Ending 20+ Years of Business Intelligence Struggle Via Agile Systems


Hype about the ‘game changing’ benefits of business intelligence tools from marquee IT brands began more than 20 years ago. Businesses across verticals have been struggling to realize those benefits since then. If Gartner is to be believed, less than 30% of an organization’s potential users actually use BI solutions.

Traditional BI – Complicated, Expensive and Rigid

Low adoption of traditional BI systems is attributed not only to complex stages of implementation, but also their usage. For instance, mapping an FMCG brand’s sales performance to geography, gender, product, retailer etc. for multidimensional insights requires proficiency in a querying language like SQL in conjunction with MOLAP, ROLAP or HOLAP technologies.

Deployment of traditional BI tools is at the cost of an organization’s two most expensive assets – Time & Highly Qualified IT Resources. This works against the real time challenges of working in today’s fast paced competitive environment.

Today’s highly mobile business leaders require insights at their fingertips. Traditional tools fail to deliver them because they are designed to answer pre-defined questions. Incorporating new insights from new data sources warrant significant, not to mention expensive changes to system architecture.

Traditional systems are a strain on operational efficiency

Since BI systems built on the back of traditional data warehouses rely on historical data, it makes countering real-time competitive challenges hard to deal with. The ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) process of updating the warehouse with latest data has the propensity to suffer due to people inefficiencies and faulty processes which can severely impact business processes.

In other words, if you want real-time insights, you cannot count on traditional systems. Needless to say, they are hopelessly inept at frequently updating the information system as it would require regular removal and addition of data.

Although potentially every business user can put business intelligence to good use, they are at the mercy of scarce IT resources for doing so. For instance, retail category managers can be more productive if they can pin down the buying behavior behind their highest selling items. It will help them spot cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.

Agile BI solutions are the way forward

Agile systems adapt to the changing business landscape by complementing rather that strictly replacing traditional systems. Historical insights from a traditional BI system can be combined with real-time capabilities of agile systems to deliver the most potent business insights. They can take full advantage of the benefits afforded to them big data technologies.

Let’s say a supermarket chain decides to use beacon technology to geo-target its shoppers, an agile BI system can effortlessly integrate their real-time browsing behavior to their purchase history and send highly relevant push notifications. So a customer with a regular history of buying sweet spreads will get instant notification about Nutella’s latest offer if he/she is found loitering in the ‘Jams and Spreads isle’. Moreover, decision makers can use interactive dashboards to discover previously unknown correlations like the tendency of Nutella buyers to purchase milk, four, eggs, berries and green tea.

Agile BI solutions facilitate faster and wider user adoption as they require no more technical expertise than operating a computer or a smartphone. Such business tools come at a fraction of the cost of traditional BI systems and require no installation, plus their deployment is effortless and quick. They are a ‘must-have’ for decision makers and influencers who are on the frontlines of organizational excellence.

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