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Post: Should I Stay or Should I Go – To Upgrade or Migrate your BI tool

As a small business, living in an app-based world, the number of applications we use has grown rapidly. This easily happens with cloud subscriptions and point solutions. We ended up with Hubspot for marketing, Zoho for sales, Kayako for support, Live chat, WebEx, Blue, Google hangouts, and a lot of Excel. We’re also contemplating whether we should use a Gusto or Zenefits HR software when it comes to managing aspects like the payroll, benefits, and compliance, just to see if it will be any easier. Although, we have yet to make a decision at this time. All very good applications as each platform has its own benefits or advantages; however, integration can be difficult and time-consuming.

During this last year, we realized that Zoho had added most if not all of the capabilities we came to rely on into one integrated platform. Since we were a Zoho customer, we started an investigation to figure out if these solutions would meet our needs. During the investigation we asked ourselves a few questions: were the features provided by Zoho best of breed?; what were the benefits to our individual point solutions; did the solution provided by Zoho provide us with an adequate solution to meet our business needs; was having one integrated platform more beneficial than having many separate solutions?

Who would’ve thought the immortal words of British punk band The Clash, “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”? would hold so much relevance for me?

Many organizations face similar challenges with their Business Intelligence implementations. These organizations have either arrived in this world of multiple tools by either strategic decisions or business needs. In fact, Gartner estimates that the average company has 3 to 5 Business Intelligence tools. Is it time for your organization to investigate if any one of the Analytics tools has added the functionality in a new version that would allow for consolidation?

As I type this, the majority of the world has been placed in a mandatory shelter in place. We all know the world will never return to “normal” again. And eventually, we will face a new normal with different business rules. The question we should ask is, does your company have that average of 3-5 tools? And if so, do we really need such a patchwork quilt of BI tools?

As with our Zoho project, the very first step is to investigate and inventory your analytics tools and review capabilities provided by any of the new versions. Your organization would have to answer similar questions as we did during our implementation; does integration outweigh some features provided by individual point solutions?

Although it is important to investigate BI technology and what is currently considered state of the art, moving to a new tool is a totally different ball game and a project in and of itself. Like our Zoho One example for Motio, is it really needed to have the best of breed? Or are the capabilities in one tool good enough to use and reduce the complexity and lack of integration in the BI landscape?

We made the strategic decision to not investigate any new platforms because implementing a new platform would come with a myriad of concerns such as tool selection, training for implementers, purchasing new licenses, implementation, and training for end users. Not only do all of these tasks take time delaying your business from moving forward; they cost MONEY.

Let’s look at an example: You’re an HR analyst who uses reporting daily. Your goal is to bring more self-service analytics to your HR team and you begin to start investigating different BI tools. Since the information used in the human resources process does not change frequently, does a new analytics tool improve your hiring process, exit processes, paychecks, training, and annual review process? Your desire might be to augment your processes by providing new and improved dashboards or maybe implementing some of the new artificial intelligence contained in some of the new platforms. This decision of how to bring these new capabilities to your process places you squarely at the decision point of whether to upgrade your existing analytic tool or implement another.

What does it take to implement a new BI tool?

Changing BI tools may give you the false impression that your business results will suddenly change for the better, but rushing to change platforms without a proper strategy in place may leave you unsuccessful. A fast migration may not always meet your expectations of value, especially when you’re not sure how to move data from your previous platform and implement it into your new one.

Is it cheaper and easier to upgrade to the latest version and expand than to move away? Yes, we think so. So why change BI platforms when you can get the most out of your current platform by upgrading?

Contact us to share what worked for you!

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As the BI space evolves, organizations must take into account the bottom line of amassing analytics assets.
The more assets you have, the greater the cost to your business. There are the hard costs of keeping redundant assets, i.e., cloud or server capacity. Accumulating multiple versions of the same visualization not only takes up space, but BI vendors are moving to capacity pricing. Companies now pay more if you have more dashboards, apps, and reports. Earlier, we spoke about dependencies. Keeping redundant assets increases the number of dependencies and therefore the complexity. This comes with a price tag.
The implications of asset failures differ, and the business’s repercussions can be minimal or drastic.
Different industries have distinct regulatory requirements to meet. The impact may be minimal if a report for an end-of-year close has a mislabeled column that the sales or marketing department uses, On the other hand, if a healthcare or financial report does not meet the needs of a HIPPA or SOX compliance report, the company and its C-level suite may face severe penalties and reputational damage. Another example is a report that is shared externally. During an update of the report specs, the low-level security was incorrectly applied, which caused people to have access to personal information.
The complexity of assets influences their likelihood of encountering issues.
The last thing a business wants is for a report or app to fail at a crucial moment. If you know the report is complex and has a lot of dependencies, then the probability of failure caused by IT changes is high. That means a change request should be taken into account. Dependency graphs become important. If it is a straightforward sales report that tells notes by salesperson by account, any changes made do not have the same impact on the report, even if it fails. BI operations should treat these reports differently during change.
Not all reports and dashboards fail the same; some reports may lag, definitions might change, or data accuracy and relevance could wane. Understanding these variations aids in better risk anticipation.

Marketing uses several reports for its campaigns – standard analytic assets often delivered through marketing tools. Finance has very complex reports converted from Excel to BI tools while incorporating different consolidation rules. The marketing reports have a different failure mode than the financial reports. They, therefore, need to be managed differently.

It’s time for the company’s monthly business review. The marketing department proceeds to report on leads acquired per salesperson. Unfortunately, half the team has left the organization, and the data fails to load accurately. While this is an inconvenience for the marketing group, it isn’t detrimental to the business. However, a failure in financial reporting for a human resource consulting firm with 1000s contractors that contains critical and complex calculations about sickness, fees, hours, etc, has major implications and needs to be managed differently.

Acknowledging that assets transition through distinct phases allows for effective management decisions at each stage. As new visualizations are released, the information leads to broad use and adoption.
Think back to the start of the pandemic. COVID dashboards were quickly put together and released to the business, showing pertinent information: how the virus spreads, demographics affected the business and risks, etc. At the time, it was relevant and served its purpose. As we moved past the pandemic, COVID-specific information became obsolete, and reporting is integrated into regular HR reporting.
Reports and dashboards are crafted to deliver valuable insights for stakeholders. Over time, though, the worth of assets changes.
When a company opens its first store in a certain area, there are many elements it needs to understand – other stores in the area, traffic patterns, pricing of products, what products to sell, etc. Once the store is operational for some time, specifics are not as important, and it can adopt the standard reporting. The tailor-made analytic assets become irrelevant and no longer add value to the store manager.