business analytics

How to decide what business analytics software tool to use

In today’s world, where the digital economy has become the economy, every business benefits by running their business on data-driven insights. Whether you are a startup or an established business, making sure you have the right analytics software tool in place is essential to optimizing your company’s performance, with leaders seeing revenue grow 10-30% more than their lagging competitors. 

Simply collecting mountains of data, however, does not constitute an analytics strategy that will lead to these business outcomes. You need the right analytics solution to help you better understand your customers and operations – but how do you make sure that the one you select will serve its purpose? In this post, we take a look at what factors need to be taken into account when selecting the best business analytics software tool for your organization.

What is business analytics software?

Business analytics software refers to a set of tools and applications that enable organizations to analyze, interpret, and ideally act on data to drive strategic decision-making, improve performance, and achieve business objectives. It enables businesses to transform raw data into meaningful information, allowing them to understand trends, patterns, anomalies, and correlations that can drive strategic actions and improve performance.

Benefits of using the right business analytics software

Business analytics software plays a vital role in every facet of modern business, providing valuable insights that can help companies capitalize on opportunities, avoid unnecessary obstacles, and proactively address challenges as they arise. and enabling. Using such a platform offers several key benefits, including enabling data-driven decision making based on accurate information derived from data analysis. It also enhances operational efficiency by identifying bottlenecks and streamlining processes. With the right business analytics software, businesses can also gain a competitive advantage by identifying market trends and customer preferences, and using these to tweak and tailor their offerings as quickly as these evolve.. Additionally, organizations can allocate their resources more effectively, maximizing productivity and minimizing waste.

Factors to consider when choosing business analytics software

Business analytics software has been around for decades, but in the last few years, advances in technologies such as Generative AI, powered by transformer architectures, the rise of the modern data stack, and the pressing need for all kinds of users, not just technical professionals, to interact with analytics has driven massive innovations across the analytics ecosystem. 

 When selecting business analytics software, it's crucial to consider several key factors to ensure it aligns with your organization's needs and goals today:

1. Scalability and flexibility

The data volumes of today dramatically eclipse those of just a few years ago - and there’s no signs this is slowing down. One of the crucial factors to consider when selecting a business analytics software is its scalability and flexibility. Ensure that the platform was built from the ground up to handle massive data volumes, both those that characterize business today and the growth we will likely see in the future.  Look for features that allow you to scale up or down based on your evolving needs.

2. Data integration and compatibility

With so many different types and sources of data at your disposal, it’s critical your business analytics software can integrate and use this data, wherever it is. Consider the software’s data integration capabilities and compatibility with your existing systems and data sources. It should seamlessly connect with your data repositories, such as databases, cloud data warehouses, and third-party applications. Verify if it supports the data formats and structures used in your organization.

3. Robust data modeling

Analytics are only as good as the model they are built on. When selecting business analytics software, look for solutions that enable you to utilize the data modeling tools, processes, and paradigms that matter the most for your business. Ensure your tool can handle various schemas, such as snowflake or star schemas, giving you the freedom to model data in the way that makes the most impact on your business.

4. Self-service capabilities

Analytics initiatives succeed or fail by their ability to impact decisions in the moment. That’s why the days of dead, stale dashboards are dead. Instead, consider whether the business analytics software offers self-service analytics capabilities. This feature allows business users to independently explore and analyze data without relying heavily on IT or data experts. The best of these platforms like ThoughtSpot Sage are delivering these capabilities through natural language processing, so every employee can engage with data in the same way they chat with a colleague or friend. Look for similarly intuitive interfaces that empower non-technical users to derive insights and make data-driven decisions.

5. User friendly

The usability and user-friendliness of the software are critical for effective analytics, from ad hoc analysis to more formal data reporting. Consider the interface and user experience design. It should be intuitive and easy to navigate, enabling both technical and non-technical users to access, analyze, interpret, and visualize data without extensive training or support.

6. Security and data governance

Security and data governance are paramount when dealing with sensitive business data. Evaluate the software's security measures, data encryption protocols, access controls, and compliance with data privacy regulations. Ensure that the platform adheres to industry best practices and can meet your organization's security requirements. For business analytics tools that have generative AI capabilities, ensuring privacy and security for large language models, and how they are used within your analytics tool, is essential.  

7. Vendor reputation and support

Research the reputation and credibility of the vendor offering the business analytics software. Look for vendors with a proven track record in the industry and positive customer reviews. Assess the level of customer support provided, including training resources, activity in user communities, documentation, and responsiveness to inquiries or issues.

