Business intelligence tools are what allow you to access invaluable insights about your customers as well as other important data. While such tools have, historically, required an on-premise setup, there is now a move towards cloud business intelligence.
We’re going to explore the question “What is cloud business intelligence” as well as consider its benefits too. The last 12 months have seen 69% of companies accelerate their move towards the cloud so now is the time to act to ensure that you’re not left behind. If you’re looking to learn more, then we’re here to help.
What is cloud business intelligence?
If you already have an understanding of just what business intelligence is, then there’s a good chance that you’ll find cloud business intelligence tools easy to get a grasp of. When it comes to business Intelligence (BI) this is all about gaining insight into your business so that any threats and opportunities can be identified. It’s about utilising market intelligence so that the best decisions can be made going forward.
When it comes to considering a business intelligence cloud service, the next part of the equation is the cloud. Now, the cloud is easy to understand to the extent that is required to understand cloud business intelligence. In simple terms, the cloud is, in essence, the internet. Rather than saving something to your computer, you instead save it on internet servers. This makes the information accessible from any device that has an internet connection.
When looking at traditional BI tools, the issues that users were facing were based on scalability and the need to provide a seamless experience. The obvious solution to this was to integrate BI with cloud computing. The name given to this was more obvious than the solution: rather than just being referred to as BI it was now referred to as cloud business intelligence.
Due to the fact that a business intelligence cloud service leverages the infrastructure of the cloud, it can be accessed by numerous users all at the same time. Regardless of the number of users, speed and performance remain unaffected.
The benefits of cloud business intelligence
When it comes to the benefits, these are many. Nevertheless we’ll focus on 5 main ones you should be aware of:
1) Top performance and reliability
Cloud infrastructure isn’t a one size fits all approach. It can be configured to allow it to meet the needs of end users. There are cloud providers that offer multi-tenant setups and here different groups of users are able to access data via different points. Then there are single-tenant environments – these deliver even better performance and offer higher levels of security to users.
2) Instant deployment
Setup time is minimal due to the fact that cloud services will often come pre-configured. This means that users are able to get up and running almost immediately. Also, when there is the need to add new users or projects, this can be done in an instant without the need for IT support or complex infrastructures.
3) The ability to scale
Cloud business intelligence tools are able to scale as your company grows. A growing company has the ability to add the likes of more storage and users to ensure that, as a solution, it will always meet their needs.
4) Increased security
A breach of data can be catastrophic for any business. By opting for cloud business intelligence, the cloud provider has the responsibility to meet all industry standards and to keep your data safe. BI tools that are purely integrated with your hardware setup are much more vulnerable.
5) Cost savings
Benefits of cloud business intelligence is the savings that are possible. With a cloud option, there is no massive outlay for the initial infrastructure and there is no need to be concerned with where your servers will be stored. Savings are also realised because of the fact that maintenance and software updates are all taken care of.
Cloud business intelligence solutions
Cloud business intelligence solutions are hosted on virtual networks. They are a great option for both SMEs and businesses that have grown beyond this. One such solution comes from Microsoft under the name Power BI.
As cloud business intelligence tools go, Power BI has a great deal to offer. Rather than being left pouring over mind-numbing spreadsheets, this solution presents your data in charts, graphs and diagrams. These visuals are all customisable and it’s extremely easy to share with other stakeholders.
This solution works by connecting to live data sources to ensure that there is an accurate view of your company’s performance. There is also assistance offered with preparing data so that it is in a form where it can be analysed.
Of course, any BI, including cloud business intelligence, is only as good as the data that exists. If your business has data that’s outdated, disorganised and unstructured, the likelihood is that your insights will be compromised. An experienced partner, such as WatchMyCompetitor, can guide you through the early phases to ensure that you’re given the best information possible.
The challenges of cloud business intelligence
While there are numerous advantages and benefits attached to cloud business intelligence, there are also challenges to be overcome. According to one survey, these are the main ones being experienced:
- Controlling costs
- Data privacy and security
- Protecting cloud resources
- Data governance
- Lack of expertise
A further study also raises concerns about the lack of qualified staff. However, it goes on to claim that organisations’ biggest concerns are still centred on security. The concerns raised include:
- Issues with misconfiguration – 68%
- Concerns around unauthorised access – 58%
- Insecure interface – 52%
- Overall, 75% of cybersecurity professionals raise concerns around the security of the cloud
Of course, such challenges may ring alarm bells but, in reality, there are similar issues faced with on-premise solutions which are just as, if not more, susceptible to any form of hacking.
The truth is that, despite these challenges, the cloud still wins. Business intelligence, just like other areas within the IT landscape, is being revolutionised by the cloud. Adoption of cloud services is growing and more and more businesses are realising that the benefits far outweigh any of the potential challenges.
There is no denying that challenges exist but, if they are addressed correctly, they don’t have to mean that your BI solutions remain on-premise. The reality is that the cloud and BI pair together perfectly. The latter ensures that the right information is available to the right people while the former provides an agile way to access solutions and applications.
The future of computing is in the cloud. As businesses rely more and more on data in order to take the right path, the reality is that the hardware and storage required will become increasingly cost-prohibitive. The solution is found in cloud business intelligence tools where storage and hardware concerns become redundant.
The ability to access the data you need from multiple devices means that the information is always at your fingertips and no time is lost when it comes to the decision-making process. This all brings benefits to your bottom line.