Out of the Box BI (no assembly required)

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The enterprise space is awash with BI solutions that require enormous resources to acquire, deploy, evaluate, train and maintain. Many of these are backed by industry titans such as IBM, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft. Each cost a small fortune and require a small, highly specialized IT army to install and manage. Newer entrants to the BI arena, such as Tableau and Domo are a step in the right direction but remain costly, with extensive feature sets that are beyond the needs, scope and comprehension of most business users.

Depending on the platform, deployment can be difficult, but in either case adoption is likely to be uneven. Once deployed, IT and financial leadership are anxious to extract the most value from their investment. A CIO at a midsized manufacturer admitted to me that his team “developed a bunch of dashboards and emailed out links to them along with training videos.”

Problem solved, right? Maybe in a parallel universe in which product learning curves are mysteriously flat and IT support has gone the way of the rotary phone. In the meantime, business users will continue to seek out solutions that give them what they want, which, by the way, does not include a user manual.

In a perfect world, business users can get what they need through familiar, existing tools. They should not be required to sift through reams of obscurely named schemas, tables and fields, nor should they be able to peek around corners into other users’ confidential data. Furthermore, they should not be tempted to copy and paste sensitive material into a personal email, or thumb drive so they can “work on it at home.”

What’s needed is a way to securely present relevant data to each constituent in a manner that is easy for them to consume. It must allow for document governance, so that only the right users can see the appropriate data and traceability, to assure it comes from the proper source.

  • For Finance, Excel is required, so they can pivot and chart to their heart’s delight. For Marketing, Sales and Operations, there is a continued need to fortify Excel, but also to evaluate KPI’s through dashboards. Leadership needs high-level indicators – think speedometers, gauges and stop light charts – on demand, anywhere, any time and on any device. Dashboards are wildly popular at management level.

Fortunately, there are solutions on the market that are easy to own, install, secure, manage and use. One such solution is StarQuery Suite from Symtrax. Developed from an IT perspective with business users in mind, StarQuery can organize and deliver data from legacy systems alongside intelligence from your latest cloud-based solutions. The architecture reflects how StarQuery is used: IT builds the maps that securely present the relevant data to each business unit; power users can build and share ad hoc queries for others to use, accessible at any time online. Those with simple needs can just click and consume the data. Executives swipe right for the latest sales figures, delegate information for reporting and frequently use dashboards for strategic decision making. Overall, StarQuery is a great tool for any business user.

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