How to choose the best business intelligence software: custom or ready-made solution
Business intelligence is no joke. Business intelligence is the extraction and processing of huge amounts of data from a chaotic ocean of information, perfected through sweat, blood and tears. Today we will talk strictly and seriously.
Using the most advanced analytical reporting technologies allows specialists to significantly simplify labor-intensive and routine tasks. Starting with corporate reporting at the level of the whole company and ending with personal analytics at the level of an ordinary employee or department, a good digital solution will always help to achieve a better result, make work faster and spend incomparably less resources on it.
Company owners are aware of a whole galaxy of such solutions advantages, which explains their popularity. The software market for business intelligence is truly huge and its growth, according to experts, will continue to increase in the near future. As mentioned by specialists from A to Z Research, the global business intelligence market in 2015 amounted to $ 16.33 billion and is expected to reach $ 26.50 billion by 2021, an increase of an average of 8.4% since 2016 to 2021.
Therefore, this phenomenon is worthy of attention. Today we will take a closer look at the software for business intelligence and its variants, and let’s start with the definition.
Business intelligence software (BI) is a type of software used to convert and visualize data into operational information that affects the adoption of strategic and tactical business decisions in companies. Business intelligence tools provide access and analysis of data sets and present analytical data in reports, dashboards, summaries, graphs, charts, and maps to provide users with detailed information about the state of the business.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) classification, the market for business intelligence applications can be divided into the following categories:
- platform solutions for creating and managing data warehouses (data warehouse platforms, DW-platforms);
- performance management software and analytic applications;
- BI tools.
Let's take a closer look.
DW platforms (data warehouse platforms) are used to organize data coming from several applications according to the topics relevant to a particular business, in order to inform decision makers. The data warehouse platform software includes data warehouse generation (DWG) and data warehouse management (DWM) tools. DWGs are software tools used in designing, cleaning, converting, loading and administering repositories. DWM - used to manage data in the warehouse. The strongest players in this sector are Oracle, Microsoft and IBM.
These are applications that serve to support business processes and are characterized by the following features:
- structure and automate tasks related to optimization, control and review of business operations, or serve to identify opportunities for the development of a new business;
- can function independently of the main transactional applications of the organization or exchange data with them;
- support the analysis of temporary trends (analyze trends in the past and make predictions for the future).
Examples of vendors and products in this area: Avaya - Avaya Analytics, Oracle - Sales Analytics, SPSS (part of IBM) - Predictive Web Analytics.
Performance management software
Performance management software is used to plan performance, collect performance data, track performance, track resources, and compile related status reports.
Examples of vendors and products: BMC - Performance Manager, MQSoftware MAINVIEW; CA - Spectrum, Wily; Compuware - Strobe, iStrobe, Vantage, Gomez; HP - Performance Manager, SiteScope; IBM - Tivoli OMEGAMON, IBM Tivoli Monitor, IT / CAM.
This category can be divided into several sub-categories.
End-user query, reporting and analysis tools including ad-hoc query generation tools, multivariate analysis tools, as well as dashboards and production reporting tools.
Advanced analytics software includes data mining and statistical data analysis software. It uses a variety of technologies to discover relationships in data that are too complex to retrieve using standard query tools. This segment also includes technical, econometric, and other specialized software that uses a data analysis statistics machine.
Content analysis tools - applications of this class provide an opportunity to explore the content by identifying numerical patterns and their interpretation. The analysis of the determined characteristics allows us to draw conclusions regarding the intentions of the content creator or the possible reaction of the addressee, to reveal facts and trends reflected in documents, to study documents in their social context. Content analysis can be used to study the effectiveness of advertising, analyze the political orientation of documents, classify answers to questionnaires, etc.
Analytical applications for managing spatial information are programs that allow you to analyze data in conjunction with GIS systems. The toolkit provides an opportunity to answer questions such as “In which cities do we have the most active partners?”, “In which regions do we have the largest total sales?”, “In which areas are the biggest traffic jams now, and how will they change by such a time ?” by providing a map-based visualization tool.
Financial performance and strategy management applications are cross-industrial applications the main purpose of which is the measurement, analysis and optimization of financial indicators, process management based on the use of application packages for budgeting, financial consolidation, etc.
It should be noted that business intelligence software taxonomy cannot be reconciled once and for all. Technologies in the field of business analytics are changing quite quickly - and the set of terms is changing accordingly. Pay attention to how the most popular solutions for business intelligence over the past 45 years have changed.
What to look for when choosing software for business intelligence
Integration options should be at the center of your decision-making process. BI performance depends heavily on transferring the heterogeneous data that is currently hosted on multiple systems to the new business intelligence tool.
Be sure to find solutions that allow the APIs to collect data in real time. Using the latest information is much more effective than viewing outdated data, at least for one day. You will need the ability to automatically update data, which will allow you to configure and set the publication schedule for the dashboard.
Ease of use
Ease of use is a strong indicator of how quickly and systematically a new solution will be implemented in your organization, which will determine your ROI. Drag and drop interfaces are understandable to users and provide an easy way to connect to data located both indoors and in the cloud.
Customizing dashboards to meet specific requirements is also crucial. Look for tools that make it easy to customize your various dashboard needs.
Custom solutions vs out-of-the-box business intelligence software
While choosing a solution for business intelligence, one way or another, you will encounter a dilemma - to develop your own custom solution or limit yourself to existing tools. The eternal opposition of custom solutions and programs for widespread use affects all industries and business intelligence is no exception. The reasons are the same as always: with all the variety of tools and solutions, it is impossible to please everyone and satisfy the needs of absolutely every company. Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of custom and turn-key solutions in the field of business intelligence in an attempt to find out which option is preferable.
Custom Business Intelligence Software
- By definition, custom software for business intelligence is designed to solve unique problems in a specific situation. It is designed specifically for your unique circumstances and, if done correctly, provides an almost perfect solution to your problem.
- Custom business intelligence software can be easily modified and expanded, keeping up with your business, as well as technology and changes over the years.
- Custom business intelligence software also offers a competitive advantage. This is what competitors do not have, what they lack, and if it is well thought out, you will soon see that you have bypassed them.
Ready-made business intelligence software
- Good news, everyone - ready-made business intelligence software is designed for quick installation and use. However, you should remember that such a solution probably needs to be configured individually and may not be compatible with your current systems, which eliminates the advantage in speed.
- The serial nature of off-the-shelf business intelligence software leads to the low initial cost of most off-the-shelf solutions. It should be remembered that initially these solutions can be cheap to buy, but over time they can cost you much more due to their inefficiency and any ongoing maintenance and subscription costs (for example, SaaS). At the same time, the cost of subscription depends on the number of people using such software, and with a large number of subscribers, the price of solutions will also be high.
The main pain in choosing a turnkey solution is that it may not meet all the requirements of your business. Out-of-the-box business intelligence software may cost a little less than a custom solution, but if it is half or less efficient, you will soon lose all the money you originally saved. Also, off-the-shelf software often encounters compatibility issues. It is very likely that the operating systems, devices, or other software of your enterprise will conflict with the package solution at a basic level, which will make it either unusable or incredibly inefficient.
It is better to fully unlock the potential of software for business intelligence and implement the functionality necessary for the enterprise with the help of custom solutions. Also, do not forget that business intelligence is not the only thing to pay special attention to. Read more about this in our article Business innovations: what should we expect in 2020.