Business intelligence reporting, when done correctly, can quickly inform you about the latest patterns, trends, opportunities, and risks affecting your company. However, not all business intelligence reporting solutions are created equally. Below are the top three factors to take into consideration before investing in data visualization software.
1. Ease of Use – Data analysis doesn't need to be difficult, but many business intelligence reporting solutions out there are surprisingly hard to use from start to finish. As you first begin exploring your business intelligence options, you may need an outside consultant to help you understand what's available. After choosing a solution, you could need a team of IT experts to plan, deploy, and configure it. From there, your management team may need extensive training in order to use the data visualization software. In addition, whenever you need a custom report, you may need to get IT involved to design and configure it. Fortunately, not all business intelligence reporting solutions are this complicated. Look for solutions that do not require expert help every step of the way. For example, choosing Web-based data visualization software can avoid many of these problems while also delivering superb features and benefits.
2. Data Connectivity – Next, consider how the data visualization software will access your data. Does it require a complicated OLAP server and database management system? Is it limited to just the data stored in your data warehouse or can it connect to multiple data sources? Will you need a dedicated database administrator in order to manage access? Again, ease of use comes into play. At the same time, you'll also want to make sure that security measures are in place so that only those authorized to access certain data can do so.
3. Types of Business Intelligence Reporting Available – Another important consideration involves the actual types of business intelligence reporting the solution offers. Most data visualization software comes with both built-in reports as well as report authoring tools for creating your own reports. Ad hoc reporting is also an option. Each of these report types has its place. For example:
· Built-in reports allow you to look at common data types without having to design a report from scratch. For instance, if you need to quickly generate an inventory on hand report, a built-in report might be available.
· Business intelligence report authoring tools allow you to design your own reports based on your specific business needs. For example, do you frequently need reports on workplace safety hazards? There may not be a built-in report specific to your needs, making it necessary to design your own. Ideally, your data visualization software will include easy-to-use report design tools.
· Ad hoc reporting tools allow you to quickly create real-time business intelligence reports on demand – often for one-time use. For example, are you curious how a specific event affected sales last week? This may not be a report you'll use frequently, but you can quickly mine the data for relevant results as needed by using ad hoc business intelligence reporting tools.
With numerous business intelligence reporting and data visualization software options available, it's smart to factor in ease of use, connectivity, and reporting options.
Frank Poladi is the author of this article about the top 3 business intelligence reporting considerations. He enjoys helping others with learning about business intelligence reporting and data visualization software. In his free time he enjoys taking trips around the world and sharing his journeys on his blog. Make sure to add him on Google+ or follow him on twitter @FrankPoladi.