Since I track industry trends and explore exciting bleeding edge technologies, I tend to forget that many organizations are still in the midst of moving from traditional BI to modern BI solutions today. Sifting through hundreds of potential BI platform options from open-source solutions to cloud BI, traditional legacy vendor BI, agile data discovery apps, embedded BI and purpose-built analytics can be totally overwhelming. Most groups have no idea where to start or how to decipher demo-ware from advancements that will truly deliver value and a competitive edge.
In this article, I will begin by reiterating why embedded BI is vital. Then I’ll share several challenges and recommendations to help you evaluate embedded BI solutions. For detailed information and guidance on selecting an embedded BI platform, please download the complimentary BI Buyer’s Guide.
Importance of Embedded BI
In this highly competitive economy, organizations must become insights-driven businesses. By embedding analytics into the heart of core, day-to-day, operational processes, they can turn insights into decisions and get ahead of the competition to close the information to action loop. In February 2017 Gartner included “Extensibility and embeddability” as one of the seven dynamics influencing the rapidly evolving modern BI and analytics market.
Embedded analytics ROI potential can exceed several thousand percent
Given the high ROI potential that can exceed several thousand percent, an embedded analytics platform is a strategic investment. Selecting the right solution from the myriad of existing technologies is not a trivial task. Due to unprecedented speed of technological innovation, the challenge today is making sure strategic technology investments deliver on expected value, last and will scale. To ensure chosen solutions do not fall short and are future-friendly, let’s briefly review common challenges and recommendations. Much more detailed embedded BI evaluation information has been made available in the BI Buyer’s Guide.
Key Challenges and Recommendations
Any organization embarking on an Embedded BI evaluation journey can get overwhelmed quickly. There are hundreds of potential solutions today in the overly crowded market. While choice is always a good thing, sorting through them all to find a solution that not only best meets your immediate needs but also helps you reach your long-term goals – cost effectively – can be challenging.
In a recent survey of 200+ executives, PMs, and developers who evaluated analytics in the last 18 months, most product managers reported that, in fact, they hadn’t made a decision at all. More than 70 percent of their initiatives were either still under evaluation or they chose to keep their existing analytics solution—despite the fact that the initiative was clearly undertaken because change was needed.
As you begin reviewing solutions, keep in mind critical BI capabilities in the digital era include rich embedding of self-service analysis, governed write-back features to update the source data, strong workflow integration, collaboration, and mobile support. To monetize your data, multi-tenancy, white labeling and robust data security are also becoming essential.
Pricing and Business Models
Pricing in the embedded BI market varies widely. There are many different business models from classic OEM licensed to more complicated usage models. It is crucial that you understand the benefits and drawbacks of those models before you go wander down the evaluation road. Here are a few areas you should investigate.
- What is included in an embedded BI solution and what is not?
- Will the embedded BI solution be able to handle future needs and scale?
- Are there any trade-offs to using an open source model such as security patches or support?
- How does relying on a third-party cloud BI or SaaS offering reduce out control, impact our business or our downstream customers?
- What level of effort is required for implementation, maintenance and upgrade?
- Will tools can be used to automate deployments for large scale customers?
Know Your Users
Once you have a better grasp on how pricing and business models align to your strategy, profitability goals and support requirements, spend some time understanding your target users. Keep in mind that one of the key success factors of your project will be adoption.
Don’t assume that you already know your users. Talk to them and engage with them in customer advisory boards.
Don’t assume that you already know your users. Talk to them and engage with them in customer advisory boards. Here are several other tips.
- Make sure you don’t overwhelm users with functionalities they don’t need
- Empower users with capabilities that will help them be more efficient and productive
- Progressively add more functionality as user maturity increases or new needs arise
- Focus on value – simple capability is better than “cool”, useless demo-ware
You are more likely to grow your business and succeed by keeping your embedded BI solution simple and practical.
Once you are able to qualify solutions based on embedded BI pricing models and have prioritized your user requirements, the next step is to do evaluate vendors. Here are some of the key vendor evaluation criteria to consider.
- Provide customizable, adaptable user experience on any device
To guarantee a good user adoption, it is very important that the solution offers a user experience that matches users’ needs and skills. It should have a modern interface and provide users with the ability to easily explore, interact with data and answer their own questions, regardless of the device they use.
- Compatible and flexible data environment
As your data architecture may evolve over time, make sure the solution not only seamlessly integrates with your existing data environment but is also flexible enough to meet your future needs. Areas of investigation include the following: data connectivity (to existing systems either through native connector, vendor specific or custom connector, APIs, etc.), data preparation, data transformation and data enrichment.
- Embeddable and extensible
To satisfy your customers, consider how deep you want analytics to be integrated into user experiences, existing applications, security and workflows. Carefully review solution flexibility around security (authentication, authorization, app and data security), white labeling and customization to make the look and feel of the application your/your customers’ own. In addition, make sure the development and deployment environment offered will allow you to quickly create content, style, embed, deploy and iterate to deliver a fast time to value.
Selecting the Right BI Platform
No one wants to waste time or money on the wrong solution. To avoid making a selection mistake, don’t get caught up in feature bake-offs or be fooled by the allure of cheap BI platforms that are known to be expensive to maintain. Lastly, try not to get distracted by dazzling features that simply don’t deliver on your key requirements.
To expedite successful BI platform selection processes, Logi Analytics has carefully crafted a detailed complimentary BI Buyer’s Guide. The BI Buyer’s Guide helps organizations understand available business models, platform types, provides a long list of potential questions to ask, establishes evaluation criteria, and offers suggested next steps to take. It is invaluable resource for evaluating embedded BI solutions.