Press release: Seven questions to ask before adopting a business intelligence tool

Business intelligence is about accurate, valuable data to make powerful decisions with.

Why seven questions and not 10? Because business intelligence (BI) isn’t about rounding up to even numbers — it’s about accurate, valuable data to make powerful decisions with.

There are probably more questions you could ask. But, for businesses already convinced breaking up with Excel is for the greater good, these 7 questions are the most fundamental in your search for the right BI tool.

1. What’s the cost of transition and implementation?
One of the reasons businesses will favour caution, avoiding upgrading to a BI tool at all, is for the perceived cost of transition and implementation.

This is a fair concern since some of the business intelligence tools that might make your shortlist will operate different pricing models.

For example, some BI tools will require that you purchase a ‘Pro’ license for all users, regardless of the nature of their permissions and access needs. Such BI tools will inflate your cost of transition and delay the ROI time-to-value.

Cost of transition and implementation can be significantly reduced with BI platforms like RetailWorx that’s built on top of Power BI that allows ‘view-only’ rights, negating the need for inflated over-investments and license redundancy.

2. How accessible BI tools make my business data?
The answer here should be a resounding ‘very’.

One of the up-front perks of switching to a Business Intelligence tool is that you’ll be working ‘in the cloud’.

For those yet to discover it, that just means your BI dashboard, reports and datasets will be accessible anywhere, anytime on any device. Like checking your emails.

Finally you’ll be able to forget about nightmare scenarios of corrupted hard drives, important spreadsheets out-of-reach on a previous employee's laptop, or data not backed up.

Just make sure to look into where and how your chosen BI tool holds and backs up their servers.

3. How customisable are the data security options?
BI tools like RetailWorx (built on top of Microsoft’s Power BI platform) allow for differing levels of tiered data-security options.

Make sure yours offers at least the following permissions options:

Top-down workspaces
Accessibility to the entire workspace dataset and associated all reports. This is pretty standard.

Individual datasets
Accessibility to granular, individual datasets within workspaces.

Reports
Accessibility to selected reports within a given space.

REMEMBER:
The real benefit of opting for a BI tool with deep-level security and permissions options extends beyond baseline security. Some BI tools with more sophisticated security options will actually present business context for the person they refer to.

Because RetailWorx is built on top of the Microsoft BI, you’ll enjoy all of these permissions and data customization perks to stay secure and enrich your per-user data picture at the same time.

4. What dependence does my chosen BI tool create?
The point of BI is to connect more data points than Excel can, such that you’re building a richer picture of business performance and more robust, agile decision-making capacity.

If your BI tool is clunky to the point that it requires constant, heavy IT interventions, you’ll find yourself babysitting your BI tool instead of having it pull its weight as a tool for business insight.

If you’re perpetually having to spoon-feed it manually with new data, you’ll reach the same outcome. A powerful BI tool should stand on its own two feet, seamlessly serving you a constant flow of deep insight.

5. Does my chosen BI tool increase, or reduce complexity?
Business change is about managing growth and scalability in ways that facilitate further growth and scalability. You can only achieve this if your business infrastructure manages down complexity, not up.

When switching to a BI platform what you’re aiming for is on-demand, near real-time access to performance metrics across all (or most) business functions; finance, sales, product, stock and so on.

If the BI tool you’re sizing up can’t serve the right people the right data easily in a single place, then you’re effectively buying into an Excel spreadsheet with bells and whistles.

6. How interpretable does my BI tool make my data?
If the previous question was about centralisation of insight, this question is about the interpretability of insight within all that centralised data.

In other words, can your BI tool intuitively visualise data such that any stakeholder can make key interpretations they can then act against strategically.

To illustrate the point, imagine heroic quantities of stock-related data. What a powerful BI tool should enable you to do is translate that ocean of data points into visually-intuitive inferences about what all that data means in practical, strategic terms.

If it can’t do that, you might as well grovel with Excel to take you back.

7. Can I scale my BI tool affordability?
Business Intelligence tools aren’t a ‘30-day-trial’ fling. Once you implement, it’ll become inherent to and enmesh with your core business infrastructure.

To that extent, you should tie your BI capability to your business-growth roadmap and factor-in future costs for scaling your BI as you start to reach new growth markers on your journey.

For example, as your departments grow you’ll find yourself adding new users and capability to your BI-assets and this will come at varying costs depending on which BI tool you choose.

What Can RetailWorx Do?
If you’re nearing decision-time in your hunt for the right Business Intelligence tool to carry forward your business ambitions, let us show you how RetailWorx answers these 7 questions and more.

Book a RetalWorx demo and we’ll consult on if and how RetailWorx can dovetail with your BI-tool specifications.

Or view the RetailWorx BI Brochure to discover how you can use RetailWorx to upgrade department-specific strategic decision-making across Sales, Product and Stock.