Along with the rise of Big Data and the desire for companies to better understand their customer base comes the pressing need for business intelligence (BI) solutions. In the past few years these were traditionally on-premises solutions but they are now shifting to the cloud making them more affordable and more scalable. In fact, the cloud based BI market is projected to grow to $2.94B by 2018.
So how do you choose a cloud BI provider for your company? Here are four advantages of and a mini best practices guide for finding the right cloud-based business intelligence software:
1. Cloud-based BI is easier to integrate with other services
For example, Microsoft Power BI offers integration with its entire Office 365 suite, so information can flow easily between programs and databases. Data from SQL Server can be analyzed within Power BI, and these functions can be done from anywhere due to the internet-based access of the cloud. It’s important to use an easily-integrated business intelligence software one that doesn’t create a “data island” where information cannot be easily taken from or shared with other applications.
2. Adapt quickly to business challenges and upgrades
A core benefit of any cloud solution is that upgrades and maintenance can occur at any time, without any interruption to the business operations. With an on-premise solution, there are usually associated costs, the greater potential for delay, and some demands placed on IT who have to either manage or at least oversee the maintenance procedures. Forms, queries, and other BI functions can be changed on the fly within a cloud-environment, opening up more options when compared to a static traditional setup. Given the fast pace of competitive business, risking lack of access to BI information because of system upgrades is a recipe for disaster.
Mobile accessibility is also a key component of a cloud-based BI solution, where users in the field no longer need to “talk to IT” to run reports. They can make decisions on projects or sales while in the field, allowing them to capture opportunities before they are potentially lost to competitors.
3. Lower expenses
Cost is of course a primary concern for any new solution implementation. Thankfully, the costs of cloud BI software have significantly dropped in the past few years as the underlying expense of storage space has dropped. There’s no hardware or infrastructure required for a cloud BI provider, and the implementation/startup costs are nominal. It’s the fast and cost-effective implementation that makes cloud-based BI a great risk/reward for businesses of any size that want to leverage their data.
The number of users with a cloud-based solution can be typically changed dynamically, which allows businesses to adjust licensing costs based on growth in the business. Talk closely with the BI vendor (or a qualified consultant) to properly understand the pricing structure and its implications for your particular company.
4. Easily bring in social network data
Advanced BI platforms such as Power BI are now recognizing the value of social network data. For example, Microsoft Azure users can build “sentiment analyses” that pull in real-time Twitter data and events. This data can then be moved to the Power BI dashboard so that marketers and other staff members can better understand what’s moving the social needle at that very moment. It’s a form of “opinion mining” that allows users to learn about the customer base’s attitudes towards a product or announcement. The Twitter analysis model is especially useful since it is hashtag based, so companies can test out promotions and new ideas via use of the hashtags. The broader benefit of such analytics is it helps companies create content or promotions that are relevant to the real interests of verified people.
There are myriad benefits of an integrated and cloud BI solution that work together to provide users with actionable and relevant intelligence. Understanding the main advantages of these solutions will help guide you on choosing the right vendor for your business.
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