Tag: BI solutions

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In this post, we’ll evaluate your options once your business intelligence solution becomes no longer valid.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


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.


3 Competitive Advantages of BI

Running a successful business entails more than maintaining sales, providing consistent service and staying the course. If your company’s leadership is determined to maximize progress, then your eyes are likely constantly set towards the future. And part of having an informed foresight has to do with understanding your past and current economics.

As many businesses were once doing this with spreadsheets or Excel documents, the times have changed to allow for an easier method of collecting data — using business intelligence (BI) solutions. These solutions transform the raw data that’s collected into useful information that is then used to make high-quality business decisions.

Monitor company-wide statisticsDepending on your market, the use of a BI solution can give you the slight advantage over your competitors that offer similar services or products. In this post, we’ll highlight the ways in which implementing a business intelligence system within your company’s infrastructure can revolutionize your standing in your industry and serve as a competitive advantage.

Company-wide Finances Made Simpler

According to projections from Gartner’s researchers, 3 out of 4 companies worldwide will place major responsibility on business intelligence by the year 2020. And as BI has grown into a $16 billion a year industry, its importance is showing no signs of stopping. If you’re considering making the jump from filling out spreadsheets manually or relying on the dated technology that is Microsoft Excel, investing in a long-term solution may be your best bet for your company’s evolution.

One of the main areas where BI can aid your organization is the ability to see your corporate finances. As your company grows in size, revenue and influence, so should your data collection efforts. Keeping track of physical paperwork or basic documents on your computer may do the trick, but for a better scope of your current finances and to be able to make effective projections, it’s highly recommended that you consider using a business intelligence solution instead.

Planning for the future is just good business — and business intelligence allows you to plan with more confidence and with a simpler display of complicated information. Condensing the intricacies of your data in a simplified, intuitive display also allows you to save much time that can be used in other areas of your company.

Cut Wasteful Spending

With a wider view of your company’s statistics, BI also gives you the opportunity to locate areas of waste. In the same way trainers aim to help their clients trim the fat, your BI tools should be able to help you identify areas of waste so you can save your dollars for a more important task.

Cut wasteful spendingA major part of maximizing your revenue potential involves eliminating your waste — and this goes for both financial numbers and the time spent in making choices, devising plans and analyzing the past and present. By trimming the fat of your organization, you’ll have the ability to strengthen your company’s core and run a more efficient team with faster, better decisions at the forefront.


Quicker & Smarter Decision Making

Moving towards the future requires a game plan. Whether it’s short-term goals that must be reached by the end of the quarter or if it’s long-term strategies that must be met at the end of the year, help from business intelligence can go a long way.

Being able to view your company’s data in a well-displayed, easily-readable format gives you the flexibility to make decisions with far more confidence than if you were simply looking at your old school spreadsheets.

Time is money. And you don’t want to waste either. With that said, implementing a business intelligence tool or software will lead the way to faster decisions and more informed choices that will allow your management team to maximize profits, while cutting costs and gaining a fuller understanding of the complex financial dynamics that make up your organization.


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.