Top Modules and Features of Business Intelligence Tools

What makes BI tools great? What features are important while selecting a good BI tool? Let’s have a look.

By SoftwareSuggest.

Businesses today have access to huge bursts of data and managing all that information can seem a daunting task! Business intelligence tools are essential to thrive successfully in the current information rich scenario; they help decision makers get access to the data they need so they can quickly adapt to changing conditions and identify new opportunities. Business intelligence tools are revolutionary solutions and perform a number of specialized functions such as reporting, online analytical processing (OLAP), data mining, business performance management, benchmarks, text mining, and predictive analytics. These computer applications process and analyze huge volumes of corporate data to produce quality insights, and help understand the health of your business.

So what exactly forms a great business intelligence tool? Well, it definitely must be packed with novel features, have a user-friendly interface and be up to date! So let’s have a look at the four major feature categories of a good business intelligence solution:

1. High Level Features – These are the broad holistic features that are present in BI tools.

  1. Comprehensive Database Support – Contemporary business intelligence tools support diverse database platforms and can pull data from numerous sources. With many database options popping out at an increasing rate, wide-ranging support makes sure that you are not restricted due to non-adaptability!
  2. Real – Time Data – Business intelligence tools today deliver quick and timely real time data, ensuring that a decision maker has the most current data. Having full knowledge of real time data ensures that the best decisions can be taken for organizational interest.
  3. Application Importing – The best business intelligence tools let you seamlessly import analytical tables, embedded data and charts from other applications. The ability to import important data helps in enhancing flexibility and is a great time saver too!
  4. Mobile Support – Dynamic and fast paced changes in the technological landscape mean that business intelligence tools have to be accessible through a variety of platforms and devices. They need to adapt to smartphones, tablets, laptops and personal computers for ease of access.
  5. Operational Reporting Capabilities – Operational reporting supports the routine daily activities of the business! Business intelligence software provide a host of innovative reporting options (ad-hoc, operational, what-if, mobile, dashboards, etc.) from one code base , which gives managers a complete business picture!

2. Security Features – These features dictate your control over data and user – access, thus enhancing safety.

  1. Multiple Authentication Sources – Modern BI software allows for flexible authentication options. This helps managers take full advantage of the authentication methods already being used and set different authentication methods for different internal systems.
  2. Application Level Security – This lets you control BI application access on a per-user role, or per-user basis. It serves as an effective filter and offers different menu choices to different users, based on their business requirement. Hence, all employees may not have access to business applications that they do not require, tightening internal security measures.
  3. Row Level/Multi-Tenant Security – This basically allows you to monitor and control data access within a single application at the row level. Hence, different users will have varying levels of access to data and view different data pertinent to their job.
  4. Single Sign On – A one-time session authentication process is simple and user-friendly. It ensures that users need to enter their name and password only in one place, thus eliminating the need for repeat password entries while switching applications in a single session. This feature greatly improves efficiency and reduces “wrong/forgotten password” support requests.
  5. Application Activity Auditing – A good business intelligence solution enables operators to log end user activity after each session. This makes sure that the IT department can check when users log in, which applications they access, and the time of each session.

3. Must Have Applications – These are some of the essential must have features that BI tools need to incorporate!

  1. Ad-hoc Report – These reports let business developers create and distribute detailed reports on the go. Important data elements can be chosen and exported to a report format of choice. The report can also be mailed to other users directly from the web, saving time and increasing convenience!
  2. Ranking report – This specialized report option is able to create variable ranking across numerous diverse business dimensions, while mentioning various selection criteria at run time. This wonder tool helps managers get a bird’s eye view of the best and worst aspects of their business!
  3. Executive Dashboards – These are able to display the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are needed to effectively run an enterprise. They provide a real time, customized view of important data through graphs, charts and tables. This enhances good decision making and helps in organizational effectiveness!
  4. Pivot table/OLAP – Pivot tables are a great tool as they extract the significance from a large, detailed data set. Pivot table aid in analytical processing through organizing data, making comparisons, summarizing and predicting trends. Interactive, easy to use and flexible – pivot tables are a must have for a good BI software!

4. Advanced Features – These are the radical, breakthrough features that truly transform business landscapes.

  1. Built-in ETL – Extract, Transform and Load tools help to pull data out of various source systems, transform it to single format and place it into a data warehouse. A unique add on, this feature helps in blending data from multiple sources into one report, thus enriching the content quality.
  2. Intelligent Alerts – This cutting edge technology allows BI software to automatically send email or instant message alerts to a user when data reaches a predefined threshold limit. For example – an alert may be sent every time stock reaches a particular level or sales numbers reach a particular figure. In a hyper competitive business arena, these alerts ensure a proactive team, responding to slightest changes at the earliest.
  3. White labeling –Managers are today looking for readymade, re-branded (or white-labeled) BI solutions to complement their existing product or service. White labeling is the customization of BI software to make the interface similar to the current business software. This helps in offering domain specific insights, consistency and promoting user recall and adoption.

Business intelligence tools are the key ingredient to organizational success. Virtually every small, midsized, and large business can benefit from them, and accrue a huge number of bottom line benefits. We live in the age of information… and information is power! Data-driven organizations absolutely need BI tools to help shift from running business on intuition, to running it with intelligence.

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