Let’s say you’re a marketing manager for a mid-sized B2B organization and you want to quickly evaluate which products are selling well, who’s buying them, and where they’re selling best. Traditionally, acquiring that intelligence would mean pulling data from multiple sources and systems, and pinging someone from IT to help you gather the data and create a report to make sense of it all.
Problem is, IT isn’t usually sitting around waiting for your call. Instead, it’s inundated with these types of requests, not to mention their numerous other responsibilities. Will the support you need be timely enough to meet your deadline?
Frankly, there’s no reason to find yourself in this position.
With self-service cloud BI solutions, it’s easier than ever for all people in an organization — marketers, sales reps, HR and finance personnel, and beyond — to quickly pull data from several sources and display it in a way that yields clearer answers and better decisions.
Regardless of your role, this capability is hugely valuable for three key reasons:
- Visualization makes it easier to digest massive amounts of data. Data on its own is valuable, but its impact is amplified when you can quickly turn it into compelling visuals (i.e., charts, graphs, maps, dashboards, etc.). This ability empowers faster digestion of intelligence, and ensures you have fewer organizational blind spots (good and bad). With tools like Microsoft’s BI Suite, it’s likely that you already have this capability. You just need to learn how to use it.
- Self-service BI tools eliminate the need for data analysis guesswork. With this functionality, the days of trying to guess which data, charts, or graphs your bosses or customers will want to see are gone. With self-service BI tools and a little pre-planning, you don’t have to anticipate every question and variation of what’s important because you’ll have access to intelligence that can answer virtually any question in real-time.
- Dynamic data dashboards create flexibility, improve efficiency, and deliver greater depth of understanding. If you’re presenting sales numbers to your CEO and she asks a question you hadn’t considered, Power BI tools are dynamic enough to perform instant analysis in a collaborative way. Instead of promising to look into that question later, you and the CEO can dive right into the data and test a hypothesis in real-time. From a preparation perspective, this makes building presentations much easier, and it makes you look like a data pro.
The best part about these BI tools is that they don’t require a ton of money or time to implement. And they can be used by every team member on staff. Over time, that can have a dramatic impact on organizational efficiency and bottom-line results.
That said, technology like Microsoft’s Power BI Suite isn’t totally turnkey. After you activate the tools and engage IT to gain read-only access to your data, it’s critical to invest in the training that will help your team properly use the tools. For most employees, this requires just two days of training (3-4 days for those responsible for data modeling). And the cost relative to the value gained from using the tools correctly is well worth it.