9 Critical and Overlooked BI Features

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"BI" - what does it mean? It stands for Business Intelligence. What does Business Intelligence mean? Reporting data and numbers mostly. It’s a very simple concept. Get lots of data into a report to review and share. Sometimes I need to aggregate that data into regions, accounts, dates, departments, products, properties, the list is only limited to how you measure your business.

So what makes one BI tool better than another? There are plenty of deciding factors for you to consider. Price, cloud, on premises, vendor location, your company’s locations and staff skill set, what data do you need? But there are some critical real life experience things you must know about and consider.

1. WYSIWYG report design

Have you ever had to work with a reporting tool that didn’t allow you to see how the end result would look in production? Take Excel for instance. When you create a report in Excel, you're building the end product there and then. You’re not working in a development tool like programmers do, but the actual report itself. With WYSIWYG reporting tools like CALUMO, users have much better and easier access to data. They can build their own reports fast and easily without any programming, just like they do in Excel today. There are no specialized skills required!

2. Dynamic Web Pages

These days, most reporting tools use web pages as the front end for report distribution. But many of the reports are a snapshot of data at a point in time. With snapshot/static reports, you need to find the right one. You also can’t interact with the report. With no interaction and having to hunt for the right report costs a lot of time. You open the incorrect report, got the wrong date or cost center, etc. And if you have some new sales data or journals posted, you have to wait for the next set of reports to run! They are usually overnight too.

3. Excel Integration

Is an absolute must! And this does not mean exporting to Excel!! I repeat, Excel integration is not 'export a report or data set to Excel'. My watch can do that!

Integration with Excel means links to your data; it means the ability to interact with the data – drill down, roll up, select different business measures even. Don’t go with the old school Excel Integration!

4. Word and PowerPoint

Even with interactive web reports, report packs are still very useful. I have found over the years that Word and PowerPoint are excellent for great looking reports! And if you can automate reporting in these tools (as CALUMO can) for no extra cost, you’re onto a winner! I have seen the time required to automate report packs built in PowerPoint reduce from 3 days to just 10 minutes!

5. Slice and Dice

Is crucial! What if you have found some data you need to analyze more? 'Slice and Dice' or 'Data Analytics' (to give it it’s new marketing name) is the only way to go. So make sure your reporting tool has slice and dice capability. Users need something that does- and if your tool doesnt, then you'll have disconnected data!

6. Writeback

Is an interesting one. My whole work life has been BI, and all the tools I use are reporting AND planning tools. All the data is stored and reported in one database for immediate review, comparison, and analysis. Also, when you report, you want to plan, budget, do what-if analysis. So that’s what I deliver to my clients.

I have never said, “Oh, use Excel for that” or “Here is partner/tool we can recommend.”  I am just as mind blown by the fact that the majority of reporting tools don’t have planning as people are that CALUMO does both reporting and planning!  So, save money and time and get a report and planning tool.

7. Speed

Pump real data, all of it (or as much as you can) into the selected reporting tool and watch it either soar like and eagle or die a dismal, embarrassing death.  You can’t rely on demo data!  Demo data is always going to be lightweight! I love this test because CALUMO is the eagle. CALUMO soars! The more data you pump in, the happier it is.

8. Calculation complexity

Is too often overlooked in the selection process. Yes, you may not have complex calculations now, but they will come! So with all the data you just dumped into the system, see if you can ground that eagle with some real life calculations!

9. Modules

You never want to hear “Oh, you want to do Ad-Hoc analytics? We have a module for that and it’s $$$$$” or “Yes, we have a model for iPad reporting and it’s $$$$$ extra”.  That’s OLD!! The OLD guys are doing that. The old guys are not even in the cloud properly!  Do you prefer a stinky old taxi or Uber?  Do you grind your wheat by hand in your mill or buy bread from the store? Modules are stinky taxis and the old wheat grinder – OLD, OLD, OLD!!! These are made available by a company who likes to gouge.  Make sure you get a tool like CALUMO where all the “modules” are built-in, and there is only one price for the complete tool set.  And don’t get short changed or conned into modules, they're a scam designed by large software companies to gouge yet more! It should all be 'in the box' - and it is with CALUMO.

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