/ How BI tools can help businesses go past spreadsheets

How BI tools can help businesses go past spreadsheets

For years, spreadsheets have been the go-to tool for businesses needing to crunch numbers and create simple reports and visuals. But as businesses have become more data-driven, they’re finding that spreadsheets are no longer enough to meet their needs. As the amount of data being collected and utilized has increased, businesses have been forced to look for new ways to make sense of it all.

Business intelligence (BI) tools are designed to do just that—help businesses turn data into insights that can inform decision-making. BI tools go beyond spreadsheets in a number of ways, offering features and functionality that can help businesses better understand their data and make better use of it.

So why are many businesses still relying on spreadsheets? In some cases, it may simply be a matter of habit or comfort. But in other cases, the decision to stick with a spreadsheet may be driven by cost. Some businesses believe that BI tools are too expensive or complicated to justify the investment.

However, BI tools don’t have to be expensive or complicated. There are a number of affordable and easy-to-use BI tools on the market that can help businesses of all sizes get more out of their data. And in many cases, the cost of not investing in a BI tool can be much higher than the cost of the tool itself.

Let’s consider some of the ways BI tools can help businesses go beyond spreadsheets:

 
domo
 

Understanding BI vs. spreadsheets

First, it’s important to understand the difference between BI tools and spreadsheets. As we mentioned, BI tools are designed to help businesses make sense of their data. They do this by providing features and functionality that allow businesses to collect, store, and analyze data.

In a sense, a spreadsheet is a BI tool. It can be used to collect, store, and analyze data. However, the spreadsheet was not designed specifically for business intelligence. As a result, it lacks many of the features and functionality that businesses need to effectively make use of their data.

And as data capabilities have increased, the spreadsheet’s shortcomings have become more and more apparent.

For example, businesses that are collecting data from multiple sources often find it difficult to keep track of everything in spreadsheets. This can lead to data silos, where different departments or teams can’t access each other’s data.

Additionally, businesses that are trying to do complex analysis often find spreadsheets to be limited. The tool simply wasn’t designed for the level of data manipulation and analysis that businesses now need.

Here are some specific ways that BI tools can help businesses go beyond spreadsheets:

Advanced reporting and visualization capabilities

One area where BI tools excel is in their reporting and visualization capabilities. With BI tools, businesses can create highly customized reports and dashboards that go far beyond what spreadsheets can do.

BI tools also offer a wide variety of visualization options, allowing businesses to better understand their data and spot trends and patterns that they might not be able to see with spreadsheets alone.

For instance, BI tools can create heatmaps, which are visualizations that use color to show how different data points relate to each other. This can be helpful for spotting correlations that might not be obvious in a traditional table or chart.

In short, BI tools give businesses much more flexibility when it comes to reporting and visualization. This leads to better decision-making as businesses are able to more effectively understand and use their data.

 
domo
 

Flexible data connectivity

Another advantage of BI tools is their ability to connect to a wide variety of data sources. For many companies, data is collected from a variety of different systems, including CRMs, ERPs, web analytics tools, and more.

Some spreadsheet tools can also connect to some of these data sources. However, the process is often complicated and time-consuming. And in some cases, it may not be possible to connect spreadsheets to certain data sources.

BI tools, on the other hand, are designed to connect to a variety of data sources. This means that businesses can more easily bring all of their data into one place, where it can be used for reporting and analysis.

This flexibility means that businesses can get more out of their data as they’re not limited by the data sources that they can connect to. When businesses can more easily access and analyze all of their data, they’re in a better position to make informed decisions.

Predictive analytics

One of the main reasons that companies invest in BI tools is for their advanced predictive analytics capabilities. With BI tools, businesses can do things like predictive modeling and forecasting.

This is functionality that simply isn’t available in spreadsheets without a lot of custom programming. And even then, it would be difficult to get the same level of accuracy and flexibility that BI tools provide.

Advanced analytics can be extremely valuable for businesses, as it can help them make better decisions about the future. With predictive modeling, businesses can simulate different scenarios and see how they might play out. This can help businesses make more informed decisions about things like product development, marketing, and more.

Better collaboration and data sharing

One of the main benefits of using a BI tool is that it can help improve collaboration and data sharing within an organization.

With a BI tool, all of the data is stored in one place. This makes it easier for different teams to access and share the data they need. It also makes it easier for teams to collaborate on reports and analyses.

In contrast, spreadsheets can often lead to data silos. This is because different departments or teams are often working with different versions of the same data set. This can lead to confusion and frustration, as teams don’t always have access to the most up-to-date data.

Consider an industry such as retail. In a retail setting, it’s important for different teams to be able to access and share data.

For instance, the marketing team might need to access sales data in order to create targeted campaigns. And the product development team might need to access customer data in order to understand what products are selling well (and why).

With a BI tool, all of this data would be stored in one place. This would make it easier for the different teams to access and share the data they need. It would also make it easier for the teams to collaborate on projects.

 
domo
 

Improved decision-making

Decision-making is the ultimate goal of any business intelligence initiative. By definition, business intelligence is all about using data to make better decisions.

Spreadsheets have been used in the past for decision-making. However, the limitations of spreadsheets often lead to suboptimal decision-making. For instance, if data is spread out across different spreadsheet files, it can be difficult to get a complete picture of what’s going on.

This can lead to decision-makers basing their decisions on incomplete information. And in some cases, it can even lead to decision-makers making decisions that are based on inaccurate data.

BI tools can help improve decision-making by giving businesses a more complete picture of what’s going on. With BI tools, businesses can easily access and analyze all of their data. This means that decision-makers can be confident that they’re basing their decisions on accurate and up-to-date information.

Faster time to insights

Time is always of the essence in business. And when it comes to making decisions, the faster you can get insights, the better.

Spreadsheets often fall short when it comes to speed. This is because the spreadsheet wasn’t designed for BI purposes. As a result, businesses often have to spend a lot of time cleaning and preparing data for analysis.

BI tools can help speed up the process by making it easier to access and analyze data. With BI tools, businesses can quickly get the insights they need to make decisions. In some cases, businesses can even get real-time insights. These can be used in embedded analytics applications such as dashboards.

 

Trust BI tools with your data needs

As businesses have become more data-driven, they’re finding that spreadsheets are no longer enough to meet their needs. What is necessary is a move toward smarter, more effective business intelligence tools.

There are many different BI tools on the market. When choosing a BI tool, it’s important to find one that’s a good fit for your specific needs. Don’t let the fear of change keep you from making the move to a BI tool. The benefits of using a BI tool will far outweigh any challenges you might face during the transition.

Check out some related resources:

Nucleus Research: Domo’s ROI as a Data Platform

Data Never Sleeps 10.0

Embracing the future of data with augmented BI

Try Domo for yourself. Completely free.

Domo transforms the way these companies manage business.