6 key features to choose the best Business Intelligence (BI) tool for your business

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Business Intelligence is an integral part of data driven business approach. Using the data gathered over a period of time for a business to create meaningful insights that can lead to informed business decisions are a sure way of taking your business to new heights because whatever decisions are being made they are not bullets in the blind but actually backed up by data facts and research through business intelligence and analytic tools.

Data are becoming the new raw material of business. – By Craig Mundie, Senior Advisor to the CEO at Microsoft


Business intelligence can now be performed by a range of ad hoc reporting tools that are available in the market and can be purchased in order to setup the data reporting and other features that form the basis of business intelligence. In this article we would observe in detail what is business intelligence and what are the key features that are deemed necessary for successful business analytics through these BI tools.

What is BI?

The first thing to understand is the basic definition of business intelligence. It means to aggregate, arrange and analyze data from data sources across the organization and perform data analytics and reporting to generate meaningful insights that help management make informed decisions for their business.

A 2013 survey conducted by the IBM’s Institute of Business Value and the University of Oxford showed that 71% of the financial service firms had already adopted analytics and big data.

Data is now the lifeblood of any business environment. Instead of keeping this data uselessly lying around the business must refine and make use of this data to identify the patterns and data trends in the market. This can be done by observing the data from previous years. Data analysts use Business intelligence tools and techniques to study and analyze big data from business and reach conclusions about the performance of their products in the market. They also identify common mistakes that can be visible through data analytics and reporting. This valuable information is then conveyed to the management who then work to bring changes in their strategic and structural plans to rectify these mistakes and hence take business decisions that would increase their product sales.

As rightly said  “BI is about providing the right data at the right time to the right people so that they can take the right decisions” – Nic Smith with Microsoft BI Solutions Marketing

Key features of Business Intelligence tools

Many Business intelligence tools have been developed and marketed to perform Business analytics and data reporting for a business and help data analysts to derive valuable insights by creating dynamic and detailed visualizations and report. These reports help organizations take crucial decisions by monitoring key metrics in real time data.

The use of business intelligence softwares have made the job of data analysts easier by providing means to perform data analytics and reporting in an easy manner using the powerful features available for creating meaningful charts and reports for data analytics.

Here, we have researched and presented some key features that must be a part of the business intelligence software to make it to the list of top choices by data analysts for performing business analytics and reporting.

Data visualizations

One of the key feature that must be a part of business intelligence software is the ability to work on business data and create data visualizations that can help data analysts to identify the disparity and gaps in marketing and other areas of business processing. These data visualizations make it easier to identify market trends for the business and work on rectifying common mistakes and make informed decisions to increase revenue. Ad hoc reporting software like dotnet report builder lets user create beautiful visualizations for intuitive data analytics.

Creative reports

This feature of business intelligence software offers a range of report layouts to choose from when designed ad hoc reports for understanding the situation of business and how their products are performing in the market. Data analysts can choose the fields a s well as the best suited layout to present data for analytics.

Data dashboards

Data dashboard are one of the newer features and extremely useful when monitoring real time data and comparing multiple reports to identify data patterns. Users can monitor time critical data on the data dashboard for being up to date and avoiding loss in business by making faster and timely decisions. Data dashboards can be creative and designed uniquely by users to meet their individual needs.

Predictive analysis

Most good business intelligence softwares have the feature to perform predictive analysis using the big data. This feature lets data analysts study data from the previous years for the business and then make predictions about sales and other metrics in the future. Business decisions by the leaders can be based on predictive analysis and strategic plans for improvement can be based on outcomes from this analysis.

What – if Analysis

What if analysis aims to answer specific questions that are targeted at the data. Data analysts perform detailed study of data to gather insights and try to answer these what if questions. These questions are usually asked by top management if they are planning to introduce any big change in their operational strategies and want to perform an impact analysis before application of new rules. The result set of a what if analysis usually discusses the pros and cons of a targeted business question.

Ranking reports

Ranking reports are the simplest way to compare and contrast the different products and services provided by a business where an analysis is performed and a rank is assigned to each product for finding out where they stand in relation to other products in the company. Reason are then identified to find out why a product ranked lower and steps are taken to improve sales for the lower ranking products.

Conclusion

With so many features available in the market and so many products to choose for business intelligence, data analysts should first evaluate their business environment and create an evaluation plan that summarizes their specific data reporting and analytics need and once they have understood the requirements for their own business workflow and identified the business data needs then they should start searching through the available business intelligence software to choose the best suited solution for their business needs.

The Business intelligence software deployment and integration is yet another point that the data analysts need to focus and decide before making any purchases. With the growing popularity of Embedded Business intelligence software they must study the pros and cons of getting an embedded or a standalone business intelligence software.

Surveys also suggest that most businesses are favorable in purchasing a business intelligence software with key features like customized reports and data dashboards. Very few businesses require more sophisticated and complicated features for data analytics and reporting. When researching for the Business intelligence software for a business, basic features should be ticked off the checklist to provide all necessary requirements that your business needs to utilize their business data, for performing analytics.

Dotnet report builder caters very efficiently to all these business needs and fits in gracefully with the existing business environment that makes dotnet report builder a popular choice for small to large scale business data analytics needs.

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