Category Archives: True Self-Service BI

BI Development Still Ongoing

The march of progress is present in the types of business intelligence software deployed in workplaces around the world. This makes sense: Companies today define themselves by their IT footprints, and BI remains relevant no matter the industry or subject matter. Therefore, it's natural that analytics programs will receive close attention and a selection of great features. Organizations are filling their decision-making processes with an infusion of data, a move that seems to have made it impossible to go back to making choices via intuition – after all, if rival companies have a direct line to their data, firms without such access could be in trouble.

The Current Wave and the Next
There are many different trends flowing through the BI ecosystem at any time. Its evolution is not a one-sided process, nor is it one that can be completed all at once. IT Business Edge contacted one of its industry partners to determine where the feature development timeline is now and where it will be later in 2015. The source noted 2014 had its own share of futuristic upgrades, focusing on granting capabilities such as mobile BI access and the use of big data sets instead of the structured groupings that have traditionally held that role. Of course, time's march has made those elements a part of the milieu and brought a new crop to the fore.

As for the year at hand, the content displayed on dashboards may be set to shift. IT Business Edge reported that specialization and simplicity are on tap in the way data is displayed visually. Dashboards present representations of abstract numbers that make them immediately accessible and useful for the employees who need to act on the conveyed information. The source noted that any sort of general dashboard containing every metric needed by anyone in the company will be too complex, bordering on unreadable. A series of dashboards that each target a specific role can give better insights.

The Future is Here
While customized and well-designed dashboards are being presented as this year's new trend, they have already arrived. Necto 14, for instance, allows its users to see only the facts that impact them directly. This means that CEOs and other top officials can have the zoomed-out view that allows them to act in the interest of many departments at once, while highly specialized workers delve into their own verticals with drill-down metrics to make snap decisions accurately. This sort of personalized experience is part of the bedrock that supports true self-service BI.

Self-service BI a Natural Next Step for Some Businesses

Leaders within certain industries are pushing for new business intelligence features. Generally, these are expansions to the general concept of BI, whereas traditional BI represents the great idea of improving decisions through data but is constrained by its functional limitations. Older BI systems were functionally complicated, requiring dedicated IT professionals to parse the data on their powerful desktop PCs. These problems have been swept away by developments such as apps that can be used on mobile devices and the concept of self-service BI, simple interfaces that work in many departments. This latter trend has the potential to change the whole process of using analytics.

Organizations take the plunge
A recent CloudTweaks piece assessed which types of businesses are best suited for a self-service makeover. The source asserted that there is room for an upgrade in both large and small companies. While SMBs may be considered a more natural fit for this technology – because they generally don't have data scientists on staff and can benefit from simple BI interfaces – large organizations can also see improvement. According to CloudTweaks, there is room to reassemble a whole company culture around analysis. This is a way to boost the performance of every role from the C-level on down through a dose of data.

The actual granular benefits of BI are linked with its streamlining of age-old BI advantages. The source explained that a long process of communication between line-of-business pros and their IT department contacts can be completely eliminated when users each have their own BI software. The IT workers are free to get back to innovating and the company can move forward with its decisions, confident that they are fueled by fresh data and accurate analysis of those numbers. CloudTweaks cited more efficient operations without a correlated amount of time put in by the most tech-savvy employees.

Time to upgrade?
One of the most exciting facets of self-service BI is that it has already arrived. The futuristic capabilities built into these software solutions are available now through programs such as Necto 14. Throughout corporate structures, employees can view dashboards that directly address problems they are really facing rather than digging through reports meant only for expert eyes. Those same IT pros, freed from their duty of serving insights to the rest of the company, can press forward with the next stage of the organization's technological development. With everyone more productive, firms as a whole can improve their standing within their individual industries.

Business intelligence basics for 2015

Business intelligence is a technology with an unbeatable premise – better decisions. This is applicable to just about every area of corporate operations, in a vast number of industries. If there is data on a topic, companies can sharpen their response to related operations, and as of today, there is information pouring in on just about everything. Organizational leaders can commit a reasonable amount of resources to gaining an advantage over their closest rivals. Winning such a battle can represent the difference between financial success and failure in today's intense and close market battles that have extended to international competition via the Internet.

Today's competencies
Creating a BI project today means getting down to the basic concepts behind the technology, ideas that can be obscured by years of hype and experimentation. A recent piece by Forbes contributor Suhas Sreedhar pointed out these underlying concepts, the ones that animate analytics. He explained that one of the most important points of BI development is making the tools accessible to a wide selection of employees. This may be lost in the shuffle as organizations prioritize bigger and more impressive collections of data. Implementers who focus too hard on the quest to work with more resources may end up with a theoretically great system usable by no one.

