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Huey Coelho 7:07 am on Jul 8, 2016 Reply  

7 reasons why you don't get bi tools

As a sales professional, I have the opportunity to connect and speak with a variety of different people in various business sectors – from solopreneurs to large corporations and government agencies. And while they all have different needs, there are a lot of common reasons as to why and when they get BI tools. Or don’t. Here are my anecdotal top 7 reasons why people don’t get BI tools, and tips on when (and how) they should:

1. The Culture of Status Quo

This comes up very often. In speaking with both clients and prospects, I hear things like “our people are not using the current systems well enough,” or “we can’t change our systems because there will be a lot of internal resistance”. Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that with a culture of keeping things as they are, nothing improves. And if staff have an apathetic attitude towards their work, software is the least of your concerns.

Tip: Improve your current processes and find an internal change champion. Someone who’s able to help others improve their efficiency before considering bringing any new systems to the table.

2. The Legacy Tools

Famous last words – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix . The systems may work and keep you in business, but if it’s taking you a long time and a lot more effort than it should to get results, and requires a lot more resources from other people in your company… it might be a good time to look at other options.

Tip: If you persist with an inflexible IT strategy until something breaks, your business could break. So unless you know for a fact that it is a lot more effective and efficient to keep using your early 1990s system, as is – update or upgrade.

3. Let’s Talk Excel

It’s everywhere and everyone uses it. Excel is still the king of business intelligence systems used all over the world. That’s how many reports are shared and analyzed internally, and with clients too. Excel is a powerful system, in the right hands. Having said that, in a recent article on Forbes, Bernard Marr pointed out 5 reasons why Excel reporting is bad for business. Highlighting issues such as hidden data problems and difficulties in analyzing, and sharing insights.

Tips: There’s no one solution that will fit everyone’s BI needs. So, focus instead on understanding your needs and requirements before spending a single nickel on any sort of tool. This means being mindful of your present situation as well as future needs for analytics, sharing and scalability. Also – trial, trial, trial. Whenever possible test drive different software systems you are considering deploying. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for demos. Don’t want to speak with a sales person? YouTube is likely your friend for many of the self-serve systems out there.

4.  The Bad Experience and the Reluctant Buyer

A good (well…bad, really) example of this is when clients have previously bought software without any clear objectives, without having fully understood what they were getting, or how it would be used. As a result many of these software tools are bought but never installed. Or worse, they are installed, tinkered with early on, and then never used again.

Impulse buying decisions like these explain why many companies are reluctant to buy BI software, and why they have a plethora of other software wasting away in their desktops and IT infrastructures. It’s also why many IT Managers don’t want business users having access to their data directly. Lest you muck it up.

Tip: Before spending a single nickel on software ask yourself a few questions, such as:

  • How does this new tool fit into my current work processes? Will we have to make changes to our workflow? If yes, who will be affected, and what can we do about it?
  • Will this give us an advantage over the competition?
  • What’s our ROI?
  • What else should I change/improve before looking for new software? Have we maximized our efficiency with our current systems?

5. Too Busy to Innovate

There will always be people who are too busy to do anything about it. And the number of times I’ll hear that will not decrease either. New projects, other commitments, bad timing, emergencies, etc.… there will always be a reason why innovation takes second place.

Tip: Map and timeline your efforts for innovation and deployment using a long term plan, with short-term goals to be achieved along the way. Get your team involved.

6. Training Effort and Cost

Similar to the status quo, the training effort and cost is another situation where a company’s culture plays a major role. Some companies have senior staff that refuse to learn new technology which invariably forces others to keep using the same tools as well. Thus, the status quo. The other side of this is when speaking to different clients and prospects and I hear things like “we don’t need training,” and “John’s our tech guy and he’s learned how to use the system on his own, so we’re good.” While that might be so, in some cases, it’s not true for most businesses.

Tip: If you are willing to invest money in new software tools – and that’s really all they are, tools, do the same for your staff and invest in improving their skills with the product. You will see results a lot faster, and get a much better ROI overall. In this regard, there are many options from free tutorials offered by the various software vendors to paid training sessions, either onsite or in a classroom environment. Most self-serve BI tools have great forums and communities, online and in-person that you can connect with.

 7. The Budget Situation

It wouldn’t be a complete list without touching on the one item that invariably comes up whenever there’s a product or service involved – price. Even though this often ends up being one of the first issues that comes up in conversation, and it is no doubt important, price shouldn’t be THE deciding factor. BI software tools run the gamut from almost free to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tip: Think about your ROI. Calculate the man-hours and effort involved in keeping things as they are versus investing in new BI processes or software. This will give you a good guideline to draw from.  

What has your experience been with getting (or not getting) BI tools at your workplace?

Eric 5:04 pm on Apr 29, 2016 Reply  

This is the first in a series of challenges for those that believe they have mastered the more complicated aspects of Tableau. The series will call on your understanding of the intricacies of how Tableau functionality works.

For example, did you know that you can perform merchandising affinity analysis using dynamic sets? Did you know that forecasting in Tableau uses the exponential smoothing technique, and do you know how that affects the results of the forecast? Did you know that when using non-additive computations or LOD expressions that reference a secondary data source you may need to have the linking field from the primary data source in the view?

If these questions are news to you, then you may be interested in trying out our Tableau Master Challenge series. We will explore some new facet of advanced Tableau functionality with each post. Even if you can’t solve the challenge, we will walk you through the solution and the logic of how and why the solution works. (More…)

Ray Rashid 3:03 pm on Mar 18, 2016 Reply
Tags: data blending, , data preparation, , ETL   

Have you embarked on a journey to create the most insightful dashboard of all time just to realize you have disparate data? Data Integratiion
Whether you are a new analyst entering the work force or a seasoned business intelligence specialist, chances are you have or will encounter the need to combine data from different sources to properly answer your business questions. The reality is visualization software offers limited capabilities in data blending.

As a follow-up to a prior blog post on the Top 7 Data Visualization Best Practices, I wanted to go into a bit more detail about “visual features”. In the prior blog, we discussed “intuitive” data visualizations and how that stems from your brain pre-attentively processing visuals. While it’s not technically accurate, many people think of pre-attentive processing as subconsciously understanding a visual. However you describe it, it is fast! On the order of 40-50 milliseconds for the average person. To put that in perspective, a single flap of a hummingbird’s wings is about 20 milliseconds. Alternatively, the human brain perceives anything around 30 milliseconds as “continuous”, which is how “motion pictures” work. So 40 milliseconds would be around the speed of a single frame in a movie. (More…)

Eric 3:02 pm on Feb 23, 2016 Reply
Tags: best practices, ,   

Do you want to create the ultimate, useful, intuitive data visual? Whether you are new to data visualization, familiar with it, or an expert, there is a lot to know besides how to use your favourite data visualization tool. There are best practices relating to the presentation of data in visual form that supersede the mechanics of tools like Tableau, QlikView, PowerBI, etc.

If you properly use visual features, you can “hack” your end-users’ brains without them even knowing it. Within the scientific world is a discipline known as cognitive psychology. It deals with the mental processes such as attention, perception, creativity, thinking, etc. One of the processes in that list is incredibly important to data visualization… perception. Perception is the process by which the human brain takes in external stimuli from its environment. More specific to our discussion, perception is the process by which the brain “sees” information in a dashboard. (More…)

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