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Published: 06th February 2017
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Understanding the advantages of BI tools beyond reporting
Business Intelligence (BI) solutions are being used extensively in medium to large-scale organizations that deal with massive data handling. Apart from graphical representation of the core organizational data, BI tools offer drill down capabilities for critical data. Such smart handling and manipulation of data dramatically improves the productivity of the organization. Since most organizations manage multiple data sets in different formats, conventional reporting tools are not as effective in processing such data. This is where Business Intelligence solutions come into play. The article aims at understanding the advantages of using business intelligence solutions over traditional reporting solutions.
Business Intelligence solutions transform structured and unstructured data into meaningful information. These insights help in identification of new opportunities, which helps organizations gain an edge over the competition. However, the basic similarities between the functioning of BI and reporting solutions has led to the misconception that it is just another reporting tool.
Here are the ways in which business intelligence tools outshine an ordinary reporting tool:
1. Flexible selection of data

An organization stores its data in various databases, which necessitates data aggregation and report generation from multiple sources. For e.g. - for a retail store, reports for analyzing the demand for a single product can be achieved using a simple reporting tool as required data is stored in the same format and in a single data source. However, consider a situation where analysis involves multiple data sets and parameters. This is where BI solutions comes in. It helps aggregate data from multiple sources by querying different data sources. Business intelligence tools also allow dynamic data usage to generate reports that are more suited to meet real time requirements.

2. Better quality of reports

Most organizations use multiple databases to store their data and there might be many cross-references or links between the fields of these databases. When using a reporting tool might be difficult to track a missing foreign key or a null reference since it queries a single table or database at a given time. For e.g. - for a cellular operator, to understand their customer base and the usage patterns, for launching a targeted marketing campaign necessitates report generation from multiple linked databases that has overlapping and cross referenced parameters. This can be easily accomplished using a BI solution as it can easily point out data anomalies or neglected parameters to achieve the desired outcome. It also ensures that the data being collected meets the quality requirements by eliminating duplicate values or null referenced relationships from the database.

3. Reduced dependency on IT

BI tools can be easily configured and used by all users in an organization once they have been implemented correctly and the IT team provides the required training. It provides access to reports across various devices, which enables remote data analysis and management. In addition, self-service BI tools are gaining good market adoption, due to their ease-of-use and reduced dependency on external technology vendors for implementation and training.

4. Efficient business operations
Once implemented, BI tools makes it easy for the data analysts to analyze any type of data, which eventually helps gather insights for tactical and strategic decision-making. In addition, they can help in realizing hidden business opportunities, emerging trends, and cost optimization. Report generation is automated using BI tools and data can be analyzed over flexible time frames and as frequently as required by the business team. It also eliminates chance of errors arising from negligence of any parameter or due to the vast number of parameters being considered. A comprehensive analysis of well-structured data eventually leads to productive business strategies.
Thus, with the growing complexity of data and increasing number of channels and data sources such as multiple online channels and social media, organizations are looking at solutions and seeking help of technology consulting companies that can help them leverage this information for faster decision-making and improved organizational productivity. BI solutions effectively deals with big data, reduces the complexities of handling unorganized data, and offers far more flexibility compared to a standard reporting tool. They play an important role in analyzing data, finding errors and inconsistency in data, which equips every member of the organization with necessary information to make smarter, real-time and effective decisions and enables better information flow to derive actionable insights.

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