Sreedhar relayed advice from IT Business Edge, explaining that theoretically sound BI projects can fail if no users can get a handle on their applications. In an environment where just about every department of a company has some kind of analytics it could be performing, cutting these professionals off is one way to weaken the relevance of a solution. Sreedhar noted that there is something to be said for spending a little on a system that will fit into an existing workflow. The opposite, breaking the bank and buying a solution no one can understand, is pointless.

Self-service BI thrives
The use of self-service solutions is the antithesis of the top-heavy model that suggests processing power is all that counts. Applications such as Necto 14 embrace true self-service BI as a mission statement and include dashboards that can be customized to suit the unique preferences of departments throughout the company. This way, employees from CEOs on down can see the data points they are used to and need to know about, rather than dealing with a stream of raw numbers or figures more relevant to some other section of the organization. This way of looking at BI can save companies from investing in tools that don't help them.

Marketers set to become BI leaders in 2015

The use of business intelligence is a broader area of organizational focus now than ever before. While these systems were once confined to a few experts, every generation has brought them closer to their destiny as easy-to-use tech solutions. The story of BI is the same as that of every other system that started in an exclusive silo and ended up on every desk. Prices and ease of use are becoming more forgiving and companies are realizing that the outdated model employees must use to file BI jobs with experienced workers dedicated to the task is inefficient. End users are calling for BI access and the tools are there to accommodate them.

The rise of marketing
Forbes contributor Prakash Nanduri recently sketched his view of BI in 2015, and the predictions include the furthering of several trends that are emergent today. For instance, Nanduri suggested that BI will go well beyond the IT department in the year ahead, with other departments making their own purchases. He offered two choices to IT leaders in the face of this demand: They can either make peace with the non-tech users and work toward common goals, or they can lose control of the ecosystem and be left behind. Today's employees are goal-driven – when they see an opportunity to improve their workflow, they take it.

Marketing is a department on the rise at companies all over the world. Nanduri stated that these sections are driving the expansion of their respective companies, a new status that means marketers have a hand in tech adoption. The author reported there are new possibilities unlocked by the presence of BI. Marketers are intensely interested in being guided by the facts gathered from inside and outside their organizations, as this means the end of intuition as a leadership tool. Firms guided by data will have a real-world view of their circumstances, one that could elude other organizations.

Time for self-service
Nanduri's insistence that self-service features are a pressing trend raises an issue for firms selecting BI software. They need this advanced feature now. Fortunately, solutions such as Necto 14 are ready to meet such requirements. The software is built to accommodate the needs of many different professionals, offering dashboards that show just what the users need to know. CEOs will have very different ideal views than marketers, but each can rest easy knowing he or she does not have to face down pages of menus or raw data to learn pertinent details. No matter which department is in the driver's seat, self-service BI features help them lead the way.

Business intelligence set to revolutionize real estate

There are many different fields that can benefit from an infusion of business intelligence and analytics technology, and thinking about the software's purpose highlights why this might be. Namely, BI is designed to improve decisions, and there is no company in the world that couldn't do with some surety and direction when it comes to determining a wise course of action. This is probably the fact that has kept BI in the headlines for the past few years as new features have debuted and the technology has rolled out across an increasing number of important and influential verticals, even those that aren't usually early adopters of IT breakthroughs.

The real effects on real estate
A recent Globe St. interview with IT field insider Justin Alanis indicated that there is a certain urgency surrounding real estate firms' adoption of analytics. Without this software, Alanis warned, companies could find themselves behind the curve and unable to keep up with rivals that went ahead and made the investment. The actual use of the BI software will not be limited to a few professional roles, either. Alanis told the source that adoption will be widespread, with professionals throughout the corporate structure each taking on some functions, differentiated by role.

Some individuals will be more interested in granular information and others will take the log view. Alanis explained that this will depend on the role. A company's CEO will want to understand where that firm stands in all its markets at that moment. The individuals responsible for certain territories will be more interested in any information that directly impacts them. Alanis noted this division of roles becomes much easier if there is a dashboard for every individual. He advised that this method ensures there are no key variables missing, which may happen if project managers decide to only create one dashboard that suits everyone.

Serving themselves
This differentiated approach to BI usability is a classic self-service example. Every employee is presented with a series of visual tools that suits his or her unique perspective and needs, clearing away the need for an antiquated model in which a few IT workers were the arbiters of all BI processes, trying to split their time between all the many requests coming in. Products such as Necto 14 are critical in these situations, giving leaders the tools they need to set every worker up with access to ideal dashboards. Whether selling properties or anything else, BI can help teams determine if their tactics are on-point.

