Find out how intelligent your business intelligence actually is

rich heading altBusiness intelligence (BI) was once available only to IT and data experts, but as technology advanced and BI tools were developed for those outside of the IT department, business intelligence moved from being controlled by, and accessible to, the few, to being controlled by, and accessible to, the many. And early adopters benefitted from this. After all, with more insights and information, they could make better business decisions. However, in the rush to "be first" or even to catch up to the competition, some organizations purchased business intelligence solutions that quickly became outdated, while others simply stalled out – leaving the information gathering to their IT and data experts or to their business partners.

Today, business competition is fiercer than ever and having the insights you need right at your fingertips is an imperative. So if you're hoping to empower your team with a business intelligence solution, there's no time like the present. To ensure that you invest in tools that can grow with you, take a look at five important features to look for in your next BI purchase:

  • The Ability to Gather Data from Many Sources: With the power to use an application program interface (API) to gather data from disparate sources, like cloud services, streaming data, on-premises databases, and spreadsheets, you can get a holistic view of your organization in one convenient location – directly from your BI dashboard.
  • Discovering Insights with Real-Time Data: In addition to gathering information from a wide range of sources, your BI tools should allow you to see that data in real time. This way, you'll have the ability to solve problems as they occur and seize opportunities the moment that they arise.

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  • Data Visualization Options: Because everyone processes information differently, having the ability to view data in a way that makes sense to you is important. That's why you should take care to choose a tool that offers BI reporting in a number of ways. From charts and graphs, to lists of numbers, your tool should give you a range of visualization options so that you can view your data in the way that suits you best. And for those who need to convey data to their clients, teams, or supervisors, look for tools that allow you to create reports that present the same data in different ways – this way, you can also present data in the way, or ways, that your audience prefers.
  • Streamlined Reporting: By choosing a tool that has access to all of your data in a single location, BI reporting can be faster and easier than ever. And with tools that allow you to add and remove data with just the click of a button, or apply filters and slicers to help you discover insights and look for answers, you can create meaningful, actionable reports in minutes, rather than hours.
  • Desktop & Mobile Apps: When you select a cloud BI solution, you can access your data on your desktop or laptop, or via an app on your tablet or mobile device. This way, all of the data you rely on will be right at your fingertips – whether you're at the office, working from home, traveling for work or at a lunch meeting with clients. And with a business intelligence solution that is updated consistently in the cloud, your IT team can focus on other tasks and projects.

In order to keep pace with changes in consumer behavior, clients' needs, and trends, and to stop small problems from becoming catastrophic issues, BI tools that deliver business intelligence in real time, and from a range of sources is critical. And having access to the data you need from virtually anywhere is just as important. Fortunately, there are a wide range of solutions available for businesses of every size – now you just need to find the right one for the way you work.

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