If you currently use spreadsheets as a way to manage and report on data in your business, you will know how challenging it can be to get the right information in front of the right people at the right time. Spreadsheets can be slow and difficult to use, labour intensive, skill intensive, and every manual step you perform increases the chance of inputting errors. And, by the time you have generated a report, you’ll probably be working with old and inaccurate data.
As they become more difficult to use in the reporting process, is it time to surrender the spreadsheet in favour of a Business Intelligence solution?
A Business Intelligence solution combines complex data from multiple sources within your business, delivering easy to digest visual analytics and instant insights to uncover a true picture of how your business is performing.
What makes a BI solution a smarter choice for combining, managing and analysing data than utilising spreadsheets?
Working with large amounts of data
Spreadsheets struggle to handle large amounts of data without slowing down, which means it takes even longer to produce the reports you need. And manually inputting and manipulating data can cause errors. A BI solution uses innovative technology to unleash incredible processing power, allowing it to handle terabytes of data with ease. It links directly to your data sources to speed up access to data and eliminate problems caused by inputting errors in your spreadsheets.
You can get the answers you need and start acting on them in the time it would have taken for someone to request a report. During meetings and presentations, if someone asks a question, you can answer it straight away with up-to-date data.
“I don’t know what question I want to ask tomorrow for my business. Next Generation BI gives me the flexibility and speed in order to act.” Iain Dougal, Financial Director, Pets Corner
Working with real-time data
BI software auto-updates so that you are always working with real-time data. Users don’t need to update any data or formulas manually, removing the risk of errors and also ensuring that everyone sees and works with the same information. Interactive dashboards mean that you can see all of your data in a few easy clicks. Although you are always working with the latest data, it’s easy to compare current data with historical data. For example, you can compare sales data for January 2019 with sales data from January 2018. BI solutions allow you to filter, explore and mine your data for targeted analysis. This makes it easier to spot trends and lets businesses adjust what they are doing based on what’s working and what isn’t.
When you need to collaborate with others, you can easily share BI dashboards, insights and reports with colleagues, shareholders etc. Dashboards can also be published online and you can invite others to view them. Shared dashboards are interactive so others can tweak, filter, explore or save a copy of a dashboard to investigate further. And because a BI solution is scalable, it can handle your continually growing data and the teams analysing it with ease.
Alerts as things happen
Whether you prefer to view your data on your laptop, tablet or smartphone; a BI solution lets you work seamlessly across a variety of devices, so you can stay up-to-date wherever and whenever is convenient. You can also set up instant and automated alerts to your dashboard, mobile or favourite messaging platform to notify your and your team of updates to your data as they happen.
Combine ALL of your data
In most organisations, data is stored in multiple unconnected databases. BI software allows you to combine multiple data sources at the same time, centralising data management so you don’t have to waste time switching between different databases.
Easy to use
A BI system is designed to be used by people who need to analyse large amounts of data with minimal technical ability, making it a truly self-service solution. The same can’t be said for working with spreadsheets and complex formulae where one wrong click could jeopardise your report.
Nearly one in five companies has suffered financial losses as a result of errors in spreadsheets. Source: F1F9
Because visual data is easier to understand at a glance, users can tailor their dashboard to show the data they want, in the format that works for them. With hundreds of predesigned data visualisation widgets to choose from, the options are endless. You can display your data as a simple pie chart, a complex geographical map, a scatter chart, and everything in between.
Your BI system contains a lot of sensitive information about your business, and it’s essential that you are able to secure the system and the data you manage. There are many features available to you to safeguard your information while still making it easy to share insights with the people who need them.
All of your data can be stored securely in the cloud which will have its own storage encryption system, or on on-premise servers protected by a corporate firewall. Access to dashboards and data can be controlled to ensure that users can only see and interact with the dashboards that are appropriate for them, so data security is maintained at all times. In addition, audit trails are created to track user activity including logins, usage, and data imports with user IDs and timestamps.
It is far more difficult to manage access to and track actions taken when working with spreadsheets.
Benefits of BI include:
- Save time and money with faster analytics
- Make smarter, faster data-driven decisions
- Be agile and proactive, adapt to changes quickly
- Improved customer experience
- Improved resource management
- At a glance views
- Easy to create, export and share reports
- Secure and encrypted
- Flawless data processing and performance
- Integrate seamlessly with existing systems
- Works across all devices
- Tailored to your business
Working with spreadsheets as part of the reporting process could be holding your business back and can have a negative impact on decision making and growth. In comparison, a BI system offers a better, faster way to uncover actionable insights within your business with many additional benefits. If you want to outpace the competition, can you afford not to embrace business intelligence and develop a data driven culture in your business?
If you would like to find out more about BI solutions and how they can work for your business, let’s talk. Call us on 01285 810606 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a demo and find out how we can help.