Go online to any of the places that talk about data, analytics, and BI software, and you’ll commonly find well-intentioned people looking for the best dashboards and reports for their company. They Google the question, “What’s the best BI software?” or “What’s the best dashboard for my company?” and run off to look at one of the first responses that appear (we’re not talking about you, we’re talking about the other people who do that ? ).
But doing that is just the same as asking someone what their favorite football team is. Everyone has an opinion—it’s typically the team they support the most, regardless of whether they’ve won, have a winning record, or if they’ve even made the playoffs in the last ten years (I’m talking to you Cleveland, Oakland, and Buffalo – #GoSteelers).
People tend to support and recommend the products they use. And chances are they’re not even familiar with the other products available on the market, which means they can’t make a really great recommendation beyond the fact that they like the software they’re currently using.
However, just because someone likes a particular BI software doesn’t mean it will work for your business. It works well for that one particular company.
So, how do you determine what the best BI software is?
First, let’s look at what you shouldn’t do
DON’T visit internet forums.
DON’T buy into the market hype. The hype is generated by vendors, who spend lots of money on marketing.
DON’T base your decision on who the analysts love. The analysts aren’t as unbiased as they come across—large vendors pay analysts quite a lot of money to influence new customers.
DON’T base it on cost, in terms of the most expensive is the best, or cheapest is the best. Cost doesn’t factor into the best BI software for your needs.
So, how do you do it? If you can’t use the methods above to filter the right solution, then what?
How to determine the best BI software for your needs
Determine your use cases. Start with a clear understanding of who your target consumer is. Who will be using the BI solution? What qualities and features are best for that type of user? Are your users developers, managers, executives, customers, non-technicals, data scientists, or a combination of all of those?
Determine the data sources you use. Are you using traditional databases, like Oracle, Microsoft SQL or MySQL? Is your data in the cloud, or is it primarily on spreadsheets and CSV files? Not all BI software is equal; some only integrate with certain types of data sources.
Know the type of outputs you’re looking to get. Are you looking to print financials, produce interactive dashboards, create management style reports or schedule notifications? Not only are there different kinds of outputs that you might be looking to do with your data, but you need to understand the kinds of outputs your users need as well.
What type of analysis are your users looking to do? Are they seeking ad-hoc reporting, interactive drill-downs, statistical analysis or predictive and trend reporting? Is their analysis prescribed or static? Are they looking for key KPIs or scorecards? There are all sorts of analysis that takes place, and knowing what your users will be doing will help you determine the best solution.
When you add these qualifiers to your search, you get a much more accurate answer regarding the best BI solution for your company. Whether your organization consists of a set of developers who know how to write their own SQL code, is leveraging a Microsoft SQL database, or is looking to create interactive dashboards that have predictive qualities, answering each qualifier above will set you on the right path to finding the best dashboard and reporting solution for your business.
You’ll also discover a much different “best of” this way than if you were to go online and ask “What’s the best dashboard?”
Now, applying those qualifiers is good, but it isn’t enough. Adding qualifiers will get you a much better answer, but you can narrow your search even more.
You also need to understand and ask the question, “How valuable is the problem I’m solving for my organization?” This determines the cost of your solution and is valuable for finding the appropriate software for your needs.
You’re not going to buy a bulldozer to dig a three-foot hole. Similarly, you don’t want to invest in an enterprise solution if you only need a handful of common features. You can go online and find software that can do everything you’ve built your use case around, but if it’s too expensive for the problem you’re trying to solve, you might need to find an alternative solution.
At the same time, you need to understand it’s not just the cost of the software, either. Investing in BI also means paying for labor, training, support and all the other factors that come with it.
Once you understand your use case and the value of solving your current problems, then you can go out there and research. You can leverage Internet boards, forums, Google—the usual suspects for finding answers online. You should now have a much better idea of the features that you’re looking for.
Finally, the most important thing to do next is to try your BI solution and evaluate it. Complete a full proof of concept. Actually prove that within your organization, your users can do what they need to do with that particular piece of software.
Once you’ve completed a proof of concept with a trial demo, then you’ll know whether you’ve found a great solution.
In many cases, it’s going to be best not to find just one BI solution that can do all of the things that you’ve listed as your use case, but find the best solutions for your company’s specific use cases. If you do that, you’ll likely save a lot of money while bringing the best solutions for your company—versus getting one monster sized enterprise application that meets every use case for your organization.
Before going online and researching what the best BI solution is, understand your company’s use cases. Understand how valuable it is to you to solve a particular problem, and understand it might be beneficial to get the best software for each specific use case.
Start small and tackle use case by use case before getting a huge enterprise platform that will cost you a lot of money up front—especially if you don’t have an understanding of what the value of a solution is at that point.
Yurbi is one of many potential BI solutions that can help you address certain problems while integrating your data in a clean and manageable way. Try a trial today, or contact us and schedule a demo. We’re happy to help you discover whether Yurbi is right for your organization.