Top Business Intelligence Features to Examine

Updated: May 12, 2010

To get users on board, CIOs need to demonstrate the value of BI, says James Richardson, an analyst with independent research firm Gartner. He suggests companies take a phased approach when introducing a BI strategy and consider choosing tools that have visual appeal to users. This is particularly important when you consider that everyday knowledge workers, instead of just business analysts, are going to need more and more access to BI.

In fact, Gartner analyst Kurt Schlegel expects knowledge workers to create their own BI environments with cloud services and independently adopt new BI technologies, such as Microsoft's PowerPivot for Excel, which lets users create their own analysis tools on top of Excel.

Features that help increase user adoption include user-friendly interfaces that feel like the consumer application interfaces users are accustomed to from Web-based services. Also, look for interactive visualization tools that are easy to use, like Microsoft's PowerPivot. and that make data easier to access by users who aren't BI's traditional statistician types.

As a greater number of users in your organization need access to BI analyses, BI applications need to deliver more kinds of data and reports to meet their needs as well as make them more easily accessible. Gartner notes in its 2010 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms report that there has been a shift in the last year from the measurement of data to analysis, forecasting, and optimization as companies need their BI applications to deliver more accurate forecasts, help optimize business processes, and identify leading and lagging business indicators. To that end, more BI vendors have introduced capabilities to make statistics, predictive analytic models, and forecasting algorithms more consumable in reports, dashboards, and analytic applications. Gartner goes on to say, "We see an increasing demand for tools that enable easier and more intuitive analysis to discover new insights."

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