Blog | Apr 18, 2012

Tackling the Business Intelligence Basics: A Q&A Session

Brian JordanA while back, I was honored to be asked to cover the “Business Intelligence Basics” as part of an "Ask The Business Analytics Expert" panel for TechTarget’s site.  I've enjoyed responding to these questions and wanted to share a few important ones here:

Q: What are five main business requirements we should get before searching for a Business Intelligence (BI) platform?
A:  1. What is lacking in the way you do reporting and analytics currently?   2.  Define a process for data governance and master data.  3.  What are your criteria for choosing and implementing a BI Solution?  4.  What are the capabilities you need to support your information and analysis requirements?  5.  What data sources do you need to integrate to have the information you need to run and measure your business?

Q:  I'm looking for a BI tool that is truly user-friendly for business users to perform genuinely ad-hoc queries. Are there any comparative reviews of user adoption to this level out there? What are your views?  I find suppliers are often overly optimistic about ease of use.
A:   I would agree that vendors will advertise their solutions as easy to use, but ease of use means something different to everyone.  We find that only a small percentage of users actually want or need ad-hoc query capabilities.  Most business users need interactive reporting or data discovery and/or exploration capabilities.  Most BI vendors have these tools and I would argue that they are intuitive and easy to use, especially if they are configured properly with the correct audience in mind. 

Q: What are some BI tools that you think don’t get the credit they should in the BI market?

A:   The biggest ones that comes to mind are ETL and Data Management tools.  They are not flashy and, as such, people tend not to get excited about these tools.  Instead, they focus on the dashboard and olap tools.  The problem is that without trustworthy, clean data, the dashboards are worthless.   

Because in the end, it’s all about good data….