When most people think about data analysis and business intelligence, they envision a labor-intensive process that’s dependent on complex systems and over-worked IT personnel. It’s not unlike being put at a table full of ingredients and being asked to whip together gourmet paella. With the right tools and technique, it’s not difficult. But without those things, you’re more likely to create a mess than anything resembling an edible meal.
So, what do many organizations do instead? Most default to letting data go to waste.
Here’s the biggest problem with that mode of thinking: Analyzing data and generating business intelligence shouldn’t be overwhelming. In fact, with the right tools and training, virtually anyone in an organization (seriously, anyone) should be able to convert raw data into business intelligence that’s consumable and actionable. And all of this can happen without having to rely on IT.
Hear that sound? It’s everyone celebrating (including IT).
Why Wasting Data Hurts Your Organization
There are a number of reasons why organizations never reach that point. Some hesitate because the task seems too big (think: drinking water from a fire hose). Others struggle with the challenge of combining data from disparate solutions and converting it into a consumable format.
While both challenges are understandable, neither is excusable when you consider some of the implications of wasting your valuable data:
- Failure to identify key trends
- Inability to make smarter, faster decisions
- Lack of insight into why a campaign succeeded or failed
- Poor understanding of budgets
- Misappropriation of time, personnel, and resources
Put it this way: If you were operating a restaurant and unknowingly wasted 25% of your food every month, those costs would significantly cut into margins and, over time, it might kill the business. Failing to generate business intelligence from your data is no different. If you don’t know a problem exists, you can’t fix it. And if that problem is big enough and persists long enough, it could drag down your entire organization.
A Simple Solution to the Data Problem
The good news? The tools you need to perform data analysis and generate business intelligence are often right at your fingertips. You just need to invest the time required to learn how to use those tools effectively.
If, for example, your team is already comfortable with Microsoft Excel, then you can simply activate or install add-on tools like PowerPivot and Power View to allow end-users to store, analyze, and visualize vast amounts of data — directly in Excel. This makes the process of generating business intelligence much cheaper, but it also makes it simpler for the end-user because these tools provide a similar look and feel to Excel.
That’s not to say that tools like PowerPivot and Power View are completely turnkey — they do require some training and onboarding. But that investment of time (for end-users, it’s typically a day or two; for data model designers, it’s less than a week) is minimal relative to the long-term value that can be derived from your data.
When is the Right Time to Make a Change?
With the end of 2015 approaching, your data can provide invaluable intelligence into your 2015 performance and uncover new opportunities for next year. You’ll be able to create more accurate forecasts, ask for more budget in the right areas, and create a plan to deliver better results.
You’re already in the kitchen. You’re guests are hungry and ready to eat. The ingredients are before you. And all you need is a recipe – aka training – to make a delicious batch of paella.
To learn more about the self-service business intelligence tools available at your fingertips, join us on November 4th for a free webinar . We’ll discuss this issue in-depth and provide a roadmap for helping your organization make better use of your incredibly valuable data. You can register for the webinar by clicking here.