough to warrant such heavy data collection.

Rather than searching for new technology, one can look for an in-house specialist to analyze data and help coordinate decision making. This option can be extremely less expensive. Plus, one will have the opportunity to speak to someone about their data rather than trying to understand what the software is trying to tell you.

No matter which of these options you choose, it’s imperative that you speak with your managers and decision makers to ensure your next step is one in the right direction and towards a more efficient and profitable business.


Adding an “As Of” Date to TARGIT Reports

Financial statements in TARGIT are often constructed with comparisons and calculations for more exact formatting. The comparisons can hold elements for current and previous years, quarters, months, or any combination of time you can think of. We have had trouble in the past with adding the actual date to these TARGIT reports, especially if we’re using the dynamic date origin to go back in time to see data before today.

While the “as of” date is visible in the client view, it is (or has been) difficult to see the same date in a report, since the dynamic date origin can’t be added to the printable page.

Two possibilities we tried and immediately rejected were using a detail band with the ‘Posting Date’ dimension (Picture 1) and a crosstab header band with a text element (Picture 2). The detail band attempted to pull every single date and locked up TARGIT with its data request. The text element sort of worked, but it was impossible to line it up to the correct column after data was fetched for the report.

Picture 1


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The next solution we tried was adding dynamic captions to the time comparison. Unfortunately, this is an “all or nothing” action: you can’t have a caption on just one column (the current or YTD column), and you can’t hide the other captions on the elements through Properties\Visibility. This is a big deal when you’re using a comparison with many elements; you end up with lots of different dates in the header, making it harder to read.

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Finally, we started thinking independently of the crosstab with the comparison or trying to line up a text element with a crosstab column “just so.” We built a separate crosstab with the intent of hiding all of its data and essentially using it just for its column header. This column header shows a comparison with a single element, YTD, and the header uses a dynamic caption to display {posting date:last} from the Date dimension.

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Only one measure and the comparison are required to make this work. The measure number is masked under a visibility agent (hide all values), and the data row background color of the crosstab theme is changed from grey to white to make it seem more like a simple header than an empty crosstab; this also helps with the spacing in a report.

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Simply add a new crosstab band to the top of any report and import this “As Of [Date]” object into it. “Fit to page width” is an excellent option to apply here, and voila! You can display today’s (or yesterday’s, or any day’s) date on the TARGIT reports easily and with no confusion.

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Learn more on how to improve your Business Intelligence solution and TARGIT reports below!


Is BI Worth the Money?

If the conversation of business intelligence comes up, one of the first questions that will come up from interested companies is “Is it really worth the investment?” And that’s a tough question to answer as it’s hard to give out guarantees because much of the payoff has to do with the work done on your end.

One thing that is certain, however, is that if you’re having trouble with the flow of your business and currently don’t have a BI solution, then there’s great potential for a more effective and streamlined workplace with one.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the mounds of information that has to be collected, analyzed and shared amongst your team. And this is where business intelligence thrives. But back to the original question: is it worth it? To answer this question, we’ll break down the areas of a basic business infrastructure without BI and see how a BI software can drastically improve company operations.

Business intelligence.Data Collection in One Place

A workplace without any type of business intelligence is likely working with a few different softwares. Now, while this may work, it is likely more time consuming than it has to be and more scattered than it should be.

Multiple spreadsheets, softwares and networks can become a pain for employees and can certainly slow down the workflow. BI allows a company to gather all of this data in one central location for the convenience of the employees on every level. With all the time that would be saved with a new software, employees will have more opportunities to handle other tasks, which could possibly generate more revenue for the company.

Employee Training

For staff members who are in charge of data collection, having multiple sources for data can become a breeding ground for bottlenecking. With the assistance of a business intelligence software, these individuals have the opportunity to maximize production as the technology will help to lighten the workload.

Due to the high volume of one’s workload, it’s not uncommon to get delayed in reporting. If your team has multiple people assembling data and coordinating its distribution to the company’s decision makers, a BI investment can turn that segment of big data collection on its head by getting those reports to management faster.

When it comes to analyzing these inefficiencies in your company, another question has to be raised: are these setbacks actually costing my company? And more than just general revenue, these less-than-optimized operations can be costing your business opportunities and wasted time.

Statistics Proving Technology Works

And while these are hypothetical scenarios that are listed in this post, there is actually research that’s been conduct to show the return on investment for business analytics and intelligence tools. According to Nucleus Research, analytics and its payoff is huge.

