Cloud-Based Business Intelligence

In this article we'll be covering :

  • What constitutes Cloud-Based BI
  • Capabilities and Advantages of Cloud-BI Platforms
  • Reasons for Adopting Cloud-BI Solutions
  • Features of an Efficient BI Solution
  • Future of Cloud-Based BI Tools
Updated on
Updated on

Transforming Operations with Cloud-Based Business Intelligence

Business intelligence (BI) can be defined as a discipline that clusters an organization’s theories, architecture, and methodologies with the help of technology, generating meaningful and actionable insights from raw data. The focal point of the application of BI 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 leveraging BI across the enterprise, the question, however, is how to make BI more robust, effective, and easily accessible. In this struggling economy organizations need to harness the power of BI and take data-based decisions, to remain competitive in the market.

Many organizations have invested large sums of money in purchasing the best software, hiring the most capable IT people for maintenance, and setting up a proper environment for BI application. Even then there can be issues such as a lack of maintenance, efficiency and adeptness. In this context, using cloud for BI platforms is an advised solution.

What is Cloud-Based BI?

Due to the inadequacies of the traditional on-premise BI solutions and the human element, the lack of timely insights was accentuated by the inaccurate interpretation of data.

Off-premise Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, or Cloud-based solutions simply eliminate the human element and lets technology transform raw data into actionable insights. Not only does this automate the process, free up manpower and increase efficiency, but reduces overall costs while improving the quality of insights. It is the ideal solution for an efficient and scalable way to store, analyze, deliver and access data.

Deployment of cloud-BI solutions are supported on three different cloud architectures – Public, Private and Hybrid.

Types of Cloud

A Public Cloud is one where the infrastructure costs are shared by the cloud tenants, making it the most affordable structure for BI solutions. A perfect option for small to medium enterprises who do not have a lot of resources to spare, but are dealing with heavy data loads.

A Private Cloud is the most expensive cloud service, and is usually used by organizations that have to be strictly adhere to regulatory compliances (HIPAA, GLBA, GDPR, etc.) and are conscious about their data security. This infrastructure also offers organizations their dedicated data storage and computing resources.

A Hybrid Cloud as the name suggests, is a combination of public and private cloud services when it concerns computing power. Organizations which have to abide by strict regulations, and yet cannot afford a private cloud service, can leverage this option. They can analyze sensitive data using the private cloud, and use the public one for big data analysis.

Advantages of Cloud BI Solutions

The advantages of leveraging a cloud-based BI solution are compelling enough to advocate its adoption. They are as follows:

Minimized 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. Simply install your BI solution and get started, without needing intervention from an IT team. The service provider remains responsible for hosting, managing and maintaining the software. So, you get to save your money, time, and energy.

Adapting to Future Requirements

In case of additional requirements or some reduction in requirements, cloud-based BI makes it easier for you to scale up and down. The web has massive powers of computation, and having a scalable solution is key to having a certain flexibility in operations. It typically follows monthly or yearly flat fee per user, so even the price is easily scalable and adjustable if number of users is increasing or decreasing.

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.

Faster ROI

With minimal investment required for deployment and the host maintaining the web-based solution, your investments are at an all time low when it concerns BI gathering. This offers a shorter time to insights and faster route to a positive ROI.

Efficient Reporting

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.

Flexibility in 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.

Data Security and Optimization

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. Cloud-based analytics solutions have in place robust data encryption, security patches, data segregation processes, multi-level caching, and regulatory compliance protocols. Advanced security measures can even require voice and fingerprint authentication for extremely sensitive data. Leveraging BI tools, large volumes of data can be efficiently managed and a higher quality can be delivered to stakeholders across the organization, from a single source to a personalized dashboard.

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.

Why choose Cloud-Based Solutions?

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 best practices, it has become more main-stream and adoption rates have also increased compared to traditional on-premises software.

What to look for in a Cloud-BI tool?

When considering a shift to cloud business intelligence tools, there are numerous options available. You need to look out for the following capabilities which are indispensable to an efficient solution.

Effective Data Management is absolutely crucial when mining data from various sources. It needs to be cleansed, segmented, and transformed into consumable insights. Data integration is at the heart of business intelligence gathering.

Advanced Analytics through data extraction and root-cause analysis are capabilities in high demand across industries and there is no BI without data analytics.

Customization is also a prominent feature that you need to account for. Bespoke cloud-BI solutions are essential to scaling the tool to business-specific requirements, that help deliver personalized insights.

Clear Reporting and supporting Visualizations are key to having a greater understanding of the insights gathered, so that well-informed business decisions can be taken by stakeholders.

Real-time access to actionable insights is key to being able to affect change while a campaign is live, or for instance adaapting supply chain elements with developing market conditions for an optimized ROI.

Cloud BI tools should enable easy Collaboration between teams, for a free-flow of information and insights that can positively impact decisions at every stage of the organization. Simple and effective collaboration can transform the business as a whole, and every team can work towards that common goal.

The Future of BI

Cloud-based business intelligence solutions are being increasingly adopted by organizations across industries. The benefits that the tools offer and the power it has to transform business operations and decisions, will see cloud-BI tools become the norm when it concerns analytics and insights.

With the future of business intelligence preparing for increasing adoption of self-service analytics, organizations are advocating for data democratization. This will act as a catalyst, fueling the need for cloud BI tools that can be operated easily, without a lot of experience in analytics, and can yet deliver high quality insights.

Automated insights that are available on a streamlined dashboard or personalized application, which are actionable in real-time and can enhance the business from the ground-up. Cloud-BI tools will keep evolving as organizational architecture will change over time, and technological innovations will add to the scalability and capabilities of the solutions.

Course5 offers end-to-end services for helping clients integrate cloud-BI tools such as Microsoft Azure, Microsoft PowerBI, Tableau, and Qlik into their operations. We enable enterprises to drive value from the investments, and gain a substantial competitive advantage through data democratization and the increased access to relevant insights. We contribute significantly to our clients’ BI ventures, from consulting to the adoption of the data platform. We propose the ideal solution, setup the foundation for their data and BI initiatives, develop and deploy dashboards and applications for presenting the insights, and reinforce their business continuity.

Course5 Discovery is our proprietary AI-enabled Augmented Analytics solution, enabling organizations to capitalize on their cross-functional data, accessing the enterprise data bank on the cloud. It delivers real-time actionable insights through collaborative medium such as enterprise BI platforms, chats, Excel, PowerPoint, WhatsApp, Email and others. Prescriptive insights, and active closed-feedback loop systems add to its capabilities of not just being able to handle your data, but being able to help you visualize data, take informed decisions, and monetize information.

Cloud-based solutions are 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.


Note: This article was recently updated to offer a holistic view of Cloud-based Business Intelligence and the future of analytics solutions.