It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that data is the principle driver of decision-making for the modern business world. Using business intelligence platforms and software-specific analytics tools, companies of all sizes and industries are collecting massive amounts of information. Countless firms are hiring data scientists in droves and investigating considerable resources into fine-tuning their BI systems, all in efforts to glean actionable insights that can help guide their businesses forward.
But as data becomes more and more integral to all aspects of business, it is important for companies to understand the pros and cons of the BI solutions available to them. For obvious reasons, the BI tools with the most name recognition are industry-agnostic. Feature-rich and extremely powerful, these blank slate-style tools require extensive configurations before they can be effectively leveraged. In fact, it’s this “one size fits all” nature that introduces considerable challenges to using many of the BI world’s most monolithic offerings.
In this blog post, we’ll be exploring how industry-specialized BI solutions (which are often fine-tuned adaptations of generic BI platforms) possess multiple advantages that businesses of all stripes should be aware of.
Minimal Setup and Initial Configuration
Getting started with a generic BI solution can often be a complex, multi-phase process. For starters, integrations need to be established to properly funnel business data into the system. This step may require additional development hours if a business relies on a niche or industry-specific software solution. Then, a comprehensive list of KPIs and other important metrics needs to be compiled. With that in hand, dashboards can then be built out, and once that work is complete, user feedback can be collected. From there, a cycle of refinements can take place until all stakeholders are satisfied.
Depending on the BI solution in question and the needs of the organization employing it, this process can be highly intensive. All together, whether the work is conducted by internal IT, the solution vendor, or a third-party, the upfront challenges of configuring generic BI systems can be costly and time-consuming.
On the other hand, industry-specialized BI solutions, bypass many of these hurdles. Because they are designed to display the exact KPIs their users care about the most, their out of the box dashboards often require zero modification. What’s more, because the developers of these systems are aware of the other solutions their target audience depends on, their BI systems are far more likely to already feature the required integrations. These factors enable users to get up-and-running in a fraction of the time as generic BI systems and save companies considerably on associated IT costs.
Greater Departmental Self-Sufficiency
As previously stated, data informs just about every aspect of 21st century business, from sales and marketing to operations to customer care. All of these departments collect data to gauge their performance and set goals, and as a result, all of them also have their own business intelligence needs. But in most organizations, none of the team members within these departments have the necessary know-how to go under the hood to modify a generic BI solution. Even with the great usability strides these generic BI solutions have made over the years, things like adding new data streams, setting up automated reports, and adapting data visualizations are simply too complex for non-IT folk. And even with thorough testing during initial setup, modifications will eventually need to be made. This means that, in order for their BI tools to deliver the information they need, even after initial setup, these teams will need to constantly ask for assistance from internal IT staff or third-party help.
Industry-specialized BI tools mitigate this problem by providing all of the information teams right out of the box, thereby minimizing the need for modifications down the road. By understanding the industries they serve, industry-specialized BI tools deliver all of the KPIs operations teams care about, all of the KPIs customer care staff care about, and so and so forth. Once again, this gives your IT the breathing room to focus on more productive work and, in turns, saves time and resources.
More Say in Future Development
To support a vast range of users, developers of generic BI systems focus their effort on underlying, big picture-type improvements to their software. Conversely, customer feedback plays a much larger role in dictating the direction of industry-specialized BI systems. For example, if users of a manufacturing-targeted BI system express in large numbers that a certain metric should be included on a particular dashboard by default, the developers of that BI solution are very likely to implement that change in a future update. That’s because those developers know that devoting the time to making that change will benefit a large percentage of their user-base. This dynamic doesn’t exist in the same way with generic BI systems.