“In analyzing ROI case studies on analytics, we found the average returns from analytics have been increasing, reaching $13.01 for every dollar spent in 2014 from just $10.66 in 2011.”

That’s 1300%! That’s pretty impressive — and worth the investment.

Fortunately, the transition to business intelligence doesn’t have to be a drastic one. Starting with the basic technology is a big step in itself that saves your company the trouble of finding a way to put all the most important big data in one location. Once you see the results yourself and the payoff starts to show in your actual bottom line, you can use what you’ve earned to invest in more technology to further improve your company.


4 Ways to Excite Your Employees About BI

The concept of business intelligence (BI) is extremely useful and practical for any type of business that desires to keep track of company information and make decisions based on statistics rather than instinct.

But, let’s face it — it’s also not unheard of for employees to be simply bored of the data that’s being collected. Especially if their position doesn’t deal with numbers or statistics on a regular basis, it can be a strain to keep your team engaged with your big data. Now, this doesn’t mean the data isn’t valuable, but naturally, employees may need a fresh perspective to look at the same information for them to be truly in tune with business operations.

In this post, we’ve taken the liberty to highlight a few pointers to help managers engage their employees and get them excited again with their big data.

Communicate with EmployeesDivide the Data Accordingly

Employees, like readers of news articles, want only the information that is relevant and interesting to them, their position’s duties or their clients. With the mounds of data that can be amassed with your BI software, it can become a pain to sift through all the information. Now, imagine each individual employee having to do this work and stay on top of their day-to-day tasks. Needless to say, it can be overwhelming.

Rather than subject them to this large amount of work, it works best to divide the big data into section that apply to each department or even team within departments. Rather than piling the workload on your employees, having team leaders or managers distribute only the relevant data gives them more face time with the information that will familiarizes them more with the data and give them the ability to only pass on the most pressing statistics.

Talk More about Your Data

A big help to not only team-build, but to also better understand your data, is creating a dialogue about the information that is gathered. With several types of information in different formats, it can be difficult to truly comprehend every layer of specific information that your BI solution is trying to tell you.

By discussing among team leaders and members, your company should have a fuller understanding of their individual duties, team goals and larger company objectives.This can even become a part of the workweek where employees look forward to breaking the monotony of the workplace and conversing about new strategies.

cartoon_meetingDevelop an Engagement Routine

Beyond individual team engagement, it can be an entire team-building meeting if multiple departments met on a regular basis to discuss your big data.

Questions should be raised and discussions should ensue to give your entire team a better understanding of the role of business intelligence and can even help those using the technology to search, print and analyze more important data.

Relate Data to Preferences & Affinity

One of the tough parts of making use of BI data is that it’s hard to put a face to the numbers. Using an affinity database helps give businesses a view of how their customers behave or how those with similar characteristics behave.

For those on the sales floor, they can use the BI software in conjunction with an affinity database to make wiser decisions when approaching a prospect or lead.

In sum, the power of business intelligence can be an extremely useful tool when your company is fully invested and engaged. By using these tips, your company should experience a more collaborative environment and more educated workforce will not only use your data more effectively, but also make better decisions for your organization’s future.

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4 Effective Practices for Data Visualization

What is the biggest pitfall in your business intelligence solution? For some, they’re lacking the proper technology to provide the big data that’s needed for their decision makers. For others, it’s the ease of use that’s required to maximize the capabilities of their BI technology.

Best case, you have no limitations in your technology and are simply scanning through this paragraph to see if one will be exposed.

Data VisualizationNonetheless, even if your BI solution is up to par, the display of the information can likely be optimized. Data visualization is a segment of business intelligence that cannot be underestimated or undervalued. Visualization is a loose term that encompasses the tools used to display information in the form of charts, graphs, histograms and diagrams.

It’s likely that your current technology has tools within the software where you can edit your visualization tools. In this post, we’ll break down the best practices for data visualization so you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your technology and that your higher-level employees have the best formatted information to make those tough business decisions.

Design for the Audience

As your company is made up of different departments, personalities, experience level and more, you should take into account these differences in your data visualization methods. Some people absorb information more visually, while others prefer text. Your BI software should allow you to display the same information in different formats to make this easier for your presentation.

It’s also as important to make sure that the information you’re emphasizing is clear and obvious in the visualization. Whether you’re sending data in an email or having a physical presentation showing important statistics, it’s crucial that the format is digestible, clear and informative in a way that’s easy on everyone’s eyes.

Focus on the Message

With several key points that your software is likely accumulating for you, it’s easy to get carried away with statistics and numbers that may not even be relevant to your core intent. Our advice is to stay the course and focus on the message that you want to highlight. Don’t stray away from that message unless it somehow relates back to the main point.