Business intelligence is now present throughout company structures

It may be time for leaders without business intelligence solutions in place to question what is preventing them from making the jump. The idea has been around for decades and received several amendments in recent years – the addition of everything from big data compatibility to mobile access. Equipped with these newly powerful solutions, companies can answer their pressing performance questions and potentially outmaneuver the other members of their industries. In fact, firms that do not become adopters soon could find that their rivals have made the jump and end up behind, still making choices through the intuition of a few leaders rather than data.

Everyone's a data user
According to Enterprise Apps Today, BI is not just expanding to new companies, it is reaching all levels within businesses. This means that the dream of self-service BI is coming to pass. The source noted that research in early 2013 found that there was little penetration of BI into departments outside of a select few IT users, but that has changed. The new source comes from BARC, and Enterprise Apps Today explained that this latest survey detected 55 percent of respondents are now self-service BI users and 24 percent are on their way. Reaching more than half of employees is a tipping point.

The further self-service concepts go in business, the better the results can be. After all, having just a few employees perform their own analytics relieves a little pressure from IT departments. Having them all doing so is a natural progression, one that can transform a company. Enterprise Apps Today explained that one way to make this change possible is to ramp up the amount of visual dashboards on offer. Moving BI beyond the subject matter experts is easier when the tools are easy to use and read, providing a glimpse of trends and patterns that is comprehensible by any properly prepared user.

Time to shift
The idea that users not employing trends such as self-service are behind the curve may be worrying for those individuals. Thankfully, there are a few simple products that can resolve the situation and deliver many advanced capabilities at once. These are the tools such as Necto 14, which has been developed to both include custom views for employees in different departments and present those dashboards on a variety of screen types to ensure there is as little delay as possible between discovering a question in need of answering and getting a data-informed insight that will help resolve it.

Business intelligence a customer service boon for sports teams

Stories about analytics use in professional sports could reasonably be expected to tackle the "Moneyball" model – that is, winning on the field with better use of data. However, as TechTarget recently pointed out, some of these organizations are taking up the torch in business operations and using BI solutions to become more cognizant of, for example, what their customers want.

There is really nothing surprising about companies employing analytics for operations outside of their unique, defining elements. For instance, while hospitals can sometimes use big data to better treat their patients, they can just about always extract value from applying these systems to financial processing and customer outreach, elements common to all sorts of organizations.

Off the field
As MIT lecturer Ben Shields told the news source, BI can help sporting organizations wrangle their formidable back-office operations. When thought of as highly visible organizations with international name recognition and millions of dollars flowing in and out of their coffers, these clubs seem like obvious choices for the power conveyed by strong analytics software. Shields explained that managing the business side of things separately from on-field prowess is a relevant strategy because the seemingly obvious links between victories and popularity aren't always in evidence. He gave the example of baseball's Cubs, perennially outplayed but always popular.

Shields told TechTarget it may be best for teams to ease into making BI a common part of their decision-making processes. He recommended self-service BI processes that can give intelligent insights into the simple problems various employees have every day. One of the main selling points of self-service is that it turns all sorts of professionals into data users without the need to train them in high-level IT advancements. This may prove especially powerful within sports organizations where consumer relations positions make up such a large and vital portion of the operational staff.

The benefits of self-service
Selecting BI software that puts a heavy focus on self-service functionality can potentially transform businesses, whether they are sports teams or banking conglomerates. Products such as Necto 14 are not only designed to work with a variety of employee roles, they are also outfitted with many different types of innovative features that ensure the knowledge gleaned is more than just surface-deep. This means mobile functionality, big data access and more. BI is always evolving, and fortunately there's no need to put aside these advances for firms to get their hands on helpful self-service functionality. They can select modern processes and get the full spectrum of benefits.

Business intelligence forging new place in organizations

Figuring out what exactly business intelligence means today can be a challenge. It's no longer the staid group of solutions that could only yield insights from a small amount of structured data sources, but exactly what it has become is a bit unclear. Fortunately, it still has plenty to offer, and leaders who determine the ways in which analytics could help them may be primed to take their companies beyond less data-driven rivals in the months and years ahead. The addition of features such as mobility, self-service and big data access to the fold has given new life to the science of BI.

The current role
A recent Business 2 Community overview by consultant Denise Drummond-Dunn delved into the many different elements of running analytics within a modern company. She explained, for instance, that BI functions best when the questions it is assigned to solve are of a certain level of quality. This can be achieved by setting experts to the task, perhaps including market researchers. Drummond-Dunn posited that since researchers are adept at making predictions based on information gathered from a vast variety of employee input, they are poised to participate in the new style of BI, less one-dimensional and more capable of delivering actionable insights.

