With so many new tools in Cloud, BI, and Data Analytics, many companies are starting to explore the wonderful world of data analysis, but some are still unsure about where to start. Data warehouses or lakes? Predictive or prescriptive analytics? What about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning? Knowing what you need and how much it should cost can deter a business from taking the first steps to data-driven growth. But it doesn’t have to be so complicated.

But First, Here’s Why Bi Is Important.

If you’re like most companies, you’re probably deeply familiar with Excel, the trusty business analysis tool of the masses. Excel is a great place to start your initial data analysis journey, but as your tools and data collection begin to evolve, so do your product needs. You need tools that gradually develop and scale with your business, producing new and increasing value over time. Unfortunately, as powerful as Excel is, it has limitations. Anyone who has attempted to use Excel in a collaborative setting knows exactly how quickly the tool becomes a blocker for successful analysis.

Modern BI tools are not only a better option for accessing and managing your data, they also provide a clear competitive advantage that is becoming a necessity for surviving. But with so many tools to choose from, you may be wondering which tools are right or how much to spend. Research and advisory company, Gartner, recommends you first consider the business benefits of implementing a BI tool into your business model and then consider the price.

Four Areas to Consider

The apps, services, and products that your company uses for business are already collecting valuable information about clients interactions, marketing performance, sales opportunities, logistics and operations costs, and much more. The data they collect is the competitive advantage that you can wield with the appropriate BI tool. To make the most of this data, it’s important to appropriately address your business needs:

Accessibility — Accessibility is a critical factor in the successful implementation of a BI strategy. If you’re using Excel or similar analysis tools, you're storing information in the most fragile, non-repeatable system. You likely email the Excel file between colleagues, hoping everything stays intact, so you don’t lose your data or analysis work. Good BI brings accessibility to the forefront and removes data silos. As you start to use BI tools, the value of accessibility immediately becomes clear, forcing other departments and managers to take notice. Employees—your boots on the ground—are making important decisions that have a significant impact on a company’s success and should receive adequate analysis tools. When your employees have access to, not only data but data-driven goals and insights, they’re empowered to make the decision that benefits the entire company, not just their current department.

Speed — Decisions often separate the winners from the losers, especially when it comes to the highly competitive nature of modern business. It follows that your time-to-decision is critical. A recent Aberdeen report showed 63% of best-in-class companies that implemented BI experienced improvement in time-to-decision over the past 12 months. Not using a BI tool could be costing you the ability to make faster decisions in today’s fast-paced business world. But before starting with a BI tool, you need to understand how readily available your data insights need to be. Are you able to access them strictly from your computer or do you have access anytime you have your phone? BI Tools allow your data to be available any time allowing you to make data-driven decisions quickly. 

If you need to make data-driven decisions fast, we recommend adding a checkbox to your search list for mobile or responsive BI solutions. Not using a BI tool could be costing you the ability to make faster decisions in today’s fast-paced business world. 

Efficiency — The right BI solution will not only empower your team to operate more efficiently, but it can also improve the pace and accuracy of their decisions. That’s two big wins for a BI-enabled business. But, what if BI became your competitive data advantage? Many companies, large and small, spend countless hours creating reports, dashboards, and presentations. They hire analysts, consultants, and agencies just to deliver reports on what’s readily available in the right BI tool. Modern BI tools should take you from zero to insights, automatically. By automating reporting and analysis, teams are freed up to spend time collaborating, creating, and acting.

Every successful company has a way of tapping into an unmet need in the market. Data analytics can deliver a powerful competitive advantage, empowering your teams with an edge over even your largest competitors. Whether it’s a whole new product, revamp of an old solution, or just a new business model, these competitive advantages are critical. As businesses grow, competition increases as others — incumbents and startups alike — chase their success.

Pricing Structures — I know you’re dying for a simple answer to the article title, but to appropriately address the question, we need to understand the ancillary costs of not using the right BI tool. Let’s start with your current solution. 

Let’s imagine you’re using Excel again, or a similar product. Creating a report can be a hassle. It can be done, but it likely is time-consuming and involves team input and collaboration. The average salary for an analyst is about $60,000. If they’re spending even 60% of their time on generating reports and dashboards, you’re likely using about $36k of their salary just to get reports. But reports and dashboards aren’t insights.

BI and Analytics tools costs vary dramatically, and since no tool is measured the same, they can be difficult to compare. Focusing strictly on SaaS options, here are a few key pricing models you’ll see:

  • Flat Pricing — Flat rate pricing is the simplest way to sell a SaaS solution: you offer a single product, a standard set of features, and a single price.
  • Usage Pricing — This “pay as you go” relates to the costs associated with using the product. The more you use the service, the more you pay.
  • Tiered Pricing — Tiered pricing is the go-to model enables businesses to sell multiple tiers or “packages,” with various mixtures of features offered at different price points.
  • Per User/Seat — This common option and offers a unique level of simplicity. With this model, a user pays a fixed monthly price. Each additional user added to that team/organization/etc. costs the same as the first.
  • Per Feature — Per feature pricing separates out various pricing tiers according to the functionality packaged with each option. Higher priced packages are combining a greater number of available features than the cheaper packages.

With all factors to consider, implementing BI tools can be a game-changer in the future of your company’s decision making. Understanding your businesses needs, the collected data can serve as a competitive advantage, able to be wielded with an appropriate BI tool and allow you to make the most of your data.

But wait, you haven’t told me how much should BI tools really cost. You’re right, we haven’t. Why? Because it’s not the right question. Instead, we should be asking, how much is the wrong solution costing your company?

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