After working on BI and data analytics for 9 years now, one thing I have seen in common is that most companies have purchased one or more (mostly on more side) data visualization and analytical tools. However, Interestingly, they don’t use any!! I have come across a company which has licenses for more than 4 BI products and they still use Excel for their day today reporting. I believe this is a common scenario in some companies and wanted to share my thoughts on this.
No, Just a tool you won’t help you. You need a central data repository.
Doesn’t matter what tool you have; you need to have all your up to date data processed and cleaned so that you know that you can trust the data you have. It could be a relational data warehouse or a data lake. As far as you know that your data in that central repository is cleaned and tested for accuracy, you don’t need to worry about anything else. This process can either be called as data modelling or data warehousing. Modelling data using a BI tool can be easy for small set of data, but it becomes harder when you want to integrate more data sources and complex calculations. Therefore, don’t purchase a tool if it doesn’t support data modelling in enterprise scale.
Think about your data, not demo data.
When someone sell you any tool, they surely show you reports which load instantly and they will assure you that it will be the case with your data as well. Performance mainly depend on the volume of data as well as complexity of the data you have. Nowadays, most tools support in-memory technology so that users can read data fast and even perform complex calculation faster compare to disk-based data management systems. However, in- memory based tools have limitations when it comes to the size of the data volume. Ether they don’t support large data volume, or you must pay extra for more memory. Check whether your tool can cater your data needs.
Devil is always in detail.
Sometimes it looks very simple to you when they do a demo. Just few clicks, drag and drops, here we go, it’s done. Fancy looking dashboard in-front of you. But when it comes to actual implementation, creating actual business reports and dashboard might not be simple as it seems. Therefore, pay you attention to details when it comes to selecting a BI tool. Check whether the tool support all your requirements such as Dashboards, Paginated Reports, Drill down, Drill through, Real Time reporting, Exportation/Sharing and much more must have features.
Business intelligence is not a tool.
I kept the most important point to the last. Well, that is simply it. You need a process, not a tool only. Salespeople who comes to your organisation will show you lot of fancy demos and it is known that all those tools available on market have lots of fancy and wow features. Obviously, you will fall for it. But remember a single tool will not bring a data governess process to your organisation. It will only bring you a data modelling and visualization part. To bring business intelligence to your company you will need set of tools and most importantly, set of processes. Which means your organisation must adhere to agreed data templates, business logic, time periods to dump and extract data and what not. I believe that a company should focus on end to end solution when it comes to data analytics and BI rather than focus on all the fancy tools such as Power BI, Tableau, QlikView etc. These tools are only a part of bigger picture.
When selecting a tool, there are lot of things you have to think of. However, this is blog post is not to cover all of those, but to give you some idea about what you have to focus on. Thanks for reading. Cheers!!!