11 of the Best Practices for Business Intelligence

Business Team Brainstorming Data Target Financial Concept

Dennis McCafferty of CIO Insight recently wrote an article that addresses 11 of the top practices of Business Intelligence. With Business Intelligence controlling such key factors in today’s companies such as, analytics, business performance management, text mining and predictive analytics, it is crucially important to understand it. Let’s take a look into CIO Insight’s 11 best practices and see if you are already taking advantage of these.

  1.  Bigger Isn’t Always Better: Just because a solution can gather a large amount of data doesn’t mean that they are helping you get the most out of the data. McCafferty thinks that trustworthiness and immediacy are the key elements.
  2. Deliverable Value Over TCO: When your BI solution can deliver specific ROI, you will gain higher buy-in no matter the initial total cost of ownership.
  3. Take Stock of Current Resources: Taking advantage and leveraging the IT that your company already owns to support your BI solution is a top practice. You can then utilize that spending on something else that will make a larger impact.
  4. File-Formatting Resources: Since Business Intelligence uses more than 300 file formats, it is important that you are prepared and ready to use any one of them.
  5. Create BI Policies for Deployment: It is important to have BI policies in place such as how the data is collected, processed and stored. This will ensure higher level of relevance and accessibility.
  6. Go Team, Involve Business Leaders From the Outset: You need to remain on the same page as all of the different leaders and work as a big team to keep IT on the right path.
  7. The Only Constant? Change: Every thing is constantly changing and evolving so this will continue to test your BI deployment at all times.
  8. Limit Initial User Participation: It is better to start out slow and steady when introducing initial users. If not, it can lead to confusion, errors and confusion which will impact BI’s final impact.
  9. Define the Project’s Scope: A BI implementation should be taken in stages and a company must know how many users and functions will be needed over time.
  10. Training Day: In order for your BI project to be a success, you must take the right approach to training employees and make sure that they are properly educated and feel comfortable using the new solution.
  11. Support Self Service: The goal of BI is to pass along the project to the appropriate department. In order to do this you must support the training plans and keep this practice as a priority at all times.

 

Click here to read the original article.

Healthcare and Big Data are Not Slowing Down

Doctor sitting at office desk and working on his laptop with medical equipment all around top view

The days of paper charting medical records are long gone. Michael Morrison gives a good look into why Big Data is vital to the Healthcare industry in his post, “Big Data Remains Hot in Health Care.”

Medical firms did not have much choice in adapting to these changes after the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act in the US in 2009 took effect, this was one of the largest efforts ever in improving patient care, ensuring proficient operations, and closing the gap of medical error. The result has been phenomenal and continues to progress.

With the ability of the medical industry to continuously run analytics, they gain critical information from high volumes of medical records and data. Morrison mentions that with advancements in patient data analytics, it is becoming the most important aspect of implementing medical analysis, which allows for patient care to be personalized. Many common road blocks that are normal in the course of  patient care and health management can be corrected with the use of Big Data tools.

The National Cancer Institute has created a Big Data project that has, through Big Data research, improved cancer treatments. They are now able to learn a lot about the patient’s responses to different medications and choose the best treatment course for a specific patient. The implementation of data solutions across the entire medical industry benefits everyone involved from the provider to the patient. The next time you make a visit to your local doctor’s office or hospital, take a look around and notice how much we rely on the ongoing advances of technology. Where would be now without all of it; how much safer has it made our treatment as well as our loved ones?

Click here to read entire article.

Advice for CFOs: Invest in New Technology

Top Technology Trends for Today’s CFO’s” is another insightful post from a blogger we frequently feature, Timo Elliott. In it he admits that the CFO relationship with the CEO and other business executives leaves something to be desired.  He recommends that CFOs invest in the latest technology, which will increase productivity with real-time updates and continuous forecasting.

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{Image from Timo’s post, link to http://timoelliott.com/blog/2015/07/top-technology-trends-for-todays-cfos.html}

Elliott mentions a combination of new technology including: in-memory computing, big data, the cloud, and mobile.

He homes in on a key point—that finance staff at large companies are extremely bogged down with just the basics of maintaining their financial reports. As Elliott puts it, “Staff have to spend too much time on basic duties and have no time to improve their understanding of the operational measures that drive and impact financial measures.” This lack of insight or understanding of how the operational measures drive and impact financial measures is the root of the relationship problem between CFOs and other business executives.

