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How Challenging is Changing Your BI Platform?

Updated: Mar 31, 2023


Most larger organisations have an existing BI platform. A platform that might have been in place for many years and has grown organically over many years. There can be hundreds of dashboards.

Many organisations also have issues with their BI platform. The most common issue that I hear about is performance. The minutes it takes for dashboards to load and the frustration of users trying to get answers to their questions.

If Google took minutes to get you an answer to your question, do you think you would wait? Would you stop asking questions, or would you find another tool that can answer the questions faster?

We know the answer. We would switch tools.

So why in business do we put up with tools that just are not meeting the needs of the business?

The reasons that I hear and see can be chunked into a few different buckets:

  1. "All the other tools are basically the same."

  2. "It’s going to take months if not years to migrate to a new platform and just get back to the point we are now."

  3. "People know how to use the current platform."

  4. Fear.


All the other tools are basically the same

Up until the last 3 years I would say that this is 100% accurate. Tableau revolutionised the BI market, bringing us visual dashboards in 2005. Today Qlik and Power BI are delivering very similar products. Each of these represents a large portion of the BI market. All of them provide a platform that allows Data Analysts to create dashboards that are then consumed by business users.

Over the last 3 years we have seen the birth and growth of the search driven analytics market. A leader of the new breed of BI is ThoughtSpot, which uses a Google like search interface to empower business users to ask their own questions of data with a simple search. Sure, dashboards are still created in these modern BI tools, but it is achieved through the search bar, meaning the average business user can create their own dashboards.


“Think load times in seconds not minutes, across billions of rows of data.”


Just like Google these search driven BI tools are designed for scale; for massive volumes of data. Because they use a new approach at solving an old problem they are able to deliver incredibly fast response times. Think load times in seconds not minutes, across billions of rows of data.

It’s going to take years to migrate

A BI replatforming project typically takes many months, sometimes even years to complete. There is environment commissioning, data modelling, data pipelining and of course the hundreds of hours of dashboard creation before a business user can start to get their hands on some data.

In modern BI, the platform is SaaS, the data stays in the warehouse and the tools can inherit the model that already exists. We don’t even need to create dashboards, because the users are able to use a search to get their hands on the data.

“We consider anything longer than 12 weeks to be a problematic project.”

What this means is that deploying a modern BI platform can happen in a matter of weeks for even the largest enterprise organisations. In fact, we have recently completed a BI replatforming project for one of Australia’s largest retailers in just 9 weeks! This isn’t a once off amazing achievement, we consider anything longer than 12 weeks to be a problematic project.

People know how to use the current platform

This is what people will often say, but what is really sitting underneath it is “It took ages for people to learn our current tool”. Within our project implementation we also deliver training for the BI Team. This enablement training provides the team with the full set of data management skills and also provides train-the-trainer skills to be able to on-board business users.

In our recent project the BI team were trained during the 9 week period. The internal BI team also led all of the business user training, with our specialists simply sitting in for moral support. During the 9 week project, they delivered the first set of training to their 20 pilot business users. Since the platform launched, they have continued to refine their training approach to roll out the platform to over 200 business users. Each business user attends a 1 hour online training session, which enables them to use search to ask their own questions.

There are subsequent drop-in or one-on-one sessions available over the following couple of weeks if a user needs some additional help. The team is now also running regular monthly advanced hour long training sessions that any business user can also attend.

Using just a few simple structured sessions business users are up and running on the new platform with data capabilities far superior than they were previously capable.

Fear

BI teams have often grown to try to keep pace with ad-hoc requests from the business. There is often a fear about what will happen to the team if the business is suddenly able to self-serve all of their own ad-hoc questions.

In reality answering these ad-hoc questions is not the most effective way for an analyst to deliver real value to an organisation. Having the time to be able to uncover deeper insights, beyond the everyday question is when an analyst is truly valuable. Making space by enabling self-service, allows the BI team to be redeployed to tackle the big hairy questions. So, sure you won’t be needed to answer those simple questions, but what you will be doing will be much more challenging for you professionally and much more important to the business.

Are you ready for a change?

Changing BI platforms has historically been a long punishing experience. In the last 3 years the search driven BI market has changed that. Replatforming even the largest enterprise organisations can now be delivered in a matter of weeks. The outcome is a solution which is not just another dashboard, but a new way of enabling data insights across your organisation and putting the power to drive decision making into the hands of the business user.

Whether you generate revenue of $5 million or $500 million, talk with us today to discuss how we can help you change your BI platform and maximise the value of your data.

You can get in touch with us via email at info@pivotanalytics.com.au or calling 1300 475 510.


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