The cloud is most often discussed in the context of its scalability, mobility and its collaborative benefits. Regarding scalability, many cloud-based services are convenient because they don’t strain the existing internal IT infrastructure or require a large investment. As an alternative, the provider hosts the web-based service or application from a data center. This means that as an organization grows, it doesn’t necessarily have to increase the capacity of its on-premises servers.
Mobility is another undeniable super power that the cloud bestows upon its users. Wireless accessibility is more easily achieved since any authorized user who is internet connected can still access the full complement of apps and data he or she needs – from any device.
Then there are the collaborative benefits: Everything that happens in the cloud happens in a real time, shared virtual environment.
All of the above positively influence the creation, accessibility and manipulation of corporate data, but they don’t address one of the most important cornerstones of any business: enterprise analytics.
BI in the Cloud: What Does It Look Like?
In an extensive report conducted by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) which was published in 2015, researchers found that seven in 10 managers foresaw their organizations using cloud-based business intelligence and other forms of business data analytics within the next two years. The status-quo for BI solutions is that they tend to live on-premise with corporate data, and this can create some problems.
HBR used the example of a financial institution that had footholds in many locations across the globe. Each branch had a different methodology for accessing and organizing data, creating time-consuming uniformity issues in reports that ultimately made it difficult to extract business insights, and make intelligent decisions. To remediate this problem, the financial company launched a cloud-based analytics platform through which all of its disparate data could be parsed.
Granted, this was a multi-step process that required integration with specific enterprise applications, but it’s one that paid off. Employees had access to consistent BI visualizations (collaborative benefits) even though they were situated in different geographical regions (mobility). Furthermore, this took significant strain off IT departments, which previously required consultation when users wanted to collect and analyze data.
With consistent access to enterprise data, the ability to create business reports which positively impact the direction of corporate initiatives is enhanced.
What to Consider When Transitioning to Cloud Analytics
BI is clearly enhanced by cloud technology. Given that HBR’s report discovered that only 3 percent of organizations would describe their business data analytics capabilities as “very good,” cloud analytics will hopefully be a huge step in the right direction for the other 97 percent.
“Look for a key set of features when making the switch.”
That said, like any form of technology, this transition needs to be well thought out. Furthermore, using any old cloud-based BI tool won’t solve many of the problems that decision-makers face as they leverage BI solutions to extract actionable information.
For instance, 67 percent of respondents to HBR’s survey cited an inability to identify and track relevant metrics as a challenge. Meanwhile, 60 percent referenced the problem of the complex user interface, 47 percent complained about a “lack of data visualization,” and 38 percent said that “reports and dashboards are too standardized.”
Cloud analytics certainly have the potential to be more mobile, collaborative and scalable (hence the industry could be worth $4 billion by 2017). However, all of the problems mentioned above won’t be ameliorated with a subpar, cloud-based analytics solution.
It’s therefore important to look for a key set of features when making the switch. Orbit Cloud, for example, makes it easier to work with relevant business metrics by integrating with popular business applications such as Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Salesforce, and Taleo, It also supplies a strong user interface that makes it easy to drill deeper into data sets thanks with highly functional data visualizations.
Orbit dashboards provide advanced interactive solutions for managers and executives to visualize relevant information for improved decision-making. Powerful visualization choices such as charts, gauges, sliders and maps empower the end user to click into the visuals, all the way down to the lowest level of detail required to interpret the facts. Last but not least, Orbit Cloud has hundreds of preloaded report templates to choose from, and countless personalization capabilities so as to accommodate the unique needs of any given organization.
There are many benefits to be gained from cloud computing, and stronger enterprise analytics are among them – but don’t get too cloud happy. Make sure that the BI solution you choose has the same fluidity in functionality, and maturity in UI that you’d demand from any other enterprise application.