Business intelligence is at a tipping point. More and more people are discovering that everyone in an organization can use big data analytics to meet and exceed business goals. But while the mindset is shifting, there are still some long-held assumptions that have plagued the industry, fortifying the biggest myth of all—that big data analytics is only valuable to a few business people. Historically, business intelligence has been viewed as an on-premise platform that was operated by a team of data scientists who extracted insights reserved only for C-level executives. As its usage becomes more widespread, it’s important to dispel these myths.

Myth No. 1: Pretty Pictures Equate to Valuable Insights

Don’t be fooled by pretty pictures. While translating data insights into a format that businesses users can understand and use is key to adoption, it’s important to look past the smoke and mirrors. Just because a BI tool can render your information as pretty pictures, that doesn’t mean it’s the most accurate information. More important than the pictures is the importance of knowing that the solution you pick can handle the challenges of combining and analyzing disparate data points. Make sure that your BI solution of choice can really pull together data from multiple sources to create one unified answer. While it’s important to know that your solution can transform data insights into a format others can use, don’t forget to look beyond the visualizations for a solution that can truly handle all of your data.

Myth No. 2: BI Solutions Will Solve Every Problem, Right Now

Once you’ve decided to deploy a BI solution, it’s important to set reasonable goals. Rather than expecting to solve every business problem all at once, prioritize specific outcomes you want to achieve. When you have answered the first business problem, add on incrementally and be flexible in your approach. Consider what answers will validate a recently introduced strategy or will have the biggest impact on your business operations. Then choose one as a starting point. While business intelligence can eventually answer all of your questions, don’t expect all of the answers all at once.

Myth No. 3: One Size Fits All

The notion that one size fits all does not hold true for business intelligence. When you’re deploying a BI solution, consider your intended audience and their needs. If it’s for hundreds of sales reps, you want to provide a robust and interactive dashboard. If it’s for a marketing team, you want to provide predictive analytics. If it’s for a financial report, you want to provide enterprise-reporting tool. Ideally, your BI solution can provide all of these and more, generating your data into front-end tools that fit specific end uses. When looking at vendors make sure that they can support all of these needs and use the same unified insights to support every use case.

As you the take plunge into adopting business intelligence, shed these myths. The better understanding you have about each of these notions, the better results you’ll get from becoming a data-driven company.


Southard Jones is VP of Product Strategy at Birst.

Originally featured on WIRED