It looks like 2016 is going to be a big year for business intelligence (BI), but how do you know what BI software is right for your company? Sifting through specs may help, but with such a broad field, you’ll need other tools for narrowing your options.
Instead of diving right in without a direction, start by considering these 4 factors. By outlining the needs of your company first, you’ll be able to eliminate a large market segment and focus on the options that will help you meet your business goals.
As many companies are realizing, the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing what customers expect when it comes to security. This is especially important when it comes to handling sensitive client data.
First, does your industry have rules about data security that your company is bound to, such as specific encryption requirements? If so, you can eliminate any software that doesn’t meet those needs. Depending on the field, this may force you to narrow your search to BI software designed specifically for your industry.
Second, even if there aren’t industry guidelines for your software, what security concerns does your individual company have? What worries have clients expressed? You’ll want software that makes clients feel reassured about your practices and that can help your company define itself as a leader in proactive data management.
Does your company work with a software firm that makes BI software in addition to other programs you already use? Programs made by the same company are more likely to be compatible with each other, so if you’re happy with the other software services you receive, consider extending your partnership with the same company.
If you don’t have this option, look into software that you know will be compatible with other programs you already use. Too many companies skip the research and assume that popular programs will be compatible with their current practices. You won’t use your new BI software if it’s excessively labor intensive to transfer information or sync it with other important programs that you use. You might as well keep employing coders to write SQL solutions if you choose an inconvenient software.
Read Reviews And Rankings
Once you’ve narrowed your software choices to a few top contenders, you’ll want to read online reviews. Find out what other users say about the program, what things are still glitchy, and what others think of the customer service. If you need help, will you have support?
In addition to reviews, you can also read online rankings of BI products. These rankings can give you an overall sense of how programs compare to others in their field. Make sure you read about the ranking criteria and how the standings are calculated, as well as whether those rankings factor in any recent program upgrades.
State Your Problems
In the broadest sense, you want BI software that can crunch numbers, predict industry trends, and spot service gaps for your business to fill, but are there also specific goals that you want the program to fulfill? Clearly define what your business problems are and then use that as a test for your leading contenders. You may be able to eliminate a few that can’t promise to solve your particular problems.
Be sure to define your problem properly within the scope of BI. Because the field is still growing, some companies see BI as an all-reaching solution – the power of data to do anything, as it were. But BI can’t implement solutions; it can only suggest them. You may also need to hire support staff with credentials in the area of program management.
By moving through each of these steps, your company will be able to establish a short list of BI software options that are right for your business. From there, inquire about trial programs, talk to different departments, and seek a consensus about what program is best. Then, give it time. BI is an investment and data takes the long view on success.