We recently ran a business intelligence (BI)/ reporting webinar aimed at ‘pain relief’ for users struggling with ad hoc reporting. Speaking with business users about the issues around reporting, we regularly hear about the issues that can make ad hoc reporting particularly painful. These are the concerns we hear most frequently. How many of these strike a chord with you?
- Too manual. Time spent simply collating data from different sources greatly outweighs time spent analysing the data.
- Inaccuracies in collated data. Due to time pressures to publish reports, corners are often cut on validation of the numbers or the tools are prone to errors (see this article in The Wall Street Journal: 88% of spreadsheets have errors).
- Out of date information. The time required to merge and validate data from all their different systems means that it has lost relevancy to the current situation. Too many decisions are based on old data.
- Inflexibility. What they see is often all they get with no easy/quick way to ask “why does that number….” e.g. follow up questions.
- Expensive to produce. This occurs particularly with the traditional big providers or stack technologies meaning that the more advanced tools are just left in the hands of the analysts.
- Equally expensive to change. A new reporting system costs time and money. As their business operations shift and change weekly, the bigger the gap becomes between the static reports produced to address requirements way back then compared with the agile ad hoc data analysis needed in today’s market.
And so this list of pains goes on.
It’s only going to get worse in my opinion. Unavoidable influences are already impacting on these reporting and analytics issues faced by all kinds of organisations. These kinds of issues include exponential growth in data volumes; the need to merge external ‘big data’ public data sources with internal data; continued economic pressures driving the need to seek out competitive advantages and the age old requirements of finding better/new ways to reduce costs and/or increase profits.
I’m not so foolish to suggest a BI panacea exists. However, there are already solutions out there with the capabilities to address and overcome the majority of these everyday issues as listed above, as well as cater for the emerging pressures around big data.
So what is this wonder medicine to help majority of business users get ahead of their data? Gartner refers to them as data discovery software platforms from vendors such as QlikView. Gone is the need for a PhD to understand the BI tool. Easy-to-use interfaces guide all types of users through data with rich visualisations in high-level dashboards down to transactional detail for in-depth supporting analysis. QlikView delivers self-service enablement to people across the organisation to investigate their data and find the nuggets of gold. In turn these nuggets provide insight back to the business to drive actions and decisions for the greater good. Constraints such as limited data volumes, exorbitant software costs, complex training requirements for entry level usage, restrictions on what questions can be asked of and answered by the data… all gone.
Professional Advantage has helped numerous organisations ease their suffering of reporting and analytics.–Talk to us today to find out how we can assist you.
You can read more about Professional Advantage and business intelligence or QlikView here.
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