Using Business Intelligence Software

How can small businesses ensure they are giving employees access to information that lets them make decisions quickly, easily, and intuitively? Today, business intelligence software—long used by Global 1000 organizations—is being adopted by many small businesses to help meet these needs. However, while BI software may be useful to many small businesses, it’s important to take budget constraints, appropriate features, and support requirements into consideration. Here are a few practical tips that will help you get what you want without breaking the bank:

1. Enable your users to help themselves. Traditional BI tools were built with an ecosystem in mind for IT administrators, developers, and business analysts to use in configuring and writing reports. Small businesses rarely possess dedicated staff to fill these positions, so a solution that requires a technical person to create or modify reports is going to lead to end-user frustration and low adoption rates. Look for a solution that doesn’t require technical backgrounds to learn and use, but rather one that users themselves can drive.

2. Bigger and broader isn’t necessarily better. Products that claim to do everything sound great if you plan to exploit all of the product’s features and functionality. But that can be cost-prohibitive and can take months or years to implement. Consider what features will be most important to your users and start there. Focusing solely on big brand-name platforms will likely lead to buying more than you need or will ever use.

3. Cheaper isn’t always better. Companies of all sizes want a deal, but just because a BI solution is cheaper doesn’t mean it will suit your unique business needs. For example, selecting a solution that has less expensive licensing costs, but is difficult for your employees to use or is relatively complicated to implement, can create more work for everyone and result in further costs down the line.

Mark Lorion Vice-President of Marketing TIBCO Spotfire Somerville, Mass.

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