Is Your BI Stuck Under a Streetlight?

A man stands under a streetlight searching for something.

A passerby walks over and asks him, “What are you doing?”

The man replies, “I dropped my wallet and I cannot find it.”

“Do you think that it’s around here?” the passerby inquires.

“No.” the man answers.

“So why are you looking in this place?” asks the passerby.

“Because here I have light…”

Foolish? Maybe. But actually, this ironic anecdote is a great analogy for how business intelligence is handled in many companies: The wallet is the piece of data or an insight that users are searching for, and the streetlight is the analysis tool used to perform business analytics.

The Relationship Status of IT and Business: It’s Complicated

When users do not have the capability to independently explore and analyze data, to move the light to where they need it, they are left looking in the wrong places. That’s because many BI tools require the IT department to be the middleman between data and the business users, which means IT must be constantly asked to move the streetlight each time a user wants to examine a new set of data. This dependency frustrates IT and drastically limits the freedom of business users to explore data.

Data Exploration Means Changing Requirements

After being asked to change the requirements of a BI project, IT often asks the business user: “So why didn’t you request to place the streetlight over there in the first place?” And the business user rightfully responds: “Because I didn’t know that I’d need the light there.” While hindsight is 20/20, users cannot know in advance where in the darkness a valuable insight or the root of problem lies.

Use a Flashlight: Excel

As long as the amount of data you wish to analys is small and its complexity is low, Excel is the perfect tool for the task. Excel can serve as a flexible and useful flashlight in the hands of the business users to enables them to independently run queries and dig around into the data without any involvement from IT. Excel was a revolution in the world of data analysis, as it was the first tool that allowed everyone to independently crunch numbers–bringing Excel to the fame and sky-high adoption rates it has today.

However, today as the amount of data accumulated by organizations grows exponentially, and the number of databases, in-house platforms and cloud apps that hold the data continuously multiples, Excel has lost its ability to provide a suitable solution to the advanced business analytics challenges. The size of the data is simply too big for Excel to handle, or it is too complex for users to break down into a simple spreadsheet. Therefore companies have started moving to more robust BI solutions that can scale to their modern needs.

Upgrade to a Streetlight: Big Data BI Tools

The more powerful business intelligence solutions are built to handle big data and analysis on complex data sets. But while these BI technologies, such as in-memory solutions and OLAP, seem to be the answer to the temporary needs of businesses, they do so at the expense of the independence of the business user.

Returning to the anecdote, every time a user has to change or adjust their requirements such as adding new data, changing the scope of the data, and so on, the user is forced into long and tedious iterations with IT–asking them to “move” the streetlight. Again, this dependency deprives the business users of their ability to easily investigate data on-the-fly, and creates a slow and inefficient analytics processes.

Light Up the Whole Street: Sisense

What if one streetlight could light up the whole street? Imagine an IT professional asking you to define the scope of data, its timeframe and the type of measurements for your analysis, and you simply answer, “Everything”. Even with most existing BI technologies today that may seem like a ludicrous request.

It is only with the unique and advanced BI technology we have here at Sisense that gaining full access and flexibility to large amounts of scattered data is a reality. Sisense’s ground-breaking In-Chip technology is built to scale to terabytes of data and simplifies the major aspects of data analytics to allow business users to independently perform BI. And no one needs to move around streetlights.

How Sisense Sheds Light on All Your Data

1. Giving IT the Capabilities They Need:

Sisense business intelligence software gives IT two essential BI capabilities that allows them to easily ensure users have access to all the data they need, and that the data is ready for analysis–all without having to approach IT for readjustments:

  • Access to the data – Sisense provides IT with a powerful database technology, what we call an ‘ElastiCube’, that only needs to be configured once by IT. From that moment on, the Elasticube provides on-demand access to all data, from all sources. With Sisense’s built-in plugins that connect to all popular databases and cloud apps, ranging from SalesForce to Google Adwords and from Zendesk to Splunk, joining multiple data sources is one click and drag.
  • Prepare the data (ETL) – After gathering the data from every source, in order to perform any kind of cross analysis you’ll have to unite and unify the data into one consistent table. While this is the most tedious and error prone task in BI, preparation of data is completely automated in Sisense by the ElastiCube.

2. Giving Business Users the Capabilities They Need:

The next two aspects of analytics that Sisense places in the hands of the business users allow them to maintain full independence and control over data analysis and BI:

  • Query the data – While users may know how to run queries in Excel, when it comes to working with databases in BI, they are often forced to rely on someone who knows SQL to code the queries. With most BI solutions, that means back to IT. Sisense allows users to intuitively run any query without coding skills–including advanced BI queries and calculations.
  • Visualize the data – Queries show you numbers, but data visualization in charts and graphs show the patterns that are hidden within those numbers. Sisense provides a large variety of data visualizations for you to choose from to make your reports and dashboards insightful and beautiful.

A Business Intelligence Solution That Does It All

When all the data you need is accessible and prepared for users to analyze independently, both by querying and visualizing the full scope of data, the street is finally lite up. Best of all, users no longer need to settle on searching for insights that are in a limited scope, just the area under the streetlight, and gain the freedom to truly practice data exploration.

Get the latest version of our single-stack business intelligence software here.

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