Most analytics products today are designed either for the individual or for the enterprise—and each requires a major compromise. On one hand, if you choose an individualized product so businesspeople can create their own reports, the tool probably can’t scale to provide widespread sharing, consistency, or collaboration on those reports, data models, or business logic. On the other, if you go with an enterprise-class analysis platform, it can handle things like distribution and pooled content and business logic, but won’t have the same variety of content and information because end users won’t be able to self-explore data, content, and analysis. Instead they’ll be forced into a queue waiting for a centralized technician to run the analytics, build content, and decide on appropriate data models.
Fortunately, compromise is not necessary. You don’t have to choose between the promise of self-service and the scalability of enterprise; between the benefits of ‘innovation’ and ‘governance.’ Combine the power of the two, and instead you’ll get the best of both worlds: business analytics that deliver the highest possible return on your data investments, with unprecedented speed.
So if you’re done compromising, look for BI solutions that provide the complete package, including:
- Simplicity and time to market: a turnkey solution for the enterprise
- Intuitiveness and ease-of-use: true self-service for end users, and thumbs up from IT
- Performance and functional scalability: both technical architecture and the functionality to handle the complexities of thousands of users interacting with BI
- Integration: seamless operation with industry-standard platforms and technologies from the backend, to the desktop, to mobile.
Turnkey Solution Simplifies Deployment for Organizations Large and Small
In just six months, a large government organization with staff spread across 50 states managed to onboard 100,000 users. It takes an enterprise-class architecture and core functionality to enable this kind of massive onboarding, and still provide the required ongoing ease of administration that enables people to easily create personal content and share it en masse.
Even if your organization isn’t that large, you still need a solution that has a robust design with centrally managed security provisions—including security modelling for multitenancy—and the scalability to support a growing number of users, interactions, and exponential content growth. Mega vendor solutions may scale to support your business as it grows, but these aren’t turnkey solutions. They typically take months to install and configure and years to roll out, in the process burning up time and resources that no organization, of any size, can afford to waste. Alternatively, businesses that increase desktop-based productivity tools to address enterprise-wide BI demands produce a sprawling number of data silos, analysis, and decentralization of the truth that simply kills the ability to maintain analytic congruity throughout the enterprise.
Ease of Use Drives Adoption—and Reveals Innovation
One problem with enterprise solutions is that most aren’t self-service; meaning users need to ask tech experts to set up their data models, reports, dashboards, queries, and business logic—which stifles innovation, limits end user adoption, and creates delays in data-driven decision making. In contrast, access to sharable content, independent business logic, and user-friendly interfaces unleashes new creativity. In the example above, the agency’s employees created 30,000 reports, set up 1,000 dashboards, and generated hundreds of thousands of queries—in just six months of turning the solution on.
Who knew there was so much curiosity and innovative thinking in the organization, just waiting to reveal itself? If those people had had to wait for some technically savvy gatekeeper to facilitate the roll out, the organization might have no more than a couple of dashboards, a few dozen reports, and a few hundred queries in 6 month—the typical scenario with BI tools deployed in a large organization. Instead, with about four hours of training on average, employees got creative and started asking questions and looking at their data and the organization in completely new ways. For the first time, the organization began to realize and leverage the true value of its combined human capital and data assets.
Scalability Enables Consistency
What happens when a single user, working with an analytics productivity tool, comes up with a definitive calculation for something important? The company can sign off on the calculation as the new standard and circulate the logic. But will the new insight be faithfully deployed to the hundreds and possibly thousands of data artifacts that would use it? It’s hit-or-miss, at best. Chances are reports, models, analyses, and spreadsheets will still be using the previous logic for years afterwards, frustrating attempts to ‘compare apples with apples’ across the business or innovate the use of data.
But when an analytical tool combines self-service approachability with enterprise governance, that chosen calculation can easily and immediately become the law of the land. Users with appropriate access can share and secure content when they publish it and make it available to everyone everywhere for real-world collaboration, confident that if they update their work, everyone can see the changes.
Further, individuals can still do their own data modelling and analytics, yet still centralize and share it for easy collaboration with colleagues when and if necessary. People can make creative contributions in their own sandbox, while staying within the framework of organizational control and consistency.
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Integration with Industry-Standard Products and Platforms Leverages Current Investment
Most organizations today have a significant investment in industry-standard data platforms, such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and IBM. With huge existing deployments, they may want to scale up usage, but they’ll only want to add to their infrastructure. They won’t want to rip and replace the foundation of their data strategies.
Such was the case for a large enterprise that wanted its 30,000 staffers to be able to access enterprise data repositories that had previously been built into Microsoft Analysis Services. In common with most enterprises this size, the company was sitting on a goldmine of data, but needed more effective ways of accessing it for analysis. The company was looking for a solution that combined governance with innovation, so business users could do self-serve discovery, share business insights, and collaborate on reports. Plus, the BI solution had to match and exceed the security standards for a federal agency. The organization went with a product that exposes the underlying functionality of SQL Server and leverages existing enterprise security, so the customer got self-service BI and fast-track analytics and reporting against existing data and infrastructure with no major changes needed.
Innovation Plus Governance Powers Business Velocity
When governance and innovation are delivered in harmony, the combination has the power to transform organizations and accelerate the adoption of business analytics for everyone. Accessible advanced analytics, reporting, dashboards, and data visualizations across departmental and company boundaries, to all user types, on any device, in a collaborative format unleashes innovation and creates a culture of rapid, data-driven decision making—all within a larger infrastructure that ensures consistency and a single source of truth across the enterprise. There’s no longer any reason to compromise with your BI solution. Demand more—and get unprecedented competitive advantages.
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(image source: Marcin Wichary, CC2.0)