Data analytics will continue to become an important source of comparative advantage for organisations across industries and they need the right resources to make it happen. As companies look towards Business Intelligence (BI) and data analytics platforms to raise business efficiency and implement insight-driven decision-making, the question that always pervades the minds of business leaders is ‘how does one pick the platform that best suits our needs?’
The recent Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics Platforms has spoken and the answer to the right platform is its ability to be easily adopted and widely deployed by an organisation. While most organizations within Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) recognize that big data and analytics are key enablers for business success, business leaders need to address this difficult decision despite the numerous modern BI and analytics platforms available. Here are some tips to get you started:
The easier, the better
The first and most crucial attribute when selecting a platform is how easy and intuitive it is for vendors and end-users to deploy, learn, and use. While ‘ease of use’ is often subjective based on different user skills and expertise, the ease of administering and deploying the BI platform is key to the success in using one.
Self-service platforms that offer intuitive visual-based explorative experiences for users to easily access, prepare, and analyze their data, without the need for coding, are usually the go-to platforms for businesses of all sizes. Automatic data mashups and drag-and-drop functions are some of the tools that can make a significant difference in simplifying usage.
On top of the end-user experience, businesses will enjoy the benefits of having to spend minimal time and resources in training and recruiting the right talent. This is an advantage that leaders should not overlook, especially in Asia Pacific, as analysts have identified that the lack of data-skilled talent is one of the biggest challenges in the region.
Even in Singapore today, we see an apparent shortage of talent as businesses need 30,000 more professionals trained in data analytics; a number that continues to grow. Another fringe benefit is that organizations’ IT teams will not be tied up assisting users with content authoring and accessing analytics capabilities.
However, ease of use does not mean that the platform compromises on support for the more complex types of analysis and data models, rather its functions should be able to allow users to present them far more easily.
A strong support system
To better help users get comfortable and later skilled with their platform of choice, leaders will need to ensure that its chosen platform vendor offers a vast array of learning and support options. From the likes of online tutorials, webinars, and hands-on classroom-based training, extensive learning resources can help educate and empower users.
Having a strong public community of avid users can also go a long way in helping new users pick up tips and can be a useful resource to tap into for research as well. This has an effect of increasing the number of skilled resources available within the company, and inevitably the market as well, creating a win-win situation for both client and vendor organizations.
The platform should also be seamless for both organizations and users when upgraded to newer versions, with no disruptions to the business and its customers. Ensuring that the platform vendor has a reputation for resolving any technical support issues quickly would be another critical evaluation point.
While there are many more attributes that leaders must consider such as platform integration (if the platform can be executed without IT involvement or specialized skills), and pricing and packaging (how the platform pricing model functions with scale), these two core attributes can help set leaders in the right direction when selecting a modern BI and analytics platform for their organizations. The right platform can be the stepping stone to seamless organizational processes, with smarter and impactful business decisions.