Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence strategy beyond Excel: Analytics in a data-driven world

In a data-driven world, it’s odd that gut instinct still plays such a big part in business decisions. But why isn’t surprising: Not only do businesses have more data than they can handle, but they’re also using a tool never designed to gather BI (Business Intelligence) in the first place.

That tool is Excel; approximately “1 in 5 businesses are using spreadsheets as the main tool to communicate data internally”according to Bernard Mar (Forbes). Excel is a great tool for certain business requirements, but gathering and organizing corporate data isn’t among them.

Mar explains why spreadsheets don’t work for businesses:

  • They’re not designed intuitively; except for expert users, most people find them difficult to use
  • The sheer amount of information they can contain makes them difficult to analyze, which can result in poor decision-making
  • Spreadsheets can show so much raw data it can be difficult to determine what’s important and what isn’t
  • Spreadsheets are often updated but neither backed up nor versioned. Losing historical data makes it difficult to spot trends over time or see data in real time
  • New spreadsheets need to be created for every new report, which increases the chances of error, inconsistency and incompleteness

Further, many users are running old versions of Excel. So, why are so many businesses using Excel for data analysis?

Drowning in data (analysis)

One of the most common concerns we at 3AG hear from clients is that they’re drowning in data. They have more information than they can access and no efficient, thorough and repeatable way to do so; instead,

  • they have lots of reports and data tools, but no real insights
  • they do everything ad-hoc, which is time-consuming and the reports are only as thorough as the overtaxed staff who runs them
  • they have to work with IT for every new BI project and it’s challenging to articulate their needs

Not many people are capable of making well-reasoned decisions when their heads are under water. In a business context, this leads necessarily to an overabundance of gut decisions—otherwise, no decisions would be made at all.

This is an issue for companies across industries and of all sizes, but mid-size enterprises are most vulnerable. Mid-size businesses are large enough to require superior business intelligence and data reporting, but their resources usually aren’t sufficient—even if they have a clear idea of what BI could do for their business.

Without an expert data analyst running your BI strategy, you won’t get a complete picture of your company’s information. Being able to connect different databases or build data lakes, for example, are necessary to gain meaningful insights, but are not among most business Excel users’ skills.

Taking stock

If you’re not happy with how your company currently manages its data, consider these questions:

  • What kind of data does your company review now?
  • Is it useful? Does it lead to profitable business choices?
  • Is your data complete? How do you know?
  • Are you able to gain useful insights you don’t know to look for?
  • Are you using BI tools ad-hoc?
  • Do you run reports irregularly because starting from scratch is a hassle?
  • Have you considered other BI options? If not, why not?

If concerns about time and money are keeping you from researching or adopting a more sophisticated BI solution, that’s understandable. It might also be fatal. In the age of big data, the price of mismanaging, losing or misunderstanding corporate data will be incalculable in the long run—and perhaps crippling in the short term.

Finding your BI (and BA) experts

If your in-house support isn’t sufficient, consider working with a respected business intelligence and business analytics (BA) company. (BA comprises the technologies and skills used to analyze both historical and current data, to inform business planning now and predict future business requirements.)

The BI/BA partner worth your investment should be able to:

  • help you build a BI strategy to meet your specific goals and needs
  • organize and consolidate all your data in one simple dashboard
  • set you up to access current and usable insights that are easily shared with your teams
  • make sure business stakeholders and technical experts can communicate and work with each other, so everyone’s needs are understood and met
  • provide the data infrastructure you need now, in a format that may be easily upgraded to meet later needs

An expert BI/BA partner should take you from consolidating and analyzing old data, to analyzing streamlined data sources in real time and finally to predictive analytics—so you’ll be set up for a very profitable and far-reaching future.

This article originally appeared here. Republished with permission. Submit your copyright complaints here.

  1. DataH 1 year ago

    We are seeing an increase in businesses seeking specialized skills to help address challenges that arose with the era of big data. The open source HPCC Systems platform helps to fill this gap by allowing data analysts themselves to own the complete data life cycle. Designed by data scientists, the ECL programming language is declarative and expresses data algorithms across the entire HPCC Systems platform. Their built-in analytics libraries for Machine Learning and BI integration provide a complete integrated solution from data ingestion and data processing to data delivery. HPCC Systems provides proven solutions to handle what are now called Big Data problems, and have been doing so for more than a decade. Their free online introductory courses allow for students, academia and other developers to quickly get started. For more info visit:

  2. gamefly free trial 8 months ago

    At this time it seems like WordPress is the best blogging platform available right
    now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

  3. gamefly free trial 8 months ago

    There is definately a lot to find out about this issue. I really like all
    of the points you made.

  4. descargar facebook 5 months ago

    I am sure this post has touched all the internet users, its really really
    pleasant paragraph on building up new website.

  5. 2 months ago

    It’s very simple to find out any matter on net
    as compared to textbooks, as I found this article at this site.

  6. quest bars cheap 2 months ago

    Fastidious respond in return of this matter with real
    arguments and describing everything concerning that.

  7. ps4 games 2 months ago

    I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet users,
    its really really good paragraph on building up new web

  8. ps4 games 2 months ago

    Saved as a favorite, I like your site!

  9. coconut oil 1 month ago

    What’s up, for all time i used to check weblog posts here early
    in the daylight, for the reason that i love to learn more and more.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like

Pin It on Pinterest