What Makes Business Intelligence Software Truly Useful?


Business intelligence software is the next big thing in business. Take BI cloud software as an example. Adoption reached 43% in 2016, and this number is only going to continue to rise.

The problem is that business intelligence software can sometimes cause more problems than it should. When it’s not implemented correctly, or you choose the wrong type of software, it can lead to disaster.

We’re going to investigate the hallmarks of what makes business intelligence software truly useful.

Is the Dashboard Simple?

All business intelligence software will have a central dashboard. It needs to be simple to manage otherwise the returns you get from the software will be canceled out by the extra people you have to pay to keep it moving.

A small business can’t gain much from a piece of business intelligence software because they often choose the option that requires a trained professional to use.

There are better-suited options for the novice, where the dashboard is simple and all the major functions can be learned in a few hours.

Are You Getting the Right Insights?

One particular issue for retail businesses is they’re using business intelligence software and not getting the right insights from it. You need to know what questions to ask to maximize your returns from this type of software.

Which data points are truly valuable to your business?

Unfortunately, the data visualization tools provided are rarely geared towards retail. That means you have to look at the data with a more critical eye so you can deduce what’s important and what you can ignore.

Managing Dashboard Updates the Right Way

Business intelligence software isn’t a real-time feed into all the data that’s available in the world. It happens at different intervals.

This is a big problem with larger businesses that run different departments. If the accounting department provides monthly insights and the sales department offers weekly insights you may quickly find that you only have half of the equation.

You need to make sure all data is on the same wavelength.

Plus if you have different intervals the snapshot of your business can be completely confused.

Let’s look at an example of this:

Company A is using business intelligence software to aggregate data and come to conclusions about the matters that are most relevant to them. Their sales department provides data on their income every week. The expenses, however, aren’t reported until the end of the month.

So now Company A has lots of extra revenue, on paper, because expenses haven’t been deducted yet. It can confuse the insights Company A is getting.

This is an extremely simplistic example. But imagine when that is repeated over and over again for different departments.

That’s why you need to gear your entire company towards the business intelligence software.

Are You Spending Too Much Time on Your Dashboard?

Business intelligence software can get complicated quickly. This is why we mentioned that the most popular pieces of business intelligence software are simple. These software manufacturers understand that most businesses can’t employ entire teams dedicated to using their software.

Any good business has to calculate how much time they’re spending on their software. Then they have to compare how much time they’re losing on making sales and making profits.

The hallmark of any good software is to reduce the amount of time it takes to answer the key questions a business is likely to have.

It should grow a business without reducing how efficient it is.

Is Data Easy to Present?

On the subject of time, you need to consider how quickly you can take that data out of the software and make a decision that drives your company forward.

Every type of software will have a different method of data visualization. Some will be simple and some will be complex.

A bad choice for business intelligence software is one where you have to convert that data into something you can present to your decision-making team. It should be easily downloaded out of the system.

Every minute lost is a dollar lost.

Is it Industry Specific?

We mentioned earlier that a lot of business intelligence software isn’t geared towards the retail industry. That’s steadily changing as software makers realize the opportunity they’re missing out on.

You need to maximize your gains from using this software, so you should always be willing to spend more on a version that’s specific to your industry.

These options are designed to answer the most common questions businesses in a specific industry has. They’ll also prioritize the data that matters most to these companies.

Does it Have a Unified Data Source?

Here’s one statistic that should give you food for thought: 55% of companies admit that they struggle with making decisions based on data because they don’t know what data to collect.

And that’s because many business intelligence software options require you to input data from different sources. Modern business intelligence software is more than capable of taking data from practically anywhere and crunching it all together into a single dashboard.

That also includes data that’s coming from any Excel spreadsheets you have lying around on your computer.

A unified data source will save you time and ensure you have all the right data. Too many companies spend a lot of time arguing about which data they should collect and where they should get it from.

Last Word – Choosing the Right Business Intelligence Software for You

It’s a critical choice you have to make. Look to the business intelligence software options within your chosen industry first and test some of them out.

What you’re looking for is simplicity in the dashboard and simplicity in presenting data. The data inputted into the software should all revolve around a unified data source. That will save you a lot of wasted hours.

But the answer is to make sure you’re asking the software the right questions. Ultimately, if you don’t know what you’re looking for this is no silver bullet.

What do you want to get out of your business intelligence software?