3 Dirty Little Secrets of Business Intelligence

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Business intelligence, in and of itself, does not constitute a golden ticket that ensures company success. In fact, the best business data analyst in the world cannot produce enough data to guarantee a client will succeed. Business intelligence is just one in a much larger collection of tools that businesses use to compete in the digital era.

I have been offering freelance business intelligence services for years, and I've never seen a perfect business intelligence solution. I have never seen a perfect piece of software, a perfect use of data, or even a perfect database from which to glean that data.

So what does all this mean to data analysis and business intelligence services? These three 'dirty little secrets' of business intelligence should make things clear enough:

Spreadsheets Are Still King

Company A uses a customised business intelligence software from a vendor who specialises in business data analysis. Company B prefers the freelance business intelligence services approach. Both companies still make heavy use of spreadsheets.

The first dirty little secret of business intelligence is that spreadsheets are still king. Just about every piece of business intelligence software is created to find data, extract it, and dump it into spreadsheets where it can be used by people who need it. Why? Because spreadsheets are something we understand. They are great tools for connecting data across multiple points, creating running formulas, and sorting data in particular ways.

Software Is Inconsistent

The previously mentioned Company A uses one of the best business intelligence software solutions on the market. So does three of its competitors. Interestingly enough, all four companies experience inconsistent results even though they use the exact same software package.

The second dirty little secret of business intelligence is that software is inconsistent by its very nature. Simply put, software solutions cannot possibly anticipate every need a company might have. Developers have to be somewhat general in what they offer in order to reach the widest possible audience, so their software has inherent gaps that create inconsistency.

The Cloud Makes Life More Difficult

The cloud offers modern businesses a lot of benefits, especially in the software as a service (SaaS) space where most business intelligence solutions are found. But the cloud also makes life more difficult for data retrieval and analysis. This is the third and final dirty little secret of business intelligence.

Cloud computing dictates that business intelligence is no longer limited to data found on local networks. Now we have to access data scattered across the cloud and consolidate it before it can be used. The more locations we are harvesting data from, the more complex the process becomes.

Business intelligence is by no means perfect. It can be a very good tool if used properly and with the right perspective. If you would like to know more about how this is done, please reach out to me. Let me help you understand how business intelligence used the right way can benefit your business.

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Author: Chris Scanlon

Hullo.  I'm a graduate chartered accountant with 25 years experience in blue chip businesses and the last 15 years in owner manged businesses.  My particular skill is turning data into information. Bringing the performance management of the business alive so that ...