Business intelligence tools (BI) can be a great way to surface insights across your organisation. They can pave the way to the creation of a data-driven culture, where everyone consults data before making any critical decisions. A lot rides on picking the tech that works best for you. But with so many different tools available, how can you decide which one works best for your needs?
Starting with your use cases is the most effective way to select your BI tool. By considering your current and future use cases, you can rank what functions are essential, and identify what isn’t needed in your tool.
Many companies have multiple use cases. It’s important to match the right business intelligence technology to the people using them. It can be tempting to give every style of tool to everyone – to cover all your bases. But that will likely overwhelm them. Focus on a handful of tools that everyone will use, whether that’s for a snapshot of operational performance, spreadsheet integrations or limited data exploration. When picking a BI tool, you should also consider the following:
Many tools offer the same end-point in terms of reports and visuals. Where they differentiate is in the functions that they offer. Business intelligence tools have a range of features to offer and the trick is to rank these in order of need. What are your must-haves, your nice-to-haves and the features that you won’t ever use?
Once you’ve ranked these, you can determine the tech that best fits your use cases and budget. Plus, what can be implemented according to your team’s skills and resources. Most of the following features are essentials:
The following features are usually more optional and nice-to-have. But they might not be needed by all organisations:
There are some extra considerations that you need to take into account when choosing your tool. So, determine whether you might need custom coding for additional features, or an add-on product or a specific product edition (an enterprise versus a basic version).
These will all require additional time and expense. Factoring this in before investing in your tech will save you from some expensive surprises down the line.
Remember that you’re unlikely to find a one-size-fits-all solution for every department. It’s okay to have a number of different tools for various business areas and users. Likewise, it’s worth testing potential tech with different user groups. This will tell you what will work for your organisation in real life.
Another potential stumbling block is believing the sales and marketing messages surrounding each tool. Instead, speak to similar organisations and people who have implemented the tool in a similar way to you. That will give you an unbiased view of whether it’ll work effectively for you.
There are a few common mistakes when picking and using a business intelligence tool. But one company’s mistake is another’s lesson. So here are a few pitfalls to avoid:
Business Intelligence tools are unique to your organisation’s needs. You cannot choose them based on the newest tech on the market, something you used in a previous company, or a product used by a similar company. By considering your use cases first, you can determine what features are essential. Look at your budget, resources and the skills required. From this, you’ll be able to pick a BI tool that fits your organisation, now and in the future.
Jason Foster, Cynozure Founder & CEO, named Entrepreneur of the Year at The Allica Bank Great British Entrepreneur Awards for the Services Industries in London
Cynozure named as the 14th fastest growing company on London’s 2023 Fast Growth 50 Index
Jason Foster, Cynozure’s Founder & CEO, recognised as One to Watch in The LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders for 2023