"BI is about providing the right data at the right time to the right people so that they can take the right decisions” – Nic Smith
Data analytics isn’t just for the Big Guys anymore; it's accessible to ventures, organizations, and businesses of all shapes, sizes, and sectors. The power of data analytics and business intelligence is universal.
In the Age of Information, forward-thinking organizations are reaching exciting new levels by leveraging the capabilities of innovative new business intelligence (BI) solutions. And the success stories are seemingly endless.
Armed with BI-based prowess, these organizations are a testament to the benefits of using online data analysis to enhance your organization’s processes and strategies. These benefits include cost efficiency, the optimization of inventory levels, the reduction of information waste, enhanced marketing communications, and better internal communication – among a host of other business-boosting improvements.
But while BI is a genuine driver of organizational success, getting it right comes with its fair share of roadblocks.
Here, we’re going to explore the dynamics of BI challenges and look at the top 10 business intelligence problems facing today’s entrepreneurs and company leaders. In doing so, we aim to give you an insight into what to look out for and how to tackle the core challenges of business intelligence, one initiative at a time.
Let’s get started!
Entrepreneurs And Business Intelligence Challenges
A particular level of success is noted in the field of business intelligence for small business.
“Generally, we find small organizations are early adopters and have the highest estimates of BI success,” said Howard Dresner, founder, and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services. To grow, remain competitive and be successful, small businesses need to remain agile and innovative. They need to make quick and informed decisions. They need to maximize their limited resources. Entrepreneurs are the cowboys of the business world. They often make these decisions based on intuition and small data. The best entrepreneurs are combining intuition with analytics. They are increasingly communicating and doing business through the newer, more adaptable online BI tools and the cross-organization integration capabilities they offer.
Though BI has helped countless companies make smarter, data-driven decisions, it has yet to gain universal adoption.
With all this BI success, there are still business intelligence challenges facing entrepreneurs that deter this adoption. Many entrepreneurs have run into business intelligence problems with traditional – and often archaic – BI methods. These past BI issues may discourage them to adopt enterprise-wide BI software. Many are also overwhelmed by where to start, worried about cost and effort, and discouraged by stories of BI failures. “Up to 70% of BI implementations end up failing to meet all the business goals," according to Gartner, so it is no wonder entrepreneurs are worried.
The Top 10 Challenges In Business Intelligence
Now that we’ve outlined the dynamics of the inherent BI challenges facing today’s ambitious business leaders and entrepreneurs, let's delve a little deeper.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 challenges of business intelligence in today’s digital world and how you can use modern software to tackle these issues.
1) Too expensive and hard to justify the ROI of BI
Budgets and resources are tight everywhere but especially for small businesses. The price of deploying BI is a primary concern among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are discouraged by the prohibitive costs of acquiring the right software. Also, limited resources make looking for qualified professionals such as data science experts, IT infrastructure professionals and consulting analysts impractical and worrisome. These deterrents are compounded by worries about expensive infrastructure investments needed to deploy BI software. In the past, expensive enterprise BI solutions required huge hardware resources. In addition to increasing the price of deployment, setting up these data warehouses and processors also impacted expensive IT labor resources.
With the rise of self-service analytics through BI platforms, the cost doesn’t have to be a business intelligence challenge. The renowned specialist, Mike Ferguson, has seen how these tools are helping entrepreneurs and eliminating the need for expensive IT support. “There is no doubt that today, self service BI tools have well and truly taken root in many business areas with business analysts now in control of building their own reports and dashboards rather than waiting on IT to develop everything for them.”
Entrepreneurs are turning to business intelligence to improve operational efficiency and save money. They also need these tools to generate a true ROI. This is particularly true if the organization is a startup and needs to answer to a board and investors. Check out this investor relations dashboard example below, part of our management dashboard series:
**click to enlarge**
The right business intelligence tool is a much easier ROI to sell. A primary benefit is the reduced costs of implementation compared to other tools: infrastructure, training, and IT support. Robust dashboards can be easily implemented, allowing potential savings and profits to be quickly highlighted with simple slicing and dicing of the data. Ineffective dashboards can be easily updated to focus on business needs. It can be easy to roll out a strategic, operational, analytics and tactical dashboard so that each dashboard tells a cohesive and focused data story.
Odds are, businesses are currently analyzing their data, just not in the most effective manner. It is time to save valuable staff resources and walk away from static spreadsheets by using interactive dashboards. The ROI alone from hours saved and reduced costs of producing current reports will improve your bottom line.
