“Business intelligence (BI)” can be defined as a discipline that clusters an organization’s theories, architecture and methodologies with the help of technology and generates meaningful and actionable insights from raw data. The focal point of BI application is to provide the right information to the right people at the right time and in the right format. BI is seen as the foundation for any business strategy.
Although more and more organizations are implementing BI across the enterprise, the question, however, is how to make BI more robust, effective and easily accessible so that in this struggling economy the organization still remains competitive.
Many organizations have invested large sums of money in purchasing the best software, hiring the best IT people for maintenance, and setting up a proper environment for BI application. Even so, there can be issues such as lack of maintenance, efficiency and adeptness. In this context, using cloud for BI platform is an advised solution. The reason is that cloud not only gives open ups access and increases effectiveness, but also reduces overall costs and improves the quality of your business decisions.
The many arguments for leveraging cloud-based BI:
- Cloud BI reduces your implementation time. Traditionally business intelligence was an expensive and time-consuming process where you had to set up a resource intensive ecosystem for implementing BI solutions and hire professionals to manage the setup. Cloud BI, on the other hand, is an inexpensive medium that lets you concentrate on your core business and not on the setup of software, environment, licensing etc. The service provider remains responsible for hosting, managing and maintaining the software. So, you save your Money + Time + Energy.
- It is very easy to manage the changing requirements. In case of additional requirement or some degradation in requirement, cloud-based BI makes it easier for you to scale up and down. The web has massive power of computation. It typically follows monthly or yearly flat fee per user, so price is easily scalable and adjustable if number of users is increasing or decreasing.
- The best reason – the ease of use. When your application is running on cloud, users can access it from their laptops, mobile, tablets, iPad, desktops etc. It provides you with browser-based control and the privilege of pay-per-use. Any admin settings and problems are taken care of by the cloud service vendors and users do not need to be bothered. So you can focus on utilizing your time more effectively in garnering business rather that executing these settings for each client.
- Since you have invested less in setting up the application, you can expect getting faster return on your investment.
- Users create their own reports more effectively and easily. Unlike traditional BI, cloud-based BI is not that dependent on IT for reporting. It provides simple data upload instructions to business users, and helps them create their own reports without going through the complex ETL process.
- Cloud BI increases the flexibility during execution and implementation. Cloud enables instantaneous reflection of updates in any data source across organizations sharing the cloud. This also includes new types of analysis and requirement changes.
- Your data will be secure. BI on cloud follows a multi-tenant nature. Therefore, only one instance of your software will run on server and will serve multiple clients. This not only will reduce duplicity of data, but will also ensure the centralization and security of data.
Although most cloud solutions offer inherent capabilities for application servers, BI professionals require it for data management and analytic applications. The earlier concerns of hosting services on the cloud, like those of security, governance and integration, are now fading away. Recent concerns mostly focus on the architecture design on the cloud. With a robust design and the availability of security protocols, cloud has become more reliable. Some of the recent cloud-based solutions have SOA architecture, metadata-based design and standards-based security to ensure along with flexible licensing such that organizations can pick and choose based on their security and reporting needs.
While the concept of cloud is not necessarily new (with its roots going back to the 1960’s), it holds a strong future as part of business intelligence. For any organization to be competitive in today’s economy, it is imperative you make quick but quality decisions. Cloud-based BI (software as a service) reduces the complexity by handling infrastructure and maintenance costs, giving more flexibility of pay per license. This is the primary reason why IT giants and startups are moving quickly towards implementing cloud-based BI.
It also remains cost-effective, offers faster implementation and deployment, increased elasticity and security as well as improves the quality and speed of business decisions. With corporates increasingly embracing it as part of their business intelligence strategies, it has become more main-stream and adoption rates have also increased compared to traditional on-premises software.
Cloud based solution is the logical converging point for all the trending technologies. The cloud ecosystem will not only be advantageous for BI, but also for data warehousing and analytics, supporting massive amounts of data and also providing consistent enterprise-wide applications that are inherently scalable thus providing generous capacity for booming big data, analytics workloads and enhance departmental BI.
Authors: Ankush Singh/Sukhda Dhal