How To Choose The Right Business Intelligence Tool

Simon To

When it comes to business intelligence (BI) reporting tools, there are so many choices in the market. Deciding which tool to buy and which tool to use have become daunting tasks for management. Here are some tips to help you make a wise and informed decision.

Know Your Business 

When buying a new BI tool, you first need to have a clear understanding of your business needs and business requirements. Always answer these questions before you look into the technology:

  • What infrastructure does your company currently have?
  • Will this new tool work well with your existing infrastructure?
  • Does this new tool require additional hardware?
  • Do you have the necessary skill set in-house to develop BI solutions using this tool?
  • Are your evaluators and decision-makers technologically competent enough to analyze the BI tool without depending on what the salesperson is telling you? If you like to rely on the salesperson, I have a bridge to sell you.

Check Your Solution Expectations 

Keep in mind that the demo always looks great. After the purchase, you might discover that the application you build with the tool doesn’t look as slick as the demo. You might realize that you can’t really build a production-grade “real world” BI solution in a few hours. That’s because your actual business requirements won’t be as simple as a “Hello World” demo. The vendor demo never has to worry about inter-operability, data cleansing, user security and data security issues. You need to make sure you have the right expectations.

Change Your Vendors Wisely 

In this tight economy, businesses are highly competitive. Their need for analytic tools is growing more than ever. And each business’ needs are moving very fast. But very often, your existing software vendor is so busy playing catch-up that it isn’t up-to-speed with the right tool for your business need. When this occurs, it’s common for businesses to look for alternative solutions from other software vendors.

Answer the following questions when considering a change:

  • Are you switching software vendors permanently?
  • If the answer is “yes”, you need to:
    • Go through the aforementioned questions on buying a new BI tool. Determine how much it’ll cost the company to rebuild all the reports and BI solutions with the new tool.
  • If the answer is “no”, you need to ask:
    • Is this an interim solution until the existing software vendor is ready to provide the right tool?
    • Will it be an easy transition when the existing software vendor is ready to provide the right tool? Or will you dig yourself into a deep hole by using this new tool?
    • Does your existing software vendor have a BI solution that, though not perfect, can cover about 75 percent of your need? Will that work for you?

Getting the right BI tool is very important to your business’ success. But getting the wrong tool can be deadly. Make your decision based on facts and not pure emotion. A wise choice will include the careful examination of all your business needs, BI tool requirements and expectations, and vendor solution alternatives.