Agile, innovative and cloud BI software solutions like datapine allow small businesses to acquire the data they need without requiring anyone to shell out major cash for deployment - a clear-cut case for BI ROI. Small businesses can now opt for BI vendors offering scalable solutions that don’t require heavy IT support and can be delivered at the right price point.
2) Lack of company-wide adoption
Disjointed BI practices and failed universal adoption is a key business intelligence challenge. It’s essential to gain buy-in from all stakeholders early on in the process to get everyone on the same page. To do this, you’ll want to develop a set of business requirements and goals. Don’t develop these in a vacuum or just at the executive level. Consult with key stakeholders, including IT, finance, marketing, sales, and operations. Clear objectives and predetermined Key Performance Indicators will help guide a successful BI adoption. Although there are various KPI examples, you should choose only the best fit for your department or industry.
There may be push back. At a small business, a data culture may not exist yet. Departments may be discouraged by a lack of time, data acumen and resources and shy away from encouraging enterprise adoption of BI. They may not see that the adoption costs outweigh the benefits.
They need to see a cloud-based enterprise-wide BI tool in action. The right tool will benefit teams across an organization. These tools allow for a wide range of users to easily connect to, interact with, visualize and communicate their data. Easy drag and drop interfaces require little training and no prior data analysis or SQL skills. Entrepreneurs don’t have to worry about stretching limited staffing resources with extensive training and certifications.
The right BI software can deliver insightful and actionable information without needing a data scientist to collect, prepare and analyze complex data and process it into reports management can understand. Empowering staff across a small business with dashboards they can immediately use encourages adoption and ensures BI success.
3) Analyzing data from different data sources
In a survey conducted by Matillion, 27.4% of the responding businesses stated that reporting/analyzing across multiple systems or data sources was their biggest challenge. Odds are your organization, no matter the size, is collecting data surrounding their business operations. The problem is this data is often spread across a variety of different systems and software. Data may be stored in various ERP systems, CRMs, databases and Excel spreadsheets. With data spread across multiple systems, getting the information you need can be an arduous task.
Entrepreneurs are turning to innovative BI tools to address this business intelligence problem. These tools can easily merge different data sets on the fly without the need of restructuring databases or setting up a data warehouse. This allows small businesses to connect all their data sources with the help of data connectors, and see beyond the numbers, discover new relationships and detect trends to take the guesswork out of important business decisions.
4) Businesses aren’t measuring the right indicators
Organizations are quick to measure financial KPIs, but unfortunately, they often stop there. While these metrics are important, they are often measured at the end of the year or quarter and are fairly reactive in nature. Once again, they are crucial to measure and report on but SMEs should be monitoring more. This is where a comprehensive BI plan contributes to an organization’s success. It is important that a wide range of appropriate KPIs are used to measure progress and performance. This data can be used to benchmark internally or across departments/offices. The data can also be used externally to compare a company’s performance against others in the industry.
An online KPI dashboard software takes the heavy lifting off of SME’s limited resources. The software enables entrepreneurs to visualize and share their numbers according to their own individual needs.
5) Delivering mobile-based BI is no easy feat
We live in a mobile age. With more mobile devices in the world than human beings, gone are the days when producing work, planning, sharing information, or collaborating on projects was reduced to meeting rooms or desktop PCs alone.
Our hyper-connected shift into the mobile age means that there’s never been more demand for mobile-based BI solutions. But with business intelligence-based demand come business intelligence problems.
In a fast-paced, cutthroat digital landscape, business leaders must be able to obtain access to data-driven reports and insights 24/7. While developing mobile-optimized BI solutions can prove a developmental challenge, by working with the right interactive business intelligence platform, it’s possible to log in and pull invaluable insights from mobile devices wherever you are in the world without losing any key features or functionality.
Your mobile-based business intelligence problems, solved.
6) Providing true self-service analytics
One of the biggest BI challenges that today’s businesses face is reaping the benefits of genuine self-service data analytics solutions.
In their infancy, BI-based data solutions were difficult to navigate and only accessible to those with advanced technical knowledge. This most pressing of BI issues meant that the process of extracting actionable insights from your data would be sluggish and fragmented, with information being passed down a delivery line before arriving at your inbox.
Advancements in interactive BI dashboard tools mean that you can access critical insights on a multitude of mobile devices. Today’s best solutions are intuitive, visual, and easy to master, which means that you won’t need to rely on anyone else within the organization to engage with the kind of information that will help your empire flourish.
7) Dealing with the impact of poor data quality
It’s true that we live in the Age of Information, with more data generated in recent years than the rest of history. But while we’re swimming in data, with this raft of insight comes saturation.