Drummond-Dunn also stated that dashboards are a key element of the new style of BI. This way of presenting data is more instantly actionable than old-fashioned reports that contained facts but were less visually compelling. Leaders who look at data don't want to spend a long time pondering the numbers. They want to use that content to take action and choose what's next for the company. That means learning the gist of the content as quickly as they can, and that in turn means dashboards. The author posited that next, firms must extend this level of access to more employees.

The future calls for software
Dealing with the demands of next-generation BI means having the right software suites in place, just as much as it requires vast reserves of content and a well-trained workforce. Fortunately, software developers are working with these requirements in mind. Programs such as Necto 14 contain features that may have seemed hopelessly futuristic as recently as a few years ago. Whether leaders are most interested in extending insights to a wide variety of employees, dialing up visual accompaniment for their figures or making this all available on the go, this type of solution can deliver the functionality and keep the BI process evolving over time.

Self-service BI now a common convenience

Rather than an optional addition business intelligence's capabilities, it's becoming increasingly clear that self-service features are an evolution in the technology. There are incontrovertible advantages to taking BI analysis out of the exclusive hands of highly trained experts and introducing those functions to a huge range of employees. Individuals who don't have to run their reports through other departments can conduct analyses more quickly and stay on track with their objectives. There's no need to sell business owners on the benefits of efficient and well-informed employees, meaning self-service is simply an advanced and effective way to carry out BI, provided there is proper technology in place.

The choice among businesses
According to a new report from analyst firm BARC, more than half of BI users are now using self-service features. This means that this is now the default, rather than an esoteric option. Leaders have heard about the software's potential and are acting on it instead of stepping back or passing. Researchers pointed out that self-service has shown its appeal in ways that other BI improvements have not, indicating that firms are either finding it easier to use this method, more important to deploy the approach or both. The empowerment of workers at all levels goes on unabated.

What does it mean to truly gain access to self-service BI? BARC's Carsten Bange pointed out that professionals are being given control over their own dashboards. This means that instead of generic views that might need parsing by experts or display stats that don't matter to individuals, each worker is getting a lineup of the insights that matter most in that department, at that moment. The ability to use data as a competitive advantage has always been appealing. Making that easier to do is an obvious good idea that users are taking where and when they can, pushing forward the state of the art.

The right technology
While it's becoming more common for businesses to have access to self-service features, this isn't automatic. They need to select solutions that carry these capabilities. This is where Necto 14 comes in. This suite contains the dashboard customization features users need to embrace true self-service. Beyond that, the software is also able to parse large and scattered information reserves that might be inaccessible otherwise. In the era of big data, this is a highly sought characteristic that goes along with the other top capabilities leaders are seeking. The future of BI will involve a new generation of software attuned to advanced business needs.

BI’s new normal involves non-IT employees

Classic business intelligence solutions were good at accomplishing their core purposes – namely, helping organizations make better decisions based on information instead of intuition or guesswork. However, it may have felt like a pretty substantial group of employees were missing the boat. Getting output from BI can be a complex process, one handled by employees with advanced competency and training in a particular field. But what about the business staff without this specialized expertise? They would have to file a ticket with the proper department and wait. And if there's one thing that can scuttle a quick strategy in business, it's a protracted delay.

The self-service revolution
A recent insideBIGDATA piece by contributor Daniel Gutierrez explained the changes that are underway in IT today, shifting the onus of asking BI questions to departments that don't have a technical background. These employees can take the new freedom they have been given and get on with their own projects. As for the technological developments that have actually made this highly logical change possible, Gutierrez highlighted development in the interfaces accompanying algorithms. The processing power is still all there, making sure the insights are sound, but now they are tied to visualizations and other tools that make sense to those without advanced training.

Today, granting self-service BI access doesn't just mean opening up a few weak or token algorithms to the masses. The solutions themselves are strong and capable, with the ability to handle large data sources. Gutierrez cited big data as a challenge presented to companies today. They see that they can harvest great insights from information that would have been considered too large or loosely structured to produce anything of value in years past, but they need to make the connection between this content and advanced business needs through capable software. Fortunately, products today can rise to the task.

Go for self-service
Companies hoping to delve into self-service analytics can fortunately get started right away, as this technology is finally available for consumption as a standard feature within BI suites. Solutions such as Necto 14 are powerful and effective because they combine the ability to make sense of a huge variety of inputs with friendly design that puts the outputs of those analyses in front of workers who haven't been trained specifically in interpreting BI. This is a boon to everyone from the CEO to the road warriors in the sales department, as it facilitates accessing the software through a mobile device and seeing custom, helpfully tailored results.