Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs - About Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence (BI) Implementation is a complex element in the digital transformation journey of an enterprise of any scale or industry. As a BI expert, Diacto comes across many queries regarding Business Intelligence solutions, BI tools and BI support. We have attempted to answer some of them here.

I have an ERP system. Why do I need BI?

ERP is a transactional system designed to capture business transaction details. The ERP architecture is not optimized for reporting purposes. Although most of the business data resides in ERP but invariably not all, significant part of business data may come from non-ERP platforms, excel files or other ERP systems. Therefore, integrating the data and adding business logic to make raw data meaningful is extremely critical for BIs success. Bringing data from external applications into one ERP for reporting purposes and adding business logic is not only challenging and complicated but most ERP applications don’t support it. Therefore, for business reporting, BI becomes extremely critical. 

What do you mean by a 'Living' dashboard?

Living dashboard is the dashboard that refreshes automatically when the underlying raw data changes. i.e. Raw data change trigger ETL process to process the business logic in the background and generate dataset that powers dashboard. 

How am I assured of security of my data?

Almost all the modern BI provides row level data security through which you can define who gets to see what portion of data. Most BI platforms support end to end data encryption so the data is encrypted during transit. Also, Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) is another option that customer may choose to implement to keep the control of data encryption with themselves vs controlled by BI software provider. 

What kind of Industry should use BI?

BI is critical for every organization and every industry, and every organization is doing BI in some form or the other every day. Some are more organized automated and modern, but majority of the organizations use manual and time-consuming and painful methods to get access to the information they need to run the business. The operational efficiency and the growth of any organization is heavily dependent on the flow of actionable information to the decision maker in timely manner. 

We are a large company with many divisions and each having its own business system – How can BI help me?

Overall visibility of business performance, what is working, what is not is a very common question in every organization. Leaders who are responsible for global operation, often struggle to get the information they need, and they depend on several people to consolidate data and prepare report. This dependency causes delays and often they get the information when it is too late to act. Modern BI, if implemented correctly, can connect to various sources of data, add business logic, and provide living and interactive dashboard to answer leader’s business question for large and complex organizations. 

Why is it called Modern BI?

Modern BI addresses the new business demands of users with sophisticated features in an easy-to-use integrated BI environment. Modern BI, once implemented is a self-service BI solution that makes each stakeholder master of his own data and its analysis. Users can customize the dashboards on their own without depending on IT and data specialists. Modern BI can update actual transactions in near real time and generates reports literally on-the-fly. A good modern BI platform offers users sophisticated collaboration tool to share data analysis and its outcomes with other users for data driven decision making.  

Another powerful feature that modern BI offers is actionable insights. Users can set up alerts and/or actions based on criteria of their choice to automate many of their tasks. This makes a modern BI extremely powerful tool. A lean team is required to implement and maintain the modern BI tool, making it quite cost effective too. 

We are a medium sized growing company – can we start small and scale the BI later as we grow?

Yes. Implementing BI Solution in one business function/unit is a best way to begin with. Once you see the results you can always scale up and get it implemented organisation wide. 

When BI is critical to the success of organization, why most organizations can’t get it right? Why 70-80% BI projects fail?

BI is the brain of any organization where data needs to flow from every source that business operates on, and they need to be processed and analysed to determine the action to be taken. To make BI work, several aspects (right hardware/software | technical and business knowledge | experience | leadership support | change management | direction | Planning & Coordination etc.) need to come together and work seamlessly for the long-term success and unfortunately most organization can’t get everything right and therefore they fail to deliver. 

What are the factors we MUST consider while selecting BI tool?

Selecting the right BI tool is a critical component for the success of you BI journey. Important factors to be considered while selecting the tool are:

Data Visualization: Creating powerful data visualization focused on answering business question should be easy, user friendly and the tool should give you the ability to customize the level of access based on roles or functional groups.

Data Integration and Transformation: Rarely do organizations have their data at a single location. Whilst considering a BI tool, carefully consider the number of data sources and disparate systems you have today and the level of integration and transformation that will be required. 

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Hardware, Software, License, BI Resources, Training, Implementation, Ongoing Support & Maintenance are key contributors to TCO. It is common mistake to make BI tool decision purely based on User License cost alone. 

