Are these applications really needed?
Business intelligence tools are a type of application software designed to retrieve, analyze and report data for business intelligence. To stay competitive, you need to make decisions fast — and base them on the right information.
Many investments have fallen short of expectations by not effectively turning data into actionable information. In addition, countless organizations have delayed enterprise-wide BI projects altogether due to poor planning, design, implementation and maintenance.
The common solutions implemented by large businesses
Large companies have various tools at their disposal. These tools are sold as standalone tools, suites of tools, components of ERP systems, or as components of software targeted to a specific industry. The tools are sometimes packaged into data warehouse appliances. Of course the price tag for most of these solutions are prohibitive for small to midsize businesses, furthermore the complexity of the system itself will require trained staff to configure, maintain and operate the software. Moreover, even if such staff exists, oftentimes the simple fact of complicated user interfaces makes the usability of large ERP systems for the end user impractical. This is why in many companies - including large ones (read our price reduction case study here) – the actual business decision makers revert back to utilizing excel spreadsheets etc. as their primary business decision making tool.
Complexity renders most systems ineffective in the hands of the end users
We claim that business intelligence applications lose their
intelligence as soon as they become too complex for the end-user to use. This is why we make sure that every application we build is as intuitive to use as possible. To borrow a known marketing term,
It’s so easy even a caveman can do it.
We build all of our applications in a modular way which means that every functionality is going to be a self-contained piece of software. The main advantage is that we have the easy ability to create custom user-interfaces for various user groups within your company and their specific needs. This way, we can limit the complexity of the user interface without narrowing the scope of functionality of the software package.
Business Intelligence Applications have to be significantly more than just report generators
When we talk about BI applications we are not talking about dashboard software that ties in with existing applications or data warehouses to visualize data – for that there are numerous off-the-shelf solutions available. We approach BI application development in a very narrow context of defining a process that needs to be improved and providing the customer with all the infrastructure required to accomplish that task. The case studies section has a few specific examples of how we achieve this.
Most knowledge workers in your organization will not build their own reports, so you must provide these people with an appropriate way to gain access to the information in the data warehouse. This is the primary role of BI applications. Think about the implications of this statement: For the majority of business users, the BI applications are the only view of the DW/BI system they will have. If the applications are confusing, perform poorly, are unappealing or inaccurate, they will taint the entire DW/BI system.
Our team strives to meet the demanding list of design requirements from both the user as well as the system, including:
- BI applications must be correct and must provide accurate audit reports and document differences compared to other systems.
- Perform well with response times of less than five seconds for the average query.
- Be easy to use where getting customized results with less than ten mouse clicks is a good goal.
- Look good. Tools and reports have to be clear and attractive.
- Applications have to be a long-term investment with clear documentation, well maintained, enhanced, and extended.