BI Systems: What They Are, Why They're Needed, How to Choose, and Implement
Data processing and report generation demand effort and time. Employees spend days or even weeks creating a quality report. The question arises: can this process be simplified? The answer is – it can.
Implementing a BI system enhances business efficiency and resolves the issue of extensive data handling.
What are BI systems
A BI (Business Intelligence) system is a program that configures data representation using graphical elements such as tables, charts, or diagrams.
The step-by-step process of BI involves:
- Data acquisition: The program selects data by gathering necessary information from various sources that fit the user's query.
- Data manipulation: The program transforms and processes the collected data, identifying their structure, specific relationships, and order.
- Presentation of results: Based on the processed information, the program generates graphical data illustrations. These can include charts, dashboards, or diagrams.
Business Intelligence services and their key advantages
Working with BI platforms (Business Intelligence platforms) offers the ability to work with data in a simplified manner. The reports generated by the program can be easily shared, conveniently stored, and most importantly, obtaining them doesn't require significant effort.
Advantages of using BI
- Ability to connect a large number of users
All employees within the company, as well as business partners, can utilize the reports generated by the BI system. For instance, a marketer can identify the strengths and weaknesses of advertising, customer choice trends, and collaboratively develop a sales plan with an analyst. Subsequently, partners with provided access can review the results.
- Enhancing efficiency
Comprehensive analysis of reports identifies problematic areas within a campaign and discovers growth opportunities. The convenience of reports created using BI tools enables quicker data handling and implementation of new solutions.
- High speed
Specialists no longer need to manually work with sources; sending a query to the BI system is sufficient. This saves the employee's energy, time, and consequently, the company's money.
- Handling a large volume of information
BI systems enable the analysis of extensive data collected from numerous sources and then present it graphically. Built-in BI tools accomplish tasks that would take a person a week in just a few seconds.
Suitability of BI management systems
Business intelligence services can be beneficial for large and medium-sized enterprises dealing with a high influx of data. However, smaller companies may find it easier to handle information manually, as they have fewer data sources and may not require investing in an expensive platform.
Types of BI Systems
BI platforms vary in cost and data storage.
Based on Cost
An example of such a system is the QlikView business intelligence platform. This system caters to both beginners and experts, offering a pricing structure based on usage. For instance, inexperienced users can utilize free services, while analysts can purchase additional tools.
Most BI systems are paid, although some vendors offer a free trial period.
Based on data location
Suitable for those willing to host data on a cloud server. However, information security is relatively lower in this case, with vendors not entirely responsible for its safety.
Information confidentiality is ensured when using a personal server. An in-house repository prevents the spread of valuable data or minimizes its exposure.
On a rented server Convenience lies in the fact that companies don’t need to maintain additional equipment. In this scenario, expenses are solely allocated towards the rental.
How to choose a BI system
The selection of a system depends on a company's size, goals, and the expertise of its staff.
Ease of use takes precedence. BI solutions become less effective if employees struggle to operate the platform independently. To make the right choice, it's recommended to utilize trial versions of programs. Additionally, the provider should offer information on the system's operation specifics to assess if employees can adapt to the program without extensive training.
The system's market prevalence is another crucial factor. Closed systems, requiring minimal specialized knowledge, may not suit larger businesses. The higher the system's prevalence, the easier it is to hire an employee familiar with its principles.
Moreover, the system should meet the company's specific requirements. The platform's specific features may not be suitable or may be excessive for the purchasing firm. It's essential to use a trial period to determine if the provided methodologies and reports align with the company's needs.
Implementing a BI analytics system
Implementing a BI system involves analysts, developers, and future users. It requires a significant amount of time for training and seamless integration, and companies should prepare for potential costs.
The implementation process comprises specific technical stages.
System users define report specifics and necessary indicators, initially addressing management needs before addressing those of the line staff. Based on this, the BI analyst structures the system and ensures it gathers specific data.
Sources are chosen based on all stakeholders' needs during the setup and implementation process. The usefulness of the provided information is analyzed to decide whether to continue or discontinue using a source.
Data storage, interface setup, and integration with sources need configuration. The BI analyst compiles platform requirements and creates technical specifications for developers.
Comprehensive testing assesses the platform's functionality, accuracy of data, and identifies areas for improvement.
Training is provided for seamless operation. A system is devised to help future users quickly adapt to BI tools.
Examples of Russian BI systems
Luxms BI is a BI system created by the St. Petersburg-based company Luxms. Advantages include ease of working with multiple tools, the ability to create complex dashboards and visual schemes without coding knowledge. Luxms BI's most well-known clients are Russian Railways ( RZD) and Gazprom Neft.
Yandex DataLens is a free analytics program from Yandex that enables interaction with metrics. Access is available through Yandex ID data.
Polymatica offers extensive capabilities for creating real-time dashboards, graphs, and diagrams using machine learning. The program is user-friendly even for inexperienced users and allows descriptive, exploratory, predictive, and prospective analytics.
Polymatica platform interface
Superset is a free, open-source BI system that allows developers to freely add any components. Reports from the program use state-of-the-art visualization. The system is beneficial for companies where experienced developers work.
Superset platform interface
Forsight is a multi-purpose platform with flexible customization options. It offers desktop, web, and mobile application options, allowing remote viewing and editing of reports.
Forsight platform interface
Visiology is a platform for comprehensive analytics, creating interesting visual dashboards in real-time. Users have access to a simple and understandable interface and detailed training. It enables report regulation and analysis of manually gathered data, integrating with popular data sources.
Visiology platform interface
Modus Bl is a platform for analytics in various fields. It employs a comprehensive approach, providing visual data representation, forecasting, and trend analysis. It offers flexible tool management, role distribution for employee accounts, and integration for accessing data from any company sources.
Business intelligence services are tools for collecting, systematizing, storing, and visualizing data.
BI systems are suitable for large and medium-sized companies; it's not cost-effective for small businesses to invest in an expensive platform.
The system can be hosted in a cloud repository, rented server, or a personal server.
The BI implementation plan depends on the company's needs and capabilities.