Cloud BI: Visualizing the Way to Better Business

The adage, "a picture is worth a thousand words," is true -- so imagine the worth of a picture that depicts insights gleaned from multiple data sets to a business trying to determine product costs or performance by region, for example, or trying to take a deep dive into data to find telltale patterns in its operations.

In the past, the amount of time needed to generate and then manipulate data was an obstacle to gleaning useful insights for many small and medium-sized companies. Many would end up spending more time assembling reports than on analyzing and learning and initiating action on the data discovered.

Integrating the analytics and reporting capabilities could prove challenging, with specialized IT staff or consultants often needed to set up the processes. As a result, the cost of setting up and maintaining a reporting system had excluded many SMBs from using and accessing analytics -- and that assumes they even knew what resources might be available to them in the first place.

Cloud-based business intelligence (BI) could prove helpful for such businesses. As data visualization provider Tableau has said, "Organizations using data for analysis are quickly moving to integrate cloud services into their analytics workflows to ensure they benefit from the shift in data gravity."

UC-as-a-service provider Fuze (formerly ThinkingPhones) comes to mind. Analytics is a key component of its service (see related post, "Cloud Comms: Beyond Basic Phone Calls").

The move to the cloud is about the ability to do business on a higher level. Taking a company to "the next level" isn't about investment and a bunch of MBAs steering a firm into a merger or acquisition by a larger fish. The opportunity that many SMBs are missing out on is the ability to use analytics in such a way as to gain a competitive understanding about their companies and customers, as well as applicable trends, associations, and patterns. By using cloud BI, a company has the potential to become empowered via data and rise above its current state of business. Analytics are powerful.

Tableau Online

Unfortunately, not all cloud-hosted voice services can look outside their silos, and offer limited services and capabilities when it comes to data analytics. That's where a self-service cloud BI product like Tableau Online, can help. As Tableau said it has discovered, "Hybrid data sources remain the most practical solution for many businesses, especially those transitioning to the cloud." In fact, the company said, hybrid represents over half of all connections in its cloud BI product, "signifying that the majority of organizations are distributing data across cloud and on-premises environments."

The trend of extending analytics from the premises to the cloud isn't likely to change. Convergence is a journey that companies must embark upon to reach higher ground.

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