The Best BI Tools For Data-Driven Executives in the C-Suite

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Data is the new oil, and like oil it needs to be refined before it can be used. Business Intelligence software is the right tool to put data in context when and where it’s needed.

With the flood of products competing for attention, though, even the sharpest executives can fall prey to options paralysis.

Below are the best tools for handling data in every department.

CIO

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are responsible for creating business value through technology.

They make data actionable and translate it for their organization’s specific information requirements.

CIOs need tools that cover as many BI functions as possible to limit operational complexity.

Recommendation: Sisense

Sisense is a comprehensive BI solution that collects data from a wide collection of sources, stores it in one place, allows for intense analysis and customized visualization of results, and makes it easy to share data within an organization.

Sisense is popular with CIOs for several reasons. It provides real time data analysis with a single point of truth.

The software is simple enough for non-technicians to operate.

System Administrators can customize dashboards for different needs and access levels. Sisense connects with most data storage platform and can import data quickly.

Sisense shines as a BI multi-tool, covering most functions a CIO would need.

Here’s a breakdown of standard BI needs and the percent Sisense can handle:

  • Reporting: 89%
  • Analysis: 92%
  • Data Integration: 87%
  • Data Warehousing: 94%

In all of these areas Sisense surpases the industry average coverage ratios.

There are two main drawbacks, however. Sisense has limited workflow options. Admins can customize individual dashboards, but sharing them with subordinate users is difficult.

Sisense also has slightly reduced support options, covering 6% fewer support functions than comparable software.

CMO

Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) track data to ensure marketing priorities are aligned with larger organizational goals.

They have a rainbow of responsibilities which translates into a wide range of potential technology choices like AdWords, HootSuite, HubSpot, and MailChimp.

That makes it hard to narrow down recommendations, but there is one tool commonly preferred by experienced CMOs.

Recommendation: Salesforce

One of the first SaaS CRM solutions, Salesforce has had time to mature into a dependable option for tracking and managing customer interactions. It offers marketing automation and lead nurturing tools, too.

Salesforce is quick to set up and runs in the cloud. Mobile versions for smartphones and tablets let employees work on the go while synchronizing their data across devices.

CMOs with special requirements will appreciate how customizable Salesforce is, with a variety of analytics widgets that can be configured however necessary and intuitive dashboards that provide real-time data.

Because of its maturity and established quality, most incoming sales team members will already be comfortable with Salesforce. Training costs are typically lower while adoption rates are high.

The downside of extreme customization is that it can get pricey. Charges for third-party widgets and extra features add up.

Salesforce can also be too complex for companies that don’t have a high or steady volume of data to track.

It has to be mentioned that Salesforce’s tech support has a reputation for being hard to access.

There are third-party vendors who handle tech support for businesses that have trouble getting through to Salesforce.

CEO

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has oversight over the entire company’s operations. They need enough detail to make informed decisions without getting too bogged down to see “big picture” trends.

Recommendation: Microsoft Power BI

Power BI serves as a “front page” of the various analytical tools being used within a company.

It connects with the majority of analytics tools and databases being used today including Google products like Google Analytics, Microsoft products such as Excel, Azure SQL Database, Oracle, Salesforce, MailChimp, and more.

Programs that aren’t supported can be “bridged” to Power BI by a software developer.

Using these connections, Power BI facilitates data preparation tasks. It helps create and distribute reports throughout the organization.

Power BI’s impressive visualization tools offer a good selection of options for creating and customizing charts.

Power BI operates on a freemium model with plans that start as low as $10 per user. It has a large, active support community.

Because it’s backed by Microsoft, it receives consistent maintenance and upgrades.

The concern with Power BI is that while it’s easy to get started, it can be complex to master. There are so many features that deciding which to use for a specific purpose takes time.

It has trouble importing massive datasets, too, though users can get around that by migrating their data into an SQL server.

Finding The Right Tool For The Job

These are intended as broad-spectrum business intelligence tools that will assist most tasks within a department.

No one tool can do everything, and off the shelf software necessarily focuses on broad appeal rather than niche functions.

To get complete coverage, consider combining tools or building a custom app for more exacting requirements.

Business Intelligence separates major players from little league enterprise. If you’re interesting in upgrading your business intelligence process with a custom-built analytics dashboard, Concepta’s experienced developers have the answers you need. Schedule your free consultation today!

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How a Salesforce Integration Can Help You Run Your Business

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Salesforce is a popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) product that was one of the first to see the power in setting up as a Software as a Service (SaaS).

Salesforce gives you excellent tools to build sales pipelines, create support services and track interactions with customers. However, your other company data can be cut off from the customer information unless you take the time to initiate Salesforce integration to mesh the disparate systems together.

Here are some things to consider when you integrate Salesforce with external systems.

Integration with Current Applications

In today’s IT landscape, many companies have both cloud-based and on-premises applications.

When planning to integrate Salesforce with existing systems, especially on a large scale, you must determine the best “pattern approach.” This method was developed by Salesforce to provide a matrix for you to decide what options are best for your individual situation and quickly became a set of Salesforce service cloud integration best practices.

The patterns were refined by Salesforce partners and developers after many successful implementations. Each pattern has a name, context, problems, forces, solution, sketch, results, sidebars and example that you can review to see how closely it matches your challenges.

Here is an example. One pattern is called Remote Process Invocation – Request and Reply.

Salesforce starts a process on one of your internal programs, waits for the process to complete and then determines the state after evaluating the response it receives from your application. For instance, you might have a separate system that creates and processes orders.

While Salesforce is great at nurturing new customers, what happens when a new client places an order?

In this case, Salesforce needs to contact your ordering program to create a new order.

The ordering app tells Salesforce the order status and number asynchronously, and Salesforce updates those details internally. The order number is the foreign key for any further changes or updates to the order management software.

This pattern must also consider error handling and recovery as well as security. In addition, the call and response must be fast so users and clients don’t have to wait around for the software to update. For that reason, the Salesforce integration best practices for this pattern is to only use it for small volume scenarios.

Other patterns you might use include:

  • Remote Process Invocation – Fire and Forget
  • Batch Data Synchronization
  • Remote Call-In
  • UI Update Based on Data Changes

Integration Paths

Like all major web services, Salesforce has a robust API for Salesforce integration with third-party application systems.

Transactions through the Force.com API have surpassed Salesforce page views and now make up the largest percentage of the more than five billion service transactions on the site every quarter.

But depending on your Salesforce integration project, there are different paths you can take through the Force.com Connect system.

For example, Singapore Airlines used the AppExchange marketplace for e-marketing; Infoworld used a Native Connector for contact management and Symbol Technologies used it for forecasting and order management; Karl Strauss Breweries tapped the Partner ecosystem for order management solutions while Magma used it for account and customer master programs; ADP invested in custom development for order management, and Heald College did the same for student recruitment.

As you can see, there are a number of factors to consider when planning Salesforce integration with other applications, as well as various paths to take to solve your particular challenges.

Salesforce cloud computing is a powerful way to maintain the advantages of reliability and consistency of your current solutions, and then tapping the power of Salesforce cloud integration for a truly effective combination of cutting-edge applications.

For more information, contact us today or visit our website.