Without Context Data Is Useless (and Why You’re Overpaying for BI Tools)

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Making decisions is a cornerstone of business management. We consider different viewpoints and resources to help us along the way. Aside from empirical insights, we often turn to our data to give us more insight and meaning into the context of how our business is actually functioning.

Accomplishing this task also requires us to turn our data points into critical insights that help us make decisions. However, everyone that owns a business does not possess an MBA. So, what does a manager do when he or she needs to glean value from the company numbers?

The simple solution is by using a business intelligence tool that features a rich, customized dashboard. Having one allows you to make decisions on-the-fly with zero regrets later.

You can better implement your context data and business intelligence efforts by first understanding how data, information, and intelligence work together.

Data vs. Information vs. Intelligence

You are likely familiar with the term business intelligence and have a working understanding of what it means. However, do you know why it’s valuable?

Organizations that utilize context data in business intelligence tools, you are better able to:

  • make decisions
  • increase competitive advantage
  • improve company performance

When evaluating your business intelligence opportunities, it’s critical to understand the differences between data, information, and intelligence. All three terms carry different meanings and function separately.

What Is Data?

Data is a raw form record about a person, place, or thing at a particular point in time. In short, it’s a simple snapshot of a singular event.

Data comes in the form of invoices, sales records, or conversations with customers. It’s the foundation of information and intelligence.

What Is Information?

Information is what your data produces. It gives you a little more context into the elements you are analyzing.

You give your data a narrative when it becomes information. It helps you answer questions like:

  • What is our company’s employee retention rate?
  • How is our sales performance compared to last year?
  • What is our cost of goods sold across our service lines?

The best way to think of information is that it gives way to insight. However, there is even a way to take it a step further.

What Is Intelligence?

Intelligence takes your data narrative (information) and gives it a complete story. It can take the information your data produces and turn it into actionable insights.

You can now answer questions like:

  • Which of our most profitable customers is likely to be our newest product offering?
  • Where do gaps in our company’s performance exist?
  • How do we better market our products and services?

All three of these elements are dependent upon one another. While they are different, they lay the bricks that fill in your wall of success. Ignoring them only creates fertile ground for negatively impacting your bottom line.

Obtaining Business Intelligence Is Easier Than It Used To Be

BI and context data management used to be just for major corporations. The tools needed to convert data into information were extremely expensive and needed an army of consultants and technical engineers to implement. These days there are many self-service BI tools that can enable even a solopreneur to tap into data to help grow their business.

But if you’re not careful, even today, you can be overpaying for BI tools and falling into the fallacy of marketing hype.

How To Bring Context To Business Data

One of the best ways to bring context to your business data is to centralize it and have a common method for everyone on the team to see and interact with it. For many small businesses, a common tool for this is the spreadsheet.

But spreadsheets as a primary method of business intelligence has limitations (we go into some of those in this article).

Our recommendation is to leverage dashboard software. Dashboards allow you to combine data from multiple sources into a holistic view. Accessing your data through a single location gives your business an edge over the competition, especially in smaller markets where most managers don’t have the time to implement a strategy (they are simply too busy getting it done!).

A dashboard is a central location where business intelligence and information meet. A well-design system makes it easy for you to operate while leveraging your data, tracking trends, and monitoring key performance indicators.

A dashboard can automate and cut down on time involving repetitive tasks or logging into multiple systems to view reports, or compiling lots of data manually into spreadsheets, which can save you money in the long run. Plus, as users become more familiar with the system, they become even more efficient at performing their jobs.

In addition to convenience, dashboards allow you to compare and analyze data from multiple perspectives. Doing so can lead to new information or insights that previously went unnoticed. Dashboards of today offer an array of sophisticated tools that lead to actionable insights across your entire organization.

Why You’re Probably Overpaying for BI Tools

The BI software industry is dominated by giants today. Microsoft, Business Objects, Salesforce (who owns Tableau now), Oracle, and more.

We won’t get into the pros and cons of each product from a technical perspective (we cover more of that in our Straight Talk Reviews category) but one thing common to all major BI tools in the industry, they are all subscription-based. And for the few that do offer a perpetual license, it gets very expensive.

Subscriptions in concept started out wonderfully for small to medium-sized businesses. Subscriptions allowed businesses to start using software at a more affordable monthly or yearly price rather than pay the expensive perpetual license to own it outright.

But over time, as the subscription price model has become the standard, the reality now is that subscriptions have started to become more and more expensive, and instead of being great for business, it has become a ball and chain. A bill that has to be paid each month or year, and if you don’t, you lose access to the software and your data.

Business software subscriptions have become a utility bill, don’t pay, the lights go off.

How DashboardFox Can Help Bring Context To Data

So far we’ve laid out the concept of data to information to intelligence.

And we’ve talked about the value of Dashboard software for making this available to your team.

And we’ve exposed how other BI vendors are using the power of business data and subscription software licenses to maximize the profits of their business (while eating up your bottom line).

How can DashboardFox interrupt this pattern?

By providing a BI platform in a one-time fee, perpetual license, that is affordable.

Our advice to any organization is to not spend more on Business Intelligence software than the value of the problem BI is solving in your business.

In many cases, businesses fall for the trap of seeing BI software as a utility, as something necessary and something they are willing to pay annually for, regardless of how much the total cost over time becomes. It’s a trap because in some cases, they think they just need the solution for the short term, and subscriptions are great for short-term investments.

But in reality, Business Intelligence is a core part of your business and is something typically you leverage for the entire life of your business. Subscriptions last forever at that point.

DashboardFox provides you a powerful, enterprise quality, BI platform. Included out of the box are interactive dashboards, data visualizations, custom reporting, data security, email scheduling, and more.

And DashboardFox is affordable. You can purchase single licenses or concurrent licenses to fit your business use case and you pay once and can use the software for life.

How is that possible? Just like the perpetual software models of old, included in your initial purchase is 1 year of priority support and upgrades. It’s your option if you want to renew either after the first year. If the current version of the software fits all your needs, you can continue to use it after the first year and not pay another penny.

But now the burden to earn your business falls on the vendor. Our goal is to continue to wow you and improve DashboardFox so that you want to renew after the first year to get new updates. And the best part, you’re not paying full price to get those upgrades like in the subscription pricing model, it’s just a small fraction of your initial purchase.

Contact Us To Learn More About DashboardFox

Hopefully, at this point, you see the value and have learned about an option in the BI sector that you previously didn’t know about. Let’s continue the discussion. Reach out for a live demo and speak with one of our technical experts (not a sales associate) and let’s discuss your requirements and see if DashboardFox is a match.

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