5 Most Common Business Intelligence Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

Executive summary

Business intelligence is no longer a luxury limited to enterprise-level organizations. Entrepreneurs and marketers alike understand that now, more than ever, it’s important to make data-driven decisions. The secret to making BI tools work successfully for you is a seamless collaboration with operations and IT.

The challenge comes when you try to leverage that collaboration. Like many, you hit barriers and pains with aging BI tools: you struggle with the tech, features, and functionality needed to unlock the data and make it work for you.

It can be incredibly frustrating to lean so heavily on IT when all you want is to give your team the freedom to independently analyze data without being inhibited by the very software you’re using to make fact-based decisions.

Those struggles are finally over. We’ve identified the five most common BI challenges faced by businesses like yours, with crystal clear direction on how to solve them.

Buckle up.

You’re not sure what to measure

This is a common challenge, especially in growing SMBs; you need to pivot and improve a process somehow, but IT is asking for specifics on what to measure, what data you need, and what queries you want to run.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have all the information, you can only provide high-level KPIs without detail. You’re not sure what questions to ask, resulting in several rounds of change requests.

Rather than being able to drill deep into the data with ad-hoc analysis, you must wait for changes to be implemented so that you can do another round of shallow investigation before the process repeats.

So what options do you have?

The Solution – The freedom to ask ad-hoc questions

Agile business intelligence is about flexibility, giving each person on your team the ability to independently discover what they need to measure and analyze it without waiting for IT to provide the data.

You can overcome this challenge by opting for a BI tool with the depth and design that grants users access to all data, as well as data exploration capabilities. This includes:

  • Filtering data
  • Adding new data
  • Slicing data fields
  • Comparing any combination of data

Only with that capability will your team be able to identify the cause of problems without going through endless cycles and IT requests.

You’ve got data, but it’s a mess

In recent years, businesses have been able to do amazing things with data – big and small. The more data you collect, the better you understand both your customers and your business. Theoretically, it should be exponentially easier to improve operations and delight customers by reading that data.

For example, Groove was able to study specific metrics and data around how its customers used the platform. By identifying what they called “red flag metrics” in the data, they could spot at-risk customers and reach out to them before they were lost. This reduced customer churn by 71%.

But your data is only as good as how it’s collected and categorized.

If you want to analyze data from multiple sources or review customer insights, but that data isn’t structured properly for your BI tool, then you hit a barrier. You made the investment for a BI tool, but you can’t use it.

That leaves you with few options:

  • Invest in another tool to clean and categorize the data
  • Spend hours manually cleaning and modeling the data
  • Ask IT to prepare the data for analysis

None of those options are particularly good, especially since you want to get away from labor-intensive data handling and reliance on IT

The solution – Automatic data preparation behind the scenes

Don’t invest in BI tools that can only do a portion of the work. Choose a full stack, end-to-end tool. One that includes a powerful back-end with the ability to automatically process data sets that may need to be restructured.

The ideal solution is a BI tool capable of doing the dirty work for you, by making the data manipulations needed so that you can analyze the data in any format – from raw numbers to visual graphs and reports.

You have the tool, and the data, but then there’s coding

The people on your team most likely to benefit from BI tools may not be code savvy or could benefit from not having to code so extensively. It’s time-consuming to use tools that require more extensive SQL programming and customization to retrieve and work with data.

If you need to expand your team to handle the coding workload or need to rely on IT access your data, you’re creating opportunities for new problems to arise, such as:

  • Bottlenecks, which slow down every attempt to analyze data
  • Greater potential for mistakes and inaccurate data with ad-hoc coding
  • Opening secure, private data to 3rd parties / freelance contractors

The solution – Minimize the workload

The simplest, most effective solution to this challenge is to use a business intelligence tool that requires far less customization to perform the desired analysis. Ultimately, you want a BI tool that grants the ability to create advanced filters and calculations with minimal scripting and coding.

With that built in functionality – no matter the complexity of the analysis – you get accurate results every time without calling in IT. Even better, you get results much faster.

You’re not getting answers fast enough

Making data-driven decisions depends on your ability to ask new questions and get answers quickly. It does you no good when it takes your team a week – or even a month – to get a new report. In some cases, waiting a full day is impractical and could result in missed opportunities.

That happens every day when tools lack the capacity for complex data tasks without getting sluggish. The larger the dataset, and more complex the query, the longer you have to wait. Simple.

Traditionally, you would compensate for performance by investing in huge RAM extensions for in-memory solutions, or expensive hardware infrastructures like a data warehouse or OLAP for multidimensional analysis.

With extensive hardware investment, you also have to hire or contract a team to maintain it

The solution – A tool to get data on the fly

Advancements in BI technology allow you to bypass the more complex and costly solutions. Sisense is a comprehensive and well-rounded business intelligence tool designed to handle large data sets and complex queries in record time.

Rather than purchasing a tool that requires hardware upgrades to support your needs, choose a tool that can handle your needs on its own. Your BI tool should never require a separate team to maintain it, so that you can access your data.

Imagine how productivity would change in your business if you could access data and check KPIs any time you like.

Business intelligence tools that don’t scale with your team

It’s not uncommon for organizations to invest in hardware powerful enough to handle complex inquiries and big data. Unfortunately, as the company expands and teams grow, the increase in users and queries can ake your system grow unbearably sluggish.

As your hardware runs out of memory, the performance of the entire team suffers. Eventually, your computer or server can crash, making collaboration next to impossible without more expensive upgrades.

The solution – Always choose scalability

The last thing you want to do is inflate your BI budget by purchasing or upgrading equipment every time your team grows – or data-related tasks become complex.

Advanced BI technology is now available that doesn’t require expensive infrastructure. Instead, it more efficiently uses the disk, RAM and CPU hardware of your current machines.

No matter the size of your organization it’s beneficial to be able to use off-the-shelf hardware and still get fast results – no matter the scale of data or queries.

Overcome BI challenges – In a nutshell

  • Choose a BI tool with the depth and design that grants your team access to all data as well as data exploration capabilities.
  • Choose a full stack, an end-to-end tool that includes a powerful back-end with the ability to automatically process data sets that may need to be restructured.
  • Choose a business intelligence tool that grants the ability to create advanced filters and calculations, so your team can analyze the data any way they like without writing a single line of code.
  • Choose a tool that’s designed to handle complex queries and large datasets without the need for additional hardware.
  • Invest in a BI tool that has powerful BI technology in the back-end to scale with your data needs as your company grows.

Sisense Business Intelligence and Analytics software provide all the above solutions and more. We’re changing the world of business intelligence with our radical technology by offering the only BI software that allows you to mash-up, analyze, and visualize complex data from multiple sources – without ever bothering IT.

Start your free trial of Sisense now