8. Total cost of ownership and ROI

Consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) and ROI of business analytics software. Evaluate the pricing model, licensing options, and any additional costs such as implementation, customization, maintenance, and support. Calculate the long-term costs associated with the software and ensure it aligns with your budget and expected return on investment (ROI).

See how companies like CVS, Anthem, Afterpay, Comcast, and Chewy are getting 289% ROI on their analytics with ThoughtSpot

5 Business analytics software use cases

While business analytics may have been relegated to senior executives for long term decision making, the ease of generating insights today with new technology has created a new imperative to use analytics across an organization, or risk disruption from competitors who do. While every role in every department can benefit from business analytics, here are 6 common use cases where business analytics software proves invaluable:

Use Case 1: Sales and revenue analysis

Sales and revenue analysis is a crucial area where business analytics software can provide significant benefits. By leveraging advanced analytics capabilities, organizations can track and forecast sales performance, identify trends, and make accurate revenue predictions. Furthermore, business analytics software enables customer churn analysis, customer segmentation and behavior analysis, helping businesses understand their customer base and tailor marketing strategies accordingly. It also assists in identifying cross-selling and upselling opportunities, optimizing revenue generation potential.

Use Case 2: Marketing campaign optimization

Business analytics software plays a vital role in optimizing marketing campaigns. It allows organizations to measure the performance of marketing initiatives, track key metrics, and evaluate the effectiveness of various marketing channels. Through audience segmentation and targeting capabilities, businesses can identify specific customer segments and design personalized marketing campaigns. Additionally, return on investment (ROI) analysis helps measure the profitability of marketing activities and allocate resources more effectively.

Use Case 3: Supply chain and inventory management

Efficient supply chain and inventory management are critical for maintaining operational excellence. Business analytics software aids in demand forecasting, enabling organizations to optimize inventory levels, minimize stockouts, and reduce holding costs. It also facilitates supply chain performance monitoring, allowing businesses to identify bottlenecks, streamline processes, and enhance overall efficiency. Supplier relationship management is another crucial aspect where analytics software helps assess vendor performance, negotiate contracts, and ensure a smooth supply chain network.

Use Case 4: Financial analysis and risk management

Business analytics software is instrumental in financial analysis and risk management. It enables organizations to monitor and analyze financial performance, identify key metrics, and gain insights into profitability, liquidity, and solvency. Additionally, these software solutions help detect and mitigate fraud risks by identifying suspicious patterns and anomalies in financial data. Scenario analysis and sensitivity testing capabilities allow businesses to evaluate the potential impact of various scenarios on financial outcomes, assisting in strategic decision-making.

Use Case 5: Operations and process optimization

Efficiency and productivity are key drivers of success in any organization. Business analytics software enables organizations to analyze operational reporting processes, identify inefficiencies, and optimize workflows. Quality control and defect analysis capabilities help organizations identify patterns and root causes of defects, enabling continuous process improvement. Moreover, these software solutions facilitate process optimization and automation, streamlining operations and reducing manual effort.

Use Case 6: People analytics

At the end of the day, the success of businesses comes down to their most important asset: their people. Innovative enterprises like Schneider Electric know this, and have deployed business analytics to maximize the impact their talent can make, while simultaneously advancing their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. 

“Now users are empowered to leverage information in real-time and in the way they need without having to wait for an analyst to provide the data… To be fully effective, you have to support people’s needs at the global and local level, which means setting up data to be available globally but also letting HR deep dive into it and ask the questions that are most applicable to their local environment.” - Peter Ryan, Global Director of People Analytics, Schneider Electric.

These people analytics use cases, once sidelined and deprioritized by many data teams, have become front and center as companies look to manage people attrition and hybrid workforces.

Make more informed decisions with key insights

Business analytics software can revolutionize how your business runs, turning your data infrastructure into business impact. As user demand for more data increases, the old approaches to business analytics, where experts spoon feed curated insights to a select group of stakeholders, won’t suffice. You need to empower as many employees as possible to benefit from business analytics. 

There are many use cases where business analytics solutions are invaluable for businesses today, from tracking customer behavior to employee productivity, but capitalizing on these requires that domain experts can quickly, efficiently, and confidently analyze data. That’s why organizations around the world, from enterprises like Capital One, Cox, and HP, to growth companies like Snowflake and Frontify rely on ThoughtSpot to empower their teams to make the most of business analytics. 

Don’t wait to do the same- sign up for a free ThoughtSpot trial today and see how easy it is to scale your organization's analytics program quickly.