With the reliance on IT departments for data analytics becoming less and less the norm, more business managers are performing analyses. This gives them more control, as well as improved agility in terms of decision making. That paradigm shift has, in many cases, tasked those same managers with choosing analytics software. Given the sheer volume of such tools released annually, many offering similar qualities and capabilities, understanding the factors to consider when choosing an analytics tool can be useful knowledge.
Your Objectives & Goals
The platform you choose should be capable of supporting your business objectives— both now and in the years to come. To ensure this, you’ll need to get clear on them yourself. What are your core aims? What are your desired outcomes? By what metrics can you determine whether your objectives are being met? The platform you choose should be capable of delivering the data and the reporting features you need to help you get to where you’re trying to be.
Acquisition Cost & Ongoing Expenses
Some people have the infrastructure in place to develop an analytics tool from scratch and maintain it post development. Those of us who do not must consider the expenses the various solutions under contemplation will entail. There may be subscription fees, expansion costs and other concealed fees. The costs can vary from platform to platform, so it is important to inquire about these before selecting.
User-Friendliness & Eye Appeal
Today’s IT people are being tasked with concerns more complex than helping your team figure out how to use a software platform. Therefore, the solution you choose must have a very shallow learning curve. Ideally, even the least tech-savvy individuals among your group should find the platform intuitive to use. Along those same lines, the user interface should employ an attractive and easy to read design.
The ability to recognize patterns and make predictions based upon what they reveal is key to the usefulness of an analytics platform. This means it needs to be capable of doing more than adding 2 + 2. You want a platform capable of delivering insights you can use to construct statistical models and prepare for future developments.
Can the platform be configured to communicate with applications you already use? If so, how easily can that be accomplished? Will you have to purchase expensive extras to make it function in that fashion? Can data be transferred seamlessly from the analytics platform in question to the rest of your system?
The ability to support data driven decision making in the field has become another important factor. Teams operate globally now and remote work has become a standard rather than an exception. Among the key considerations in this regard are the nature of the mobile capabilities your team will need and how much access to the platform they require while on the go. Will they just need to see dashboards and reports, or will they need to interact with them as well?
Ability to Scale
The best cloud-based analytics systems are capable of meeting your business where it is currently and expanding as your needs develop and change. This can give you a leg up on the competition when you’re starting out and continue providing support as you progress, even during periods of rapid growth.
Data comes from many different sources and in a variety of formats. The best analytics tools can draw from multiple sources, regardless of the complexity of the data. Similarly, regardless of whether the data is structured, semi-structured or unstructured, the platform is capable of working with it, without requiring assistance from your IT team.
Every organization has differing circumstances, even if their goals are largely the same. When reviewing tools, it’s important to look for a solution best suited to your particular needs. Failing that out of the box, the solution should readily lend itself to being customized to your requirements—both current and future.
Sharing, analyzing, and interacting with data as a group often leads to innovative insights. The analytics platform you choose should be capable of making those actions easy to accomplish, in a variety of content formats. Moreover, it should support the distribution of those insights to support collaborative decision-making.
Data is currency these days and wherever there’s currency, you can bet there are would-be interlopers looking to siphon it away. The platform you choose must have robust security protocols in place. Moreover, it should function at process, system, and data levels. You want strict control over who has access to what and the ability to restrict access to certain areas, while permitting it to others. It’s also important to be mindful of the challenges mobile users present when they need access to data outside of your firewalls.