Elliott suggests new in-memory computing technology because, “they reduce complexity by combining real-time actuals with budgeting and analysis in a single, integrated system. Financial data is stored just once, making almost every aspect of financial operations faster, simpler, cheaper, and more effective.” We couldn’t agree more, as developers of a new in-memory technology ourselves.

The result of improved systems, improved speed, and better data is ultimately a better working relationship between business executives, and a more productive, effective workplace.

Read Timo Elliott’s post here

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If You Think OLAP is Obsolete… Think Again!

If you think OLAP is Obsolete,

A couple things could be possible:

You don’t know what OLAP is.

You haven’t seen a recent OLAP application.

You never tried to do the knitty-gritty of business planning.

You’ve resigned yourself to doing manual labor in Excel spreadsheets and pushing to a dashboard.

OK, so I’ll give nay-sayers of OLAP a little bit of credit, OLAP (historically) can be frustrating.  Especially when some implementations are hardly what we consider to be “online”.  Most of what people are calling OLAP technology is not really connected in a live way to the data source.  There is a batch process to update the data from relational source to a Proprietary OLAP cube.

Now that is where you lose most of the IT people.  Ugh OLAP, really? IT Teams need a proprietary system to maintain like a hole in the head, because they are already underwater just trying to make sure all the delicate connections between systems are running. They just want to know that processes are able to finish running, and that their end-users are eventually served with the data they need.

The new batch of more evolved OLAP systems will address all those painful processes and more.  And how dare anyone call that obsolete?! That is the opposite of obsolete—it is what you need—a platform which allows you to:

1.) Connect the relational source to the “cube” or multidimensional modeling space

2.) Consolidate several data sources

3.) Easy access to consolidated source data in ANY front-end, and

4.) Live, real-time updates in a collaborative environment.

Never heard of an OLAP product that can do all that? Check out the Olation eBook for a quick intro. The most exciting things in OLAP have yet to come!

Business Intelligence Evolves to Serve Users

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Business data and BI software are currently beginning a new phase of evolution. In this new phase, users of business data will be able to collaborate and connect with other colleagues and team members without multiple spreadsheets and laborious processes.

The BI user experiences of past decades are being re-thought and fast collaboration and crossover functionality are the way of the future.  Southard Jones, in the May 9th Venture Beat article Blurred lines: Reimagining the user experience for business intelligence, details how companies are developing new ways of delivering business data and what companies will be looking for in the future.

The article is of interest because it discusses that the business intelligence space needs to evolve to meet the needs of modern businesses.  Currently, there is little crossover functionality between products, and products are rigidly aligned to arbitrary user “roles” like information consumers vs. producers. But, people are not rigidly defined in their roles; they need to be able to answer questions quickly, using their business data. “Blurring” the line between consumers and producers of information is one example of how business intelligence products need to evolve, because blurring that line will make everyone more productive.

Crossover functionality is another topic this article broaches. To quote Jones, “Ensuring success with BI and analytics also means recognizing that different people prefer different tools.”  We whole heartedly agree! People in business should be able to access relevant, informative data quickly, and from whichever tool seems appropriate to them.

His article feels very validating because at least someone in the BI industry sees the status quo is no way to continue.  Jones also writes, “The modern business landscape demands a new approach to the user experience. […] And one that allows interoperability between different products. Our work styles have evolved. BI and analytics should do the same.”

One such software, developed by PARIS Technologies, is taking on this new, modern business crossover and collaboration and use of multiple products with their newest product Olation®. With this kind of technology, companies can eliminate inaccurate data and time-consuming processes that stem from data located in various applications, spreadsheets and databases.  With Olation, data is centralized in a non-proprietary database and access to that information is permitted simultaneously by multiple users in their different applications.  It’s is a game-changer, especially if you’ve been struggling with a typical or limited BI tool. With everyone in the business working from the same source data set, and Olation’s calculation engine doing the formula and calculation work, there is little manual spreadsheet work to be done. Which means analysts can actually answer questions quickly and spend time getting to the meat of data discovery.

Learn More About Olation

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