Understanding the future through BI
By Tiaan Rossouw, Analytics Services Lead at Intervate, a T-Systems company
In order to successfully plan future business strategies and identify areas that need improvement in their operations, organisations need to analyse and interpret data and extract relevant information from it, says Tiaan Rossouw, Analytics Services Lead at Intervate, a T-Systems company.
In fact, the effective use of business intelligence (BI) and analytics could mean the difference between companies that succeed and ones that fail, as this information is key to get ahead of the competition.
In most cases, large amounts of enterprise data are stored across servers, databases, spreadsheets and lately, somewhere in the cloud, and BI solutions can be used to extract this data directly from the data source and produce accurate reports and dashboards.
Fortunately, in this day and age, with everything being stored in electronic format, it has become significantly easier to extract business-critical data. As soon as you access data stores and extract the relevant information, you can analyse what is going on inside an organisation.
BI can be seen as a subset of data analytics. Data analytics refers to the process of analysing raw data to make conclusions about that information.
Meanwhile, BI focuses on taking the millions of rows of data and delivering them in a format that can quickly and easily be interpreted to provide business value.
So, this is where technology-driven BI solutions come into play and take those analytics and throw them onto something visual, in typical cases, a bar graph or a pie chart, so you can see, at a glance, which data is valuable to you.
One such solution is Microsoft Power BI, which brings together data from various sources, and represents it in an interactive dashboard.
Power BI offers a host of functionality that makes it a powerful yet easy-to-use tool to collect and interpret key business data.
The solution runs on the cloud and allows the user to share dashboards with anyone with a Power BI licence, even outside of your organisation. Designing a dashboard could be as easy as a simple drag-and-drop of a visual, or as complex as creating industry-specific queries with R – a powerful language that can be used in Query Editor to prepare data models and create reports.
Users can also easily access the dashboards via any mobile device and – as Power BI is a Microsoft product – it offers seamless integration with any of the other Office 365 teamwork and collaboration tools.
One of the big strengths of Power BI is that it can pull data from almost any data source you can think of. As a Microsoft product, connecting to on-premises SQL Server, SQL Analysis Services server or Access database, or the Azure version of these services only takes a few clicks.
While it does that very well, it also goes further and can access free platforms like MySQL, and enterprise databases like SAP HANA, SAP Business Warehouse, Oracle, IMB DB2 and Sybase, and some of the traditional competitors to Microsoft in the cloud space, for example, Amazon Redshift and Google BigQuery.
From a non-database perspective, Power BI can link to simple data sources like Excel files or PDFs. It can also pull data from online services like Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics and third-party tools like Salesforce and ZenDesk. In fact, you can query anything with an API interface.
But what differentiates Power BI from the hundreds of other dashboarding tools available is probably best summarised by Gartner, which recently again placed Microsoft as the leader in its Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platform based on its ability to execute and the completeness of vision of the product. For a pricing perspective, the cost of Power BI is opex-based, and you only pay for the users that access the service.
The landscape of how businesses are run has changed considerably. In the past, a company would have a board meeting once a month. They would print out stacks of paper and that was how reporting happened. Now, the CEO of company, at the click of the button, can see what any division is doing at any given time. That’s the power of technology-driven BI tools.
About Deutsche Telekom: https://www.telekom.com/en/company/at-a-glance
About T-Systems: T-Systems company profile
About T-Systems South Africa: TSSA company profile.