When the need for new software arises, SMB companies are often tempted to take the job in-house. For many the decision to build and maintain a custom ‘homegrown’ Business Intelligence (BI) solution will have been based on seemingly reasonable considerations, including the cost of available options, lack of functionality in existing third party solutions and the difficulty of integrating software.
However, this is often false economy; statistically, 60% of homegrown BI solutions fail to meet expectations. Choosing to develop a system in-house is not only extremely time consuming, but without enough technical experience, the resulting BI solution often underperforms. Many employees still wait weeks for their IT department to compile reports that are already out-of-date by the time they are completed, creating a lack of confidence in the information needed for critical decision making.
To help you decide whether you should be looking to retire your current system in favour of an intelligent insight BI solution, ask yourself these six questions:
Does your current solution meet – and can it continue to meet – your requirements?
Useful BI needs to be a collaborative project between IT and the rest of the organisation to find out what capabilities are really important. What’s more, product development doesn’t end there; whilst it may take years to develop a business intelligence application, it requires ongoing maintenance and support to continue developing the features and enhancements end users demand. In addition, home-grown software often lacks the infrastructure to support growing a user base.
Is it user-friendly?
User adoption is one of the biggest challenges facing Business Intelligence today. A recent study puts BI adoption rates among employees at 22%. Design and user experience of home-grown BI often falls short, as it is created by developers who do not specialise in developing BI and analytics solutions. Although some BI environments are designed to be ‘self serve’ they can sometimes be overwhelming and complicated for end users, meaning that there is a high likelihood that the platform won’t get used. This in turn affects company growth: how will you recruit good talent if potential employees don’t want to work in a custom built environment, but rather access industry-leading tools and technology that will enable them to perform their jobs better?
Does it offer the right functionality?
Home-grown solutions tend to lack vital functionality, such as real-time reporting, drag-and-drop user interfaces, dashboards, visualisations or collaboration tools. Developer tool kits rarely integrate seamlessly with home-grown BI solutions. They often require extra steps to export data to make it work inside a reporting application and doesn’t offer the ability to drill down into data. Today’s users have high and continuously expanding demands. They expect to be able to access BI via a mobile device, customise the interface and information to their specific needs and swiftly target relevant data. Using business intelligence dashboard software means it’s easily accessible via desktop, laptop, mobile or tablet so you can see how your organisation or department is performing whenever and wherever you choose.
Does it leave you in a vulnerable position?
Tools that were developed independently and may not have been designed to integrate can expose an organisation to security and compliance issues. Self-service functionality provides additional challenges as management of roles and access rights across multiple tools can be complex. There is also the risk that developers and end users who are unfamiliar with how to meet regulatory requirements on handling data may raise non-compliance issues.
Does it stay on top of new trends and advances?
Home-grown systems miss out on the benefits of other leading distributors’ knowledge and experiences. BI professionals spend up to 90 percent of their time just building and maintaining ETL processes. Most business intelligence tools were designed decades ago for a much simpler data environment and haven’t kept up with the rapidly evolving enterprise data landscape. Software companies are in the business of not only developing their software, but also staying on top of new trends and advances that can benefit them. Dynistics works with many organisations across a number of different market sectors which means we have the necessary experience to help you discover the insights you need.
Is it cost-effective?
In-house BI software can be far more costly than it first appears when you add up the salaries of your development team, the downtime in user departments during all phases of development, and the opportunity cost of not putting developers on other projects to propel your business forward. You can plan to spend a year or more building a home-grown BI platform, whereas a third-party solution can be integrated in 30-60 days, realising your ROI far earlier. In addition, the maintenance of custom applications is time-intensive, slow, and fraught with undocumented functions, and there’s little in the way of essential features such as security, self-serve reporting, scheduling and mobile support.
For SMBs in particular, the economics of building a custom BI solution in house just doesn’t make sense. As user expectations regarding usability, more self-service and greater data discovery increase, layering an application with a myriad of tool kits and libraries adds additional complexity and cost.
While your home-grown BI system may meet requirements for now, the chances are that without business intelligence dashboard software you are missing out on the advanced functionality that could greatly improve your business operations, employee productivity and profitability, by delivering access to more timely information delivering greater insight on real time operations.