Are you are an innovator? Most business people want to say yes. They work hard and want their organisation to succeed – but are short on time, and can’t hold all the skills their business needs. Most innovators also thrive on data-driven decision-making. When they know what’s what, they can make the best decisions. Data is increasingly critical to accomplishing the most important objectives and staying ahead of the competition.

Innovators often understand the details and nuances of the marketplace but don’t necessarily have the word ‘analyst’ in their title. They use software like Microsoft Excel or business intelligence (BI) tools and have seen how much time it takes to pull in data from different sources, find insights, and share reports or dashboards. Innovators are data users, but often without the skills of the analyst. Busy innovators often find:

  • They want to be personally, and have everyone around them, self-reliant
  • They work with all kinds of data, from Hadoop to data warehouses to spreadsheets
  • That the whole organisation has data needs, from executives to analysts, across departments and geographic locations, in the office or on-the-go
  • That they just want user-friendly, visual interfaces to spot outliers and trends in data.

Self Reliance

Analytics and reporting should be produced by the people using the results. IT plays a crucial role in setting up the data access and security infrastructure, but business people create reports and dashboards using software that is easy to learn. IT can support the product with existing infrastructure and fewer staff, to free personnel resources for new projects. Innovators can connect to data and create dashboards without support from developers through rapid-fire business analytics tools.

Large & Diverse Data

Data today is not getting smaller: its absolute size is growing, it lives in a greater variety of data stores, and more people need to use it. People must combine data easily from different systems and from all parts of the business. It must work with data of any size, from hundreds of terabytes to petabytes and more. It must work with unstructured or raw data. And of course, it must work with the spreadsheets and text files that exist in every business.

Ubiquitous Collaboration

Solutions must enable colleagues and authorised partners to access the data and communicate, with the right group- and role-based data security. It must scale from departments to business units and across the largest enterprises. Innovators should be able to click once to publish to the full set of end-user devices, from desktops to mobile. People using corporate dashboards must be able to log in and get rich interactivity right in a browser.

Visual Discovery

Innovators’ time needs match with a visual approach so that they and their colleagues are thinking about their questions and their data — not about how to use software. Innovators need to spot anomalies and outliers instantly, versus sorting through pages of spreadsheets.

Innovators appreciate good time management. Everyone wants to manage time better. Business users and IT are impatient. When decision makers can use rapid-fire business intelligence they’re not stuck in a major projects that takes months before they see the first real-life product that business users can actually use. And they no longer have to get stuck in the quagmire of creating and sharing reports in Excel!

Self-reliant BI provides business users with a way to answer questions about the business and adapt to change. It requires few resources from IT to install or maintain. IT sets up the data architecture, security, and access controls. Business people serve themselves reports and dashboards with data of any size or format within the controls established by IT. But the real problem is that the people who have to make decisions, even everyday decisions, cannot independently and directly ask the questions they need answered when needed. They are typically dependent on an undersized group of BI developers who have their own schedules.

So, what are the elements to look for with respect to self-reliant BI? Look for a system that:

  • Allows anyone to easily build dashboards and reports from disparate data sources and make modifications on-the-fly
  • Empowers ‘informed sceptics’ who find actionable insights from the combination of their business experience and analytics.