For instance, if you’re trying to use your data visualization tool to display sales over the last quarter, don’t jump to inventory statistics unless your growing inventory relates to how your sales have been rising in the last few weeks. Also, don’t be afraid to make several visualizations. You need not try to cram everything into one graph — use all the tools you have to your advantage!

Write KPIs on the Graphic

Key Performance Indicator KPI Evaluation Accounting ConceptEspecially when you’re presenting information to sales-minded employees or executives with little time on their hands, make sure that the most information is right there front and center. Depending on your BI tools, you should have the ability to write the key performance indicators (KPIs) on the graph itself and label important factors that may contribute to your overall presentation.

Whoever is receiving the information should be able to read the graphic without the need for further explanation — and any type of guidance that can add value to the graph serves as a great help.

Display the Data Accurately

There’s a fine-line between being thorough and being data-heavy. You don’t want to overload viewers with information, but you also don’t want to leave any important out. Ask yourself, “will people be able to understand the information if I were to take this point out?”

When making graphs, always be sure to be consistent with how you label them. For instance, starting an axis at 0 should always be done. Starting it at a different point can inflate the graph to make it look more impressive or more daunting (depending on the numbers). So, for consistency’s sake and to make it easier for viewers to digest your information, emphasize your display accuracy to make sure data visualization is efficient, thorough and precise.


Why Are BI Editors Necessary?

When you were a kid preparing for important standardized writing tests or maybe your SATs in high school, teachers often tried to drill certain strategies in your head to help boost your performance: read over the question twice, check your work, show proof, etc.

While the platform for which these techniques are implemented has ultimately shifted as you’ve transitioned into an adult, the usefulness of these tools remain the same. You still check twice or maybe even three or four times before you press SEND on your emails, don’t you?

In the business of big data, the importance of editing cannot be underestimated. Giving your big data science team a helpful hand in making sense of all your complicated, quantitative data can be a huge benefit to your company’s leadership and throughout your entire organization.

In this post, we’ll highlight the perks of having a qualified BI editor on staff.

Chief directs to his employeesTake Responsibility Away from Higher-Ups

Managers aren’t glorified crossing guards who simply point and direct traffic within your department. A major part of their responsibilities include planning for the short- and long-term while trying to optimize your current processes. And in the planning stages, editing is crucial to devise a plan that is not only sound, but also digestible. The role of a BI editor is to allow the managers who oversee data collection to continue doing their job while simplifying the message for other data scientists and managers.

Furthermore, managers sometimes take on this role by themselves and turn out to not be that effective in clarifying messages. This creates more backup and traffic within your company that takes away from everyone’s job duties.

The subject of big data analysis can be a tricky as there are several complex components that make it up. It’s likely that managers aren’t fully-equipped to discuss the minute details as they are prepared to discuss the overall strategy and business intentions.

Simplify Your Most Complex Data

BI editorProfessional and effective business intelligence editors have honed their skills in breaking down unfamiliar ideas into simpler terms. And this is a quality that’s desired in an industry full of intricate nuts and bolts.

When plans or projections have to be discussed among different departments, it’s desirable when a common language can be determined. BI editors should be able to bridge the gap between the numbers-minded data scientists and the forward-thinking, revenue-minded project planners.

Often times, higher-ups have the tendency to throw out blanket ideas without a full grasp of how to turn it into a reality. Before tasking data scientists with translation duties, a business intelligence editor can save time by turning those ideas into tangible sketches.

Smooth Out Overall Communication

Your BI editor should also be flexible among the different departments in your company. Between proposals, papers and projections, some of the best editors are able to even simplify complicated code. Programmers who are in charge of the technical background of your business intelligence solution can write code that’s more complicated than need be.

Dubbed refactoring, this tactic simplifies difficult-to-read code into a more digestible, fluid language that makes it easier for anyone who access the programming code. The BI editor’s need to comprehend analysis isn’t necessarily needed, as long as they can decipher what the programmer’s intent was and how to make the code actionable.

As many long-term marriages credit communication as the reason for their longevity, it serves a similar purpose in your business. Having a business editor to smooth out the dialogue between different departments can serve as a huge advantage by streamlining processes and developing a more unified company.


Predictive Analytics: What It Is & How it Works

One of the main reasons why any organization invests in business intelligence solutions is so that they can make well-informed decisions backed by real-time data and accurate analytics. Your technology should take into account the past and present measurements that you’ve collected to give you a proper forecast for the future — and this practice is called predictive analytics.

