Expand Business Intelligence Beyond the Boardroom

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Click to learn more about author Daniel Jebaraj.

For decades, business intelligence (BI) has been limited to power users and senior decision-makers. Business analysts have prepared dashboards and reports and delivered them to the C-suite for high-level strategic discussions. Outside of that rarified atmosphere, business has been conducted without access to real-time data and BI. As a software vendor, you can change that paradigm — and delight your customers — by embedding BI into your application.

Your customers understand the value of BI and are looking to take advantage of the massive amounts of data they are accumulating to drive actionable insights. For that to take place, BI has to expand beyond the boardroom and become a regular component of functional, departmental, and team meetings across the organization. Active collaboration needs to happen around real-time data and BI. Stakeholders who interact with data on a daily basis must be given the ability to see trends in order to seize opportunities and prevent issues.

While such broader adoption is desired, it is unrealistic to expect users with differing levels of technical skills to navigate a complex standalone BI application such as Tableau or Power BI. For instance, suppose a human resources (HR) professional wants to analyze employee records. In a traditional scenario, she would have to get IT to export the data for her into Tableau. Once in Tableau, the raw data might look very different from what she sees when working within the HR portal. So, she either has to ask IT to prepare the data for her to use, or she has to learn to prepare it herself. The user interface (UI) in Tableau is unlike what she works with every day in the HR portal, further slowing her down. The tools may be difficult for her to use to get the insights she needs since Tableau is a generic BI platform. All of this causes significantly high friction — and frustration.

Users today have zero tolerance for both friction and frustration. They want to easily analyze data in real-time and use the insights gained to drive data-driven decisions. They want to own their data — and their data analytics. Embedded BI makes that ownership possible. For example, what happens if this HR professional has BI embedded into the HR portal? Now, she does not have to rely on IT’s bandwidth or schedule to export data to Tableau — the data does not have to go anywhere. It is already in the format she wants and needs. The user interface never changes. The tools are designed to deliver precisely the insights she requires. She can even take advantage of dashboards within the HR portal to give her a real-time view of key metrics. Not having to switch applications means she can get BI when she needs it — hassle-free.

Across industries, applications such as Salesforce have normalized embedded BI and encouraged business users to expect the same degree of convenience in all their applications. Business users want to conduct analytics where the data resides, in the applications they are comfortable with, without the necessity of switching contexts to complete their work. By embedding BI into your applications, you make it both easy and accessible for the average user. As you help your customers expand BI beyond the boardroom, you give them the edge they need to compete in today’s marketplace.

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