What is Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence (BI) is a commonly misunderstood business phrase that refers to the technologies and processes that support the general subject areas of reporting and data analytics. Basically anything you do to take data from your system and use it to make a business decision.
Nearly every company is faced with this problem in some way. You know all the data is being stored in your system, but the reports available are not giving you what you need. Or you use three different systems, and you want to combine the data from systems to get a report.
Why Traditional BI is failing
- Scope too large. Trying to “boil the ocean”. Because BI projects cost so much, companies will try to justify this by trying to make the scope too large. Most BI projects cost too much and drag out too long. Infodatix way: focused, quick hitting projects at 10% the cost of the “traditional way” that give you exactly what you want.
- Too expensive. The average cost of a traditional BI project including development and licenses is >$100K for a small company and >$1M for a large company. Infodatix way: our streamlined development process equates to about 1/3 the cost of our competition. Software licensing cost: for most projects it’s zero.
- Forcing new software on you with a steep learning curve leaves the benefits of the BI project unrealized. Infodatix way: we know you don’t have time to learn new software. We develop our reports, dashboards, and analytical tools in Excel, and our solutions are the simplest to use.
- Lack of business knowledge by the implementation team. Whether it be outside consultants or an in-house IT team, a solid understanding of the business and its growth and profit drivers are critical to manage a successful BI project. Infodatix way: our consultants are business experts who can quickly understand what you need.
- Traditional BI plan is to create views and cubes of your data. This allows an infinite amount of reporting within those views, but impossible to combine data across views. It’s pretty frustrating when even after a $1M Oracle BI implementation, you still can’t get a report you want. You have a “customer, product, sales, view”, and a “product, sales, margin view” but no way to get customer margin. ARGH?! Infodatix way: we use creative methods in our ETL process and data warehouse architecture that allows you to combine any data element you wish.
The Infodatix Way: Scalable and Pragmatic
We are passionate about Business Intelligence. We have developed a custom process that has driven superior results time and time again. The small business owners or even the managers of a business segment within a large company are being misguided by BI consultants who use a one size fits all approach. Why would you try to sell a BI process designed for a company with a 500M record database to a company with 50,000 records? We use common sense to design a database architecture and BI process that optimizes your needs.
Typically what’s involved in a BI project is something like:
- Get the data. This could be as simple as running a query in a database or as complex as a data integration project to bring together data from disparate systems.
- Store the data. Again this could be as simple as pushing database query results into a hidden sheet in an Excel spreadsheet or as complex as a SQL Server database with hundreds of tables and views.
- Provide a set of canned reports or dashboards. These are usually scheduled and automated. With our programming and development strength in MS Excel, no one does this better.
- Provide a method to get dynamic datasets and/or perform drill down analysis. This is where our MS Office knowledge and flexibility pays off for you. On the simple side, we can set up some tools to get you started and provide a one hour training session on how to use MS Excel pivot table analysis or write your own MS Access queries. On the more complex side, we create custom UI’s for you to create ad-hoc reports.
Review some of our sample projects or request a quote on your project now.
We partnered with ProSidian to develop a reporting system for their client, the US Federal Government. Technologies involved: MS SQL Server, MS Access, MS Excel, VBA.The reporting system integrates data from a SQL Server transaction system and data file exports located on FTP servers.
In this project, we built a complex data warehouse reporting system for a client wanting to bring in data from multiple systems to provide more insights into their marketing campaign initiatives and customer profitability.
We used Google Analytics API, Google Adwords API, Salesforce API to pull data from all three sources. We store the data in an Access database, and provide dashboards and custom reports in Excel.