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How to choose a Business Intelligence company

The benefits of a Business Intelligence (BI) tool to your company simply cannot be overlooked in the modern digital age, but choosing the right tool or vendor for your needs can be quite overwhelming. There are so many vendors with great features and services, but you need to find the one best suited to your needs. Here’s how.


What is BI?

Just to provide some background to the BI list, it’s good to have a firm understanding of what you’re working with. Basically, BI software is able to transform your company’s data into actionable insights that help you make informed strategic and tactical business decisions. Using your BI tools, you can actually create useful visuals such as dashboards, reports, graphs, charts and maps that show the state of your business.


How to choose the right BI tool

If you’re in the market for a BI tool, there are many great options out there, but you need one that is best suited to your business. That means taking a look at sort of features you might need and how it will fit into the organisation’s existing structure. Here are eight questions to ask.


     1. Is it standalone or can it integrate?

A standalone BI tool will operate in isolation whereas an integrated BI tool can be access through your company’s pre-existing applications and services. This often makes for a more seamless transition as employees are then using applications they’re familiar with. A customisable solution will ensure easy integration that will grow as the business does. With this, you can retrieve data from various locations such as spreadsheets, ERP and CRM.


     2. How does the BI training work?

Any new BI tool will require employee training so that you’re able to benefit fully from all the features, but certain companies are more flexible with their training services. You’ll need to check what level of training is provided – whether it’s just for the technical or all staff – how long it takes and what future training options are offered. This is important where software updates occur and you need to learn new aspects of the BI tool.


     3. How user-friendly is the BI tool?

For businesses with a cross-section of departments, you’re going to need a BI tool that is easy to navigate – even if you aren’t in the IT department. However, at the same time you’ll want a BI tool that is flexible enough to provide enhanced features for those who require them.


     4. What support is offered?

Check with your potential vendor about the level of support that accompanies your BI tool. If there are self-service capabilities, this can allow your IT department to focus on other tasks rather than attending to BI queries. Your vendor should also have a full support team ready to assist at a moment’s notice so consider asking about their turnaround time.


     5. What visual features are offered?

Data visualisations are a vital feature of your BI tool so you’ll need to search for one that offers the type of visualisations that you’d require. Because the visual reporting tool is so important, you must check that the dashboards are easy to create and the quality of visuals is superior.


     6. Is there a mobile option?

The modern age of remote working makes mobile BI an increasing necessity for businesses. This allows you to keep everyone connected, whether it’s board members and stakeholders or off-site workers. Not only can users access the mobile BI tool, they’ll be able to edit on the system as well.


     7. Do they offer more than product demos?

Many BI vendors will offer you a trial run with the software to get a feel for whether it really works with your system. Product demos are certainly helpful guides, but for bigger businesses, it is worth partnering with a company that will give you hands-on testing so there’s no unexpected problems at a later stage.


     8. What is the cost involved?

While we’ve saved this question for last, it’s generally the first one you’re going to ask your BI vendor! Just remember that the price of your BI tool must cover a number of elements. Firstly, the subscription fee – what will the monthly or annual cost be? Secondly, what are the fees related to expanding your existing BI model if your business grows? Thirdly, are there any fees that you might be unaware of? You don’t want any unexpected costs that push you over budget!


There’s no doubt that investing in a BI tool will completely transform your operations for the better, but to maximise your investment you need to make sure you’re choosing the right company to work with. For the best in Business Intelligence solutions, contact the Canvas Intelligence team today for complete support and insightful guidance.