There’s so much data available in today’s digital world that sifting through it and mining for the golden information that will help you enhance the success of your business is one of today’s most difficult business intelligence issues.
There are 2 glaring issues with our modern data glut relating to BI:
- Important data being buried deep into systems, applications, and platforms, getting lost or missed as a result.
- BI-centric systems and sources delivering poor, inaccurate, and convoluted data-driven insights that ultimately waste time and money while stunning progress.
To ensure you avoid detrimental data, you need to have strategies in place to promote quality control throughout the organization.
In addition to working with dynamic KPIs that align with specific needs, goals, and initiatives within your business, you should also adopt a data quality management (DQM) approach and encourage others within the business to follow suit.
8) Lacking a clearly defined BI strategy
One of the most overlooked business intelligence challenges facing today’s entrepreneurs or business leaders is the fact that despite the access to a wealth of quality venture-boosting data, there is a severe lack of strategy behind these insights. While this is better than ‘going with your gut’ alone, without a clearly defined data-driven strategy, you are still shooting in the dark.
Working with powerful BI dashboards that promote interactive data visualization, you should develop a strategic roadmap to help give your data direction, fluidity, and add value throughout the organization.
Any solid BI roadmap starts with examining your existing processes as well as defining your key information stakeholders, and it ends with choosing the best tool for the job. To steer you through the process, here’s our 11-step business intelligence strategy guide.
9) Poor BI functionality & interactivity
As mentioned, interactive data dashboards come with a host of built-in features and functions that make extracting insights from your data swift, simple, and effective, thus overcoming one of the most common BI problems of sluggish data sharing processes.
Many businesses face this issue as people need to collect, curate, and analyze data from a number of sources, often from platforms or programs that are incredibly manual and lack interactivity. More often than not, poor processes and functionality lead to inaccuracies, inefficiencies, and costly mistakes that can potentially stunt the growth of the business.
By working with interactive BI dashboards, you’ll be able to move beyond the likes of Excel, PowerPoint, and other static reporting tools and instead gain access to intuitive, interactive visual data that will help you achieve the results you deserve.
10) Sluggish query and database performance
Finally, we move onto our tenth and perhaps most irritating of business intelligence issues: sluggish query or database performance.
One of the most widely-reported BI challenges to date, slow database performance leads to a number of internal challenges, including business intelligence security issues, fragmented processes, poor interdepartmental communication, and severe reporting lags. Naturally, none of these issues are good for business.
Regardless of your niche or sector, time correlates with money – which means that poor query performance or sluggish database responses will cost you dearly over time.
To drive efficiency and overcome this common BI challenge, it’s important to not only quality-control your data and prepare it thoroughly for analysis but also centralize your most valuable insights for swift, cohesive data analysis.
By utilizing the power of robust data storage warehouse and working with high-power platforms that allow you to access all of your business-related insights from one intuitive centralized location, you’ll boost your overall business performance while quashing the roadblock of poor data performance.
Moreover, ensuring your data is cohesive and tight-knit will overcome any potential business intelligence security issues by keeping that data safe and secure at all times.
“You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” – Daniel Keys Moran
Overcoming Your Most Pressing BI Challenges
As you now know, business intelligence challenges exist, and if they arise, you need to do everything in your power to tackle them head-on.
In our digital age, there are excellent tools to address these inherent problems, and you can use them to your advantage. Innovative solutions are all about simplicity & efficiency – and that’s what modern BI offers in abundance.
With the arrival of self-service data-driven platforms, SMEs and startups can now enjoy access to a host of actionable, fast-paced business intelligence solutions, despite lacking the purchasing power of larger corporations. In the modern age, the data-driven playing field is relatively even, and it’s time for you to start competing.
The right Software as a Service (SaaS business intelligence) platform, like datapine, removes the numerous challenges – issues including cost, adoption, disparate data structures, a lack of technical expertise, and many more.
Fewer BI challenges mean that you’ll be able to dedicate more time to doing what entrepreneurs love and do best: growing their business. To see this in practice, you can try our business intelligence software for a 14-day trial, completely free!
And to summarize, here are the top 10 business intelligence challenges:
- Too expensive and hard to justify the ROI of BI
- Lack of company-wide adoption
- Analyzing data from different data sources
- Business aren't measuring the right indicators
- Delivering mobile-based BI is no easy feat
- Providing true self-service analytics
- Dealing with the impact of poor data quality
- Lacking a clearly defined BI strategy
- Poor BI functionality and interactivity
- Sluggish query and database performance
Welcome to the future.