For a more technical definition, Webopedia defines predictive analytics as “the practice of extracting information from existing data sets in order to determine patterns and predict future outcomes and trends.” In the same way a hypothesis is an educated guess, predictive analytics uses a variety of statistical techniques including data mining, modeling and machine learning to provide users with a reasonable expectation.

Predictive AnalyticsIts Role in Business Intelligence

There’s past, present and the future. With most business leaders having their eyes set on the future, predictive analytics serves as the perfect set of tools to plan accordingly. Key factors of a company’s infrastructure and outside factors have to be taken into account so they can make these decisions. Sales, trends, seasonal highs and lows, consumer buying behavior and more help analysts shape their projections.

It’s important to note that while this strategy can be a great aid for businesses and their choices, predictive analytics is based in possibilities, not facts. For data scientists or BI specialists, this means they can guide businesses in the right direction based on the odds of what the future may hold. The combination of a qualified and experienced BI expert with the big data collected from various sources allow companies to act with confidence in projecting the future of their performance.

Benefits of Predictive Analytics

A common example to explain the concept behind predictive analytics is homeowners and their mortgages. Mortgage lenders take into account factors like a resident’s recent payment history, credit, their buying or selling of other assets and more to plan for the next quarter of business.

These factors, likely given to decision-makers by BI analysts, allow them to devise a plan as to how they will use their capital. Perhaps more spending should be done on the promotional front, maybe the lender should disperse less money overall to prepare for foreclosures or loan defaults.

For organizations, this allows them to limit or contain the risk of the uncertainty that comes with running a business.

Software from organizations like SAP® “gives companies better insights in real time to increase understanding of customer behavior and improve response to customers and delivers tangible business value — ultimately driving profitability for organizations.”

Business AnalyticsReal Value

And that’s the major question most decision-makers will have: what’s the real value of this technology? Where’s the tangible effect that I can expect if I invest in this?

Remember, having data alone doesn’t mean anything. Many companies fail to realize that the true power in business intelligence goes beyond data collection. The power is in being able to successfully manage and store your data, being able to display it in a visually attractive manner, and more importantly, being able to use that data to make better decisions for the company’s future.

Predictive analytics is the portion of business intelligence that enables you to turn your data collection efforts into real results, if implemented correctly. For more information on how to select the right tools for your business intelligence or how to maximize the use of predictive analytics in your organization, contact one of our team members today to schedule an appointment!


What Does “BI Solution” Really Mean?

Have you ever been having a conversation with a consultant, but were unaware of the buzzwords that kept being brought up? Often times in the business intelligence industry, this is the case. However, we understand that an informed consumer is the best kind of customer and we would rather you have a firm understanding of your potential BI options than to be overwhelmed by keywords.

That’s why in this post we’re going to break down the popular terms that are frequented in BI circles. These terms are the ones that are more broadly considered BI solutions.

BI Solution“Products”

In the BI community, the term product is arguably the most generic. It can refer to many things outside of a business intelligence context, but within its context, the definition is quite simple.

If you find yourself shopping for a tool to use to enhance the way your company gathers, tracks, displays and analyzes your data, you’ll find products on the sales floor that are dedicated to helping you accomplish your mission. While you may have found an answer to your professional need, you will likely need a professional BI consultant to help you integrate and implement the new product into your existing system.

“Solution Accelerators”

Solution accelerators are also known as blueprints. They are likely a collection of tools that have been used on prior projects. Project tools like data connectors, transformation logic, metrics, data models and dashboards are prime examples of a solution accelerator.

Instead of starting a project from the very beginning, these tools (for a lack of a better term) accelerate the overall process of using business intelligence to your full potential.


The architecture of a BI system deals with the framework that organizes the data. Its role is crucial because it affects development and the decisions made in implementation. It includes data sources that users need to analyze their statistical information.

Depending on who you ask, structured or unstructured data is included in the makeup of BI architecture. This overall framework is customizable and can include applications like reporting, data mining, data visualization tools and more.

Before You Commit…

When you’re on the market searching for a new product, it’s super important to do your research beforehand so you’re not perplexed when the time comes to choose your BI solution. Knowing the difference between these keywords not only saves you time in the purchasing process, but it also gets you closer to understanding which solution will truly meet your company’s needs.

Whether you already know what you’re looking for or if you need guidance in making the right decision, feel free to contact one of our representatives. We’ll gladly assist you in clearing up any confusion you may have with understanding business intelligence and any of its tools.