How the Cloud Is Powering Modern BI

The world of business intelligence (BI) has always evolved rapidly

But as organisations increasingly turn to the cloud, BI platforms have a unique opportunity to truly change how data is gathered and analysed.

The cloud’s implications on this more modern kind of BI cannot be understated. With traditional BI, data was hardware-bound and difficult to offload into digestible and usable formats. But with the cloud, data is more readily accessible, no matter where it lives, opening the door to a framework that is setting organisations apart from their peers, a framework which ensures modern BI is accessible for all.

Traditional BI vs. modern BI

BI-platform providers have long focused on delivering easily digestible and actionable insights. But that doesn’t mean they’ve overwhelmingly succeeded on those fronts.

In the traditional—or legacy—BI space, we’ve spent far too much time trying to access data, so that by the time we had it and started analysing it, we were forced into reactive decision-making. In other words, we were analysing information that was already in the rearview mirror—and hoping our predictions would ring true.

The cloud, however, has fundamentally shifted that process. With easy access to data, we can now be proactive in our decision-making, because we can see what’s happening in our businesses in real-time. What’s more, we’re no longer focused on trying to answer questions we pose to a BI system. With modern BI powered by the cloud, we can answer questions and address issues before they even arise.

The secret ingredient

The secret ingredient in today’s cloud-powered, modern BI recipe, is the ability for us to easily access any dataset. Regardless of whether companies are currently using cloud solutions or have their own datasets, the cloud allows them to easily access data that lives anywhere—and easily combine all that information in one place (the cloud), where it can be useful.

It’s a seismic shift in how BI applications operate. Once upon a time, it was exceedingly difficult to offload data from the multitude of platforms in which it was living. We would need to access a variety of hardware and software platforms, determine how to offload data, and then see if we could actually do it. The process was long, and it was fraught with problems.

The cloud has unleashed new potential for offloading and accessing data. And thanks to cloud-powered solutions, there’s no type—or amount—of data we can’t access and analyse. In fact, with the right platform, organisations can not only easily crunch data to create insights, but they can easily visualise data and get actionable insights—without having to pester the IT department for help, to boot.

Even more promising is the fact that a modern BI platform paves the way to the next frontier: a future in which unfettered access to data creates new opportunities for us to use data in ways we never dreamed of.

Getting to ‘true SaaS’

When implementing modern BI solutions, it’s important to consider the implications of what the “cloud” really means. Too often, companies are hobbled by BI tools that live in the cloud but are not fully managed software as a service (SaaS). What’s more, they not only need to be installed within your cloud environment, but they force you to manage the clusters, servers, and capacity on your own—and pay for it.

That arrangement creates undue stress on the BI professionals responsible for the platform. After all, are you really sure that your servers and clusters can handle the power requirements your BI solution is demanding? Probably not.

That’s why a true SaaS solution is preferable in the modern BI space. By simply offloading all server requirements to their cloud BI provider, companies don’t need to worry about having enough “juice,” nor do they need to experience the headache of managing upgrades and capacity.

Looking ahead

It’s an exciting time for BI. Thanks to the cloud and modern BI, we now have unfettered access to unlimited data, regardless of where it’s living, and can truly scale data access and analytics.

Therefore, for companies that are willing to embrace what cloud-powered, modern BI can deliver, the road ahead looks promising. With modern BI’s help, they can build a new foundation for understanding their business, and proactively act on the insights they gather.

About the Author

Ben Schein is Vice President, Data Curiosity at Domo. Ben has been making a mess with data for more than 20 years, leading business intelligence (BI), analytics and finance teams. He is an expert in user adoption and implementing large-scale BI and analytics initiatives. Ben spent ten years breaking and making things at U.S. retailer Target Corporation before joining Domo in 2018 where, as Vice President of Data Curiosity, he works to spark the fire of data curiosity in enterprises large and small across the world.

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