How to Fast Track Business Intelligence

May 9, 2012   //   Business Intelligence, , , , , , , ,

The first step toward accelerating BI access is to examine what you are working with – what kind of information do you have access to and what kind of structure currently exists to provide that information to those users. Our business intelligence solutions help users build out a cube structure (that’s more robust) to join everything together, rather than having users spend days or even weeks copying and pasting information from various sources into Excel or Access databases. With a robust cube, users can then quickly get into the details and do the analysis they are looking for through Excel, various dashboard technologies, etc. Putting a better structure and data model in place is a key place to start.

The process of creating a comprehensive business intelligence solution can be long and arduous. At SWC, we have been utilizing an agile business intelligence approach that allows you to take a project and break things down into smaller iterations, while still focusing on the overall big picture and end goal. This provides end users with production level and workable solutions faster so that they can start to see their reports and data materialize, allowing them to provide more focused feedback for future iterations. This way, they don’t have to wait six months for you to provide data that they realize they don’t want. Working with them to break it down into bite-sized pieces helps promote a quicker turnaround time and also gets them results that they can start working with while you are building out the next iteration.

Along with the previous point, one of the challenges that exist in this process is that users are only used to looking at data from a specific viewpoint. They have a hard time articulating requirements – often, they know what they DON’T want, but aren’t necessarily skilled in outlining what they do want. Breaking it down allows them to get a better handle on their wants and needs, provide something tangible from them to assess and sparks conversations about deeper and more complex requirements that can then be delivered more rapidly because everyone is working toward the same specific results.

In terms of tools, Microsoft SQL Server 2012 is top notch in terms of self-service BI and analytics. It still helps to partner with IT in order to determine what kind of data is needed and put the models in place to secure that data and structure it appropriately, but once those requirements are determined, the users can go in and retrieve unaided. They can create new reports and have better access to the data, in essence allowing any user to create a highly visual, richly interactive, and presentation ready solution. Cutting out the middle man obviously saves time and speeds things up. Since this is part of the Microsoft stack, users can share this information quickly with others using the collaboration capabilities of SharePoint, Lync, Exchange and Office.

To learn more, please join SWC for our next informative Business Intelligence event.