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5 key issues to consider when evaluating cloud business intelligence

Cloud-based business intelligence promises faster, easier, and more cost-effective deployment. Learn how to make the most of this cutting-edge technology.

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“IT leaders with the right cloud know-how can help ‘drive revenue and reduce costs—achievements that are likely to impress business leaders’.”

—Dean Lane, founder of the Office of the CIO

The use of business intelligence (BI) in the cloud is revolutionary. It enables companies to gain insight into consumer behavior, identify sales opportunities, and make data-driven decisions without hefty investments in IT infrastructure.

It is a prime opportunity for CIOs to “better collaborate with an organization’s business leaders,” says Dean Lane, founder of the Office of the CIO, a Silicon Valley-based IT consultancy. In fact, Lane says IT leaders with the right cloud knowledge can help “drive revenue and reduce costs—achievements that are likely to impress business leaders.”

But as more and more companies migrate from on-premise to cloud BI, challenges arise. Here are the five most important issues that, according to Lane, IT leaders need to carefully consider when evaluating cloud BI:

  1. Deliver trusted data
    Blending disparate sources of data within a cloud BI solution is crucial to deriving actionable insights about your business. Unfortunately, inaccurate and untrustworthy data can significantly skew results. Whether it’s customer contact details in a CRM system or inventory reports generated by an ERP tool, Lane advises IT leaders to both properly test and validate algorithms and to “always ask the right questions of your data to get the right answers.”
  2. Consider a hybrid model
    There’s no such thing as a cookie-cutter approach to BI. While a growing number of companies prefer cloud-based BI solutions to on-premise, in-house hardware is still important. For instance, companies conducting traditional financial trending analyses using large volumes of highly sensitive data are likely to prefer the control and security provided by an 
    on-premise BI system. The secret, says Lane, is having the next-generation infrastructure in place to support multiple approaches to BI.
  3. Keep your data secure
    Security concerns continue to arise around cloud-based solutions. The good news is companies can take control. First, Lane says, organizations must “figure out what data can be put in the cloud safely and securely.” Next, it’s necessary to ensure that a cloud BI provider offers network segmentation through firewalls, up-to-date security patches, password protection, and security management services. This way, the same levels of data protection can be achieved as with an on-premise set up.
  4. Build the right infrastructure
    Managing a cloud strategy is no easy task. That’s why it’s critical that IT leaders have the necessary infrastructure capabilities to support cloud BI. According to Lane, this requires IT leaders to design an integration “plan”so that corporate data can be seamlessly migrated to the new cloud system. In addition, this effort must be conducted working hand in hand with business line leaders to ensure that a next-generation infrastructure supports not only cloud BI but also business goals.
  5. Facilitate change management
    It’s common for many cloud BI tools to be largely underused. That’s a shame given the investment in time and money. You can encourage greater adoption by offering employees extensive training in BI tools. Be prepared to manage change and educate employees on how they can benefit. After all, says Lane, making the most of technologies like cloud BI can help companies save money that can be “re-invested in growing the business or strategic projects.”

 

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