Data sets can often become a tangled web of information that gets so complicated it hampers BI processes. When you’re pulling information from various sources, it’s not uncommon to discover weaknesses in your company infrastructure that leads to a jumbled ball of data—a virtual pile of paperclips that cannot be untangled without the right visualization tools.
Business moves quickly, and if teams are tracking data in massive, unmanageable spreadsheets, your organization will get left in the dust. Efficient visualization is necessary in order to remain competitive. When users can access dashboards and report through simple interfaces, it gives them real-time access to actionable data.
Not all visualization tools are created equal. The most critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to implementing tool is to know your users. Decision makers should not get sucked into the “latest and greatest” or the shiniest new toy on the shelf. Instead, they should spend time learning just what users need. When it comes to trendy BI tools, most average users will never make use of most of the available features. Instead of overpaying for functionality, seek out feature –rich visualization tools that actually meet the needs and the technical prowess of your users.
Visualization can empower users to generate their own queries and reports, and conduct their own analyses without relying on the IT team. When users have this critical information and ability at their fingertips, it eliminates IT bottlenecks and helps the IT team shed their responsibilities as “order takers” and allows them to focus on strategic activities.
When users have the tools they need to manipulate data in a way that makes sense to them, they can produce the reports and visualizations they need and make decisions far more quickly than if they have to rely on developers to do that legwork for them, allowing the business to maintain a competitive edge.
The visualization marketplace is crowded with providers offering an endless list of options and services, and many claim to have pricing that is accessible to all types of organizations. Before adopting visualization for visualization’s sake, always consider the total cost of ownership before committing to a new tool.
Your up-front costs will typically be easy to understand, but you must also consider the long-term TCO before choosing a BI too. What will the maintenance investment be? How much customer service do you have access to, and is the level of service somehow tied to the type of package you choose? How much will it cost to bring in consultants down the line if you choose to scale up?
It’s far better to know your long-term costs up front so that you can make an informed decision for your business.