Ease of User Adoption: Ideally the BI tool adoption should be as easy as installing an app from the app store and get going without any/minimal training. You don’t want to be investing too much time in training users on how to use a complicated BI tool. 

Self-Service: One of the most critical aspect of BI is self-service. You don’t want IT (BI team) to stand between data and decision maker. The tool should empower business users to build their own KPIs easily and quickly with minimal training. 

Mobile Capability: A BI tool should be accessible from any device anywhere. This enables users get the information in real-time and make decisions as and when needed on-the-go. BI tool without great responsive experience is not a good idea. 

Performance: It can be very frustrating to click a dashboard and wait for data to load. Lots of BI tools perform great at smaller data volumes but as the data increases, the performance starts to drop. Project your future data volume needs and ensure that the BI tool is scalable and capable of performing well at large data volumes too. 

Notification Alerts: It is practically impossible to monitor each KPI especially when there are several moving parts. Notification alert enables “management by exception” so the decision makers are notified when set thresholds are breached. 

What are the critical components of complete BI Solution?

Please note, visualization is one component of BI and not complete BI. It is a common mistake to compare the cost of visualization tool alone while selecting BI tool/strategy. Here are some of the critical components of BI that needs to come together seamlessly for long term success: 

Connection: This is one of the most challenging components of BI. Most BI tools struggle to connect to all/majority of data sources that may be needed for building KPIs. Please ensure that the tool you select allows you to automatically connect to all key data sources. Typical data sources are ERP, on-prem applications, excel, csv, google sheet, cloud applications like salesforce, social media applications for marketing data i.e. Facebook, Google Analytics, Twitter, Instagram etc. 

Storage: Once connected to the data sources, the needs to be stored at one common place where you can integrate them and build business logic. i.e. SQL Server, Azure Synapse, Snowflake etc. Please ensure that the data warehouse you choose can process the volume of data your business would use at an acceptable speed. While making decision for the organization, think of long-term data volume processing need. 

ETL: Data coming from various systems in its raw form can hardly answer any question, therefore joining multiple datasets, adding business logic is very common without which data visualization can not happen. ETL is perhaps the heard of BI, without ETL, you can’t imagine BI success. The speed and ease of data transformation are key considerations. 

Visualization: This is where you build KPIs to answer business questions. Most visualization tools cover basics of visualization, some may be more visualization as compared to others. If you have very specific use case and have any special need, you may want to ensure that is covered during the evaluation phase. You must ensure that the Performance of the dashboard with large volume is acceptable else it will be a big challenge for user adoption. 

Collaboration: Not all BI tool offers this feature but, this feature can take your BI experience to a completely different level. This feature allows you to collaborate/converse on the KPIs in real-time with all the stakeholders without having to rely on offline email communication to initiate action. 

Notification Alert: This is another feature that will significantly enhance the power of information in the organization. This feature allows you to set an alert on the KPIs so you get notified when the exception occurred. This facilitates management by exception and is extremely handy to monitor business performance in real-time. 

What makes “The Total Cost of Ownership” for BI?

Total Cost of Ownership includes: 

a) Hardware

  1. 1. PC/Servers 

b) Software License cost 

  1. 1. Visualization tool 
  2. 2. Storage 
  3. 3. Connectors 
  4. 4. ETL 

c) Resource cost 

  1. 1. Technical Consultants
  2. 2. Business Consultants 

d) Training and Development

  1. 1. User Training
  2. 2. Learning Cost 

e) Cost of development and deployment 

f) Cost & Ease of Maintenance 

  1. 1. Resources Required to maintain 
  2. 2. Uptime 

g) Time to Value

There are dozens of BI tools out there in the market, how do I know which one is right for my organization?

Indeed, there are several BI tools available in the market and it can be a daunting task to select the right one. Some of the most popular ones are Power BI, Tableau, QlikView and Domo.  

Reach out to us for an hour of free consultation that could help you make the right decision for your long-term success. We will ask few questions to understand your short-term and long term need and walk you through the pros and cons of various options most suited for your organization. This consultation call will be with one of the best BI experts in the industry who have been in your shoes as part of their role in previous organization. 

In future if my organization decides to have a new ERP system or add/change the CRM, do we need to change the BI Solution?

No, the same BI solution will work on any ERP or CRM system. It will perhaps require some reconfiguration work involving connecting to the right data sources, etc at the back end.