Going to Adopt Cloud-Based BI? Here’s What to Look for – and What to Avoid

July 13, 2012 No Comments

By Farnaz Erfan, Product Marketing Manager at Pentaho

Cloud BI fresh Going to Adopt Cloud Based BI? Here’s What to Look for – and What to AvoidPlanning and knowing what to look for in a cloud-based BI implementation is critical to success, and it begins with having a strategy and ‘end game’ in mind for your cloud-based applications. Here’s a quick summary of what to expect – good and bad – as you search for a cloud-based BI solution.

What to Look For

It’s crucially important to include information across your business processes from different business applications in order to make effective decisions, regardless of where the data sources might have come from.  Make sure to understand the implications for your BI solution, given the proliferation of cloud-based applications, so you can plan for them and get the full analytics capabilities and insights that you expect and need for your business.

Enterprises are starting to build information silos yet again, this time in the cloud. A key area to explore when evaluating vendors is to get beyond the hype and test whether your BI solution will deliver accurate insights across all your different data sources.  An analytics solution should provide you those insights regardless of the mix of delivery models you may have in your business – whether primarily cloud-based, on-premise, or (most likely) a hybrid model of both types of delivery models.

If you are looking to acquire a new app, look for business applications that already provide analytics. The CRM, ERP, HCM, eBilling/ePurchasing, Collaboration, or industry-specific applications of the world should be equipped to deliver your required analytics within their business processes.  There is often now intense pressure for these vendors to add broad analytics as part of their offering because their end-users are requiring it.

The greatest benefit of cloud-based BI might be in the embedded value of analytics within enterprise apps. Whether you build your own customized app or you buy packaged apps that already come with embedded analytics, the value is in analytics that align with your business processes, as opposed to stand-alone dashboards.

If you are looking to augment existing applications and your enterprise data with business intelligence, look for one that can be deployed both in the cloud and on-premise. More and more of your data will live in the cloud, but you’ll want to also access data from your on-premise solutions to provide full insight into the trends and reports you are analyzing.

What to Be Wary Of

It’s very easy to get caught up in the cloud’s instant gratification mentality. There are two big motivations for adopting a cloud-based BI solution:  no capital expenditures and a fast time to value. When doing your evaluation, make sure to evaluate all the related up-front and on-going costs that will be part of getting your solution up and running, as well as maintaining it in the face of on-going business changes.  The solution you choose must be easily adaptable to change, both from a time, resources, end-user, and cost point of view.

Pure SaaS BI solutions cannot be customized easily or at all in some cases. Your business will have to align its processes around what the vendor prescribes ‘out-of-the-box’ versus making the software as a service work for you. That’s why the adoption of these solutions has been so slow.

Author BIO:

Farnaz Erfan Going to Adopt Cloud Based BI? Here’s What to Look for – and What to AvoidFarnaz Erfan is the Product Marketing Manager of Pentaho Corporation. With over 12 years of experience, Farnaz has built and launched various enterprise Data Integration and Business Intelligence products and solutions. Prior to Pentaho, Farnaz played a variety of leadership roles in IBM, including product engineering management, product management, and marketing management. Farnaz received her degree in Computer Science from Purdue University and her Product Management Certification from Pragmatic Marketing®.

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