With the pace of change in the world getting faster every day, companies that rely on gut instinct over data-driven decisions are doomed to get left behind. But the real challenge is speed. How do you get data into the hands of your business people fast enough to support their decisions before they go with their gut? The reality is that almost every BI team out there is inundated with a backlog of requests that never seems to get shorter.
There is good news though. Today there is a new, third wave of BI and analytics solutions that not only provide business people real self-service analytics but also provide BI teams governance features so they can rest easy at night. In today's increasingly fast-paced BI world, it's not good enough to have a world-class BI strategy—you need to implement it quickly so that it solves today's problems. Below we take a look at the top five factors a third wave analytics solution needs in order to deliver analytics 5x faster - transforming your organization into a data-driven decision machine.
Legacy BI Can Take Months to Deploy
If your company is still using traditional BI tools, then you already know it can take months for data to get into the hands of business people. Today most companies rely on dozens to hundreds of different technologies, each producing valuable information that needs to be captured and combined for analysis. This data is probably spread across many databases with hundreds or thousands of tables, so you’ve likely got a team of data experts who spend the majority of their time simply getting that data ready for analysis, segmenting the data into data marts for performance and then summarizing the data even further into cubes and views.
Of course if you are employing one of these technologies then you also know almost all of them are too complicated for your average business person to use. These products are old, clunky and often require at least a basic knowledge of SQL or other forms of coding. So now your data analysts have to step in and spend days building reports and dashboards that your business users can actually use.
And worst of all, the finished product, the reports and dashboards that are delivered to the business, are never sufficient. The data inevitably leads to more questions, which means another set of requests back to the BI team for follow up.
Second Wave BI Tools Are Too Complicated
In the 2000s, there was a second wave of desktop BI and analytics tools that are more self-service in nature and aim to get data into the hands of business people faster. If your company started using one of these desktop products back in the day, maybe for the sales or marketing department, then you probably found this out the hard way – second wave desktop BI and analytics tools often cause data sprawl and governance problems. This is primarily because they only work on a small amount of data, and require BI teams to create separate data marts for each department or use case. As these tools have evolved, they have gotten more sophisticated and more complicated leaving most business people frustrated by the endless number of lists, nobs and clicks. They end up turning back to their trusty data analyst for that new report or chart.
5 Features Your Analytics Solution Needs for Faster Insights
Today there is a new breed of third wave BI and analytics solutions that don’t just claim to be self-service but truly are self-service. They also don’t cause all the governance headaches of second wave tools. Built on modern technologies that combine powerful computing platforms with consumer-grade user interfaces, these solutions alleviate the burden for the BI team and help organizations deliver analytics 5x faster.
But there are a lot of vendors out there claiming to deliver this modern approach to BI. So to help separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve compiled our list of the top five features a third wave analytics solution needs to deliver analytics 5x faster.
#1 - Easy-to-Use Interface
First, your analytics solution needs an easy-to-use interface that any business person can use – no coding or expert data knowledge required. This means that business users are not just logging in and viewing dashboards or charts, but actually doing their own analysis. There are a lot of different paradigms to choose from in the consumer world. But regardless of the one your BI solution has, it needs to be something that any end user can use without training, or you just won’t get the adoption you need (or alleviate that overwhelming backlog.) The best way to think about this is not only CAN your users use it, but WILL they.
#2 - Fast Performance
Second, fast performance is a must have. What happens when you load something on your phone, or search for an answer in Google, and it takes more than a few seconds? If you’re like me, you’ve already moved on to the next activity. We should demand the same level of performance from enterprise applications that we expect from consumer apps. This would certainly increase adoption and make your end users happy. An added benefit is that with lightning fast performance, you don’t have to spend time building cubes, hierarchies, or predefined drill paths to optimize your tool for speed. You can simply connect up terabytes of data and give your users the flexibility to analyze it however they see fit - vastly reducing the amount of time and resources your BI team needs to spend preparing new data sources for consumption.
#3 - High Scalability
Third, your new analytics platform must be able to scale as much or as little as needed. Most BI tools can’t scale to billions of rows without breaking or creating lengthy wait times with each new report load. Today organizations have massive amounts of data, and the volume is only growing. If your solution can’t handle your data volumes today, or in the future, you’re setting yourself up for months of headache and data sprawl.
#4 - Cross-Source Analysis
Fourth, it needs the ability to combine data from multiple sources at scale, and it shouldn’t matter if data is from your data warehouse, cloud applications, or flat files like excel. The average organization uses anywhere from 20 - 100 different pieces of software, all generating valuable data. Adding these new data sources should be easy regardless of where they come from, and combining those sources for cross-source analysis is critical to success. It’s no longer acceptable to look at just a portion of your business. Whether your users are in sales, marketing, or operations - everyone needs to get a holistic view of their company data.
#5 - Enterprise-Class Governance
Fifth and finally, the solution needs to make governance easier, not harder. It needs to eliminate governance nightmares by providing company-wide governance within a single platform. Features like a shared metadata model that can be customized for different user profiles, and cell level security are a must for any enterprise solution.
Fast Analytics is Crucial for Business
In today’s competitive global market, companies can’t just use gut instinct or months-old data to make crucial business decisions. Companies must make timely data-driven decisions or they will be left behind. After all, the market isn’t going to wait for data to get through your legacy or second wave analytics pipeline and into the hands of your business people.
If you’d like more information about how you can do this with ThoughtSpot, take a look at our latest video, 5 Steps to Deploy Analytics 5x Faster with ThoughtSpot. But whatever platform you choose, make sure you're addressing today's problems using these 5 methods.