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BI-tools are not a magic pill

Alexander Polorotov Co-founder , a member of the list of 50 leading experts from around the world on maximizing the return on investment in data and analytics according to Qlik, spoke about the role of data analysis tools and interactive reporting (BI) in the development of companies.

"It all started in 2019, when we created a consulting company for the implementation of BI solutions in large business structures. At the same time, our team developed a special extension for the Qlik Sense platform, designed to track changes in analytical reports. This platform has 38 thousand customers from different countries. Among them are PayPal, HSBC, IKEA, Airbus, BMW, as well as Kazakh Magnum and Kazakhtelecom.

Later, our development was bought out by the American company Motio Inc, which creates specialized BI-products.

From service to training

At first, we were only engaged in the implementation and offered the service, being a kind of "dashboards" — people who drew dashboards. But a good dashboard is not just a beautiful picture, but a tool for decision—making. It is of use only if it answers specific questions of the business user to the accumulated data. For example, how the company's turnover has changed compared to last year in the context of branches and a specific item of goods. 

We realized that it is necessary to build business intelligence competence centers within companies and train employees to use BI tools. So that a conditional analyst or financier who knows the business from the inside can analyze and visualize the data himself. Therefore, we made an online school based on the company, and then began to offer training as a service.

When there is a need for data analytics

Sooner or later, any company whose business is expanding, the number of data requests increases. Modern BI-tools help to get answers to them quickly. At the same time, it is desirable that all data is stored in one place — then they do not need to be unloaded from different programs to create a single report.

BI tools are represented by three vendors on the Kazakhstan market - Tableau, Power BI and Qlik, but the last two are the most popular. Power BI was developed by Microsoft as a natural extension of Excel. Therefore, it is often used regardless of the size of the company. Qlik is more designed for the corporate segment as a single business intelligence tool within large companies.

Data is not for the sake of data

As the company grows, it accumulates more and more data. They need to be centrally stored and optimized somewhere, which means that there is a need to create a repository. Accordingly, you need to look somewhere for specialists who will solve the tasks of data collection, processing, analysis, etc.

Optimization of these processes affects management decision-making. For example, after analyzing the data, you can find out in time that there are a lot of goods in stock that are not in the store, although the demand for it is high. If such problems are not identified, the business will receive less revenue.

Also, a good BI system can send push notifications. For example, if a branch has accumulated the remnants of a sought-after product, and the average check for the day is zero, the system will inform the manager about it and add it to a copy of his manager's letter. 

Such scenarios based on data analytics are configured by a specialist working with a BI platform. This is not a programmer who already has a long list of tasks. Such a person can work in a business unit with minimal involvement of the IT department, satisfying the information needs of the company.

Analytical maturity

In order to understand whether a company needs BI tools, it is necessary to understand three key indicators:

Time to data — the time of delivery of data to the storage needed for creating reports.

Time to report — the deadline for creating a report/dashboard based on data that can be trusted.

Time to action — time to make a decision after receiving the collected information. 

And here the fact whether the manager understands that it is time to transform the company or not begins to play an important role. If he understands, then the search for the optimal solution begins.

Sometimes the initiators of the implementation of the data-driven approach are employees who have shown management how data analytics can affect the result. In an SME, it can be one person who maintains consolidated financial statements. 

At the same time, it is important to understand that the introduction of BI-tools does not always guarantee the growth of the company's revenue, especially at the first stage. They begin to identify problem areas and growth points with constant and prolonged use. 

In other words, BI-tools are not a magic pill for business, and the implementation results will be individual for each company." 

 Source: Telegram Channel - Digital Horde

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