As per a report from Business Wire, the business intelligence market is projected to attain a value of $40.5 billion by 2026, showcasing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% from 2021 to 2026. This substantial growth is not unexpected, given that business intelligence empowers enterprises to enhance profitability, identify avenues for expansion, and facilitate comprehensive digital transformations.
Cloud-based business intelligence, or simply cloud BI, transforms data into actionable insights, which take place in the cloud, either partially or fully. The crux of this approach is to maintain the competitive advantage of making data-driven decisions without over-reliance on physical hardware. You may wonder why you should opt for cloud-based business intelligence instead of traditional BI. What benefits can you gain from leveraging cloud-based BI? This article will delve into these questions and provide comprehensive insights.
Cloud BI vs. traditional BI
Making informed decisions backed by data and insights is crucial for the success of companies. With the exponential growth of businesses, there is a corresponding surge in the volume of data that needs to be analyzed. Hence, adopting business intelligence has become imperative for every company striving to thrive in the competitive market.
There are two primary approaches regarding business intelligence: traditional or on-premise BI and cloud-based BI analytics. Each method presents its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into these approaches, exploring their merits and drawbacks.
For enterprises grappling with the challenge of processing vast amounts of data, often measured in terabytes daily, cloud BI solutions emerge as the only feasible choice. Now, let's delve into a comprehensive examination of the benefits offered by cloud-based business intelligence.
How you can benefit from BI on cloud computing
The individual departments within your organization function as unique systems, each possessing specific characteristics that warrant attention. Information gathered from these departments originates from varying contexts and requires a holistic platform for comprehensive analysis. This need is the primary motivator propelling most businesses towards cloud-based BI, as it delivers such a platform. The cloud environment supports the development of Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) processes, reporting, and the utilization of required tools, among other capabilities.
Through cloud analytics, your organization can potentially:
1. Minimize overhead
The absence of adequate analysis can obscure the understanding of excessive expenses and potential areas for optimization. Cloud BI provides comprehensive reports with actionable insights that help pinpoint inefficiencies in business operations. Consequently, adopting cloud-based BI can enhance operational efficiency, reducing overhead costs.
2. Store and analyze all your data in one place
Leading BI cloud providers present solutions that accommodate the use of necessary tools, including those offered by alternative cloud vendors. For instance, while utilizing the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud, you can concurrently construct data pipelines using Azure's Data Factory. These cloud providers also present an integrated platform to analyze performance across various business departments. All your data is stored within a single accessible cloud.
For example, our team at N-iX helped a Global Fortune 100 international engineering and technology firm implement a cloud BI solution. This firm operates in over 60 countries, managed through a complex network of more than 440 subsidiaries and regional entities. The goal was to enhance inventory management across multiple warehouses due to the challenges of scaling their existing logistics solution.
N-iX experts helped to transform their logistics platform using a microservices architecture, DevOps best practices, and the implementation of advanced technologies such as AI, ML, NLP, and Computer Vision. We utilized the Azure SQL database to integrate data from nine independent subsystems. Data Factory was leveraged to upload this data incrementally every hour. Our team also streamlined the analysis processes to facilitate the optimization of the production chain.
3. Make informed business decisions
Cloud solutions aim to optimize existing processes and foster business growth. The generated reports and dashboards offer valuable insights into your company's operations, highlighting areas for improvement and optimization. As a result, you can structure your business processes for maximum efficiency. For instance, insights may reveal a deficiency in specific components crucial to the functionality of your machinery. With this knowledge, you can procure these components and enhance production.
However, despite the numerous benefits of cloud business intelligence, it's also essential to be aware of potential challenges emerging during its adoption.
Cloud BI challenges and how to address them
1. Cost considerations
Some businesses hesitate to adopt a BI solution due to cost concerns. This approach, however, often stems from a short-term perspective. In the long run, overhead costs may escalate. Even though cloud solutions can initially appear expensive, their high scalability allows for incremental implementation.
Mitigation strategy. Instead of deploying cloud-based BI analytics across all departments simultaneously, prioritize based on necessity. Consider a factory setting where various departments require analysis. However, specific departments, such as production, may necessitate more immediate analysis due to their direct impact on revenue.
2. Complex discovery phase needed for cloud computing BI
Engaging with BI in the cloud requires an extensive discovery phase that could span from a couple of weeks to two months. Your vendor must thoroughly understand your business needs and requirements, provide a cost estimate for cloud-based BI solutions, and more. All these processes require significant time and ongoing communication.
Mitigation strategy: Partner with a technology provider with robust expertise in delivering an extensive product discovery phase. Such a provider typically has a well-structured approach to the discovery phase and can execute it efficiently and promptly.
3. Partnering with a skilled team
Implementing BI on the cloud requires a team of highly skilled experts with in-depth knowledge of the necessary tools. This team typically includes data engineers, BI engineers for database management, Cloud DevOps professionals, and data analysts for correct BI tool usage and report/dashboard creation.
Mitigation strategy. Consider establishing a tech partnership with a reputable tech provider to satisfy your requirements. This approach lets your provider suggest the optimal team structure for your business needs.
Now, let's delve into the skills your team should possess to implement BI on cloud computing effectively.
What skills do experts need to develop cloud BI solutions?
- Data engineering. Data engineers construct pipelines that facilitate the ingestion, storage, and processing of substantial data sets from diverse sources. They are also tasked with creating data lakes and warehouses to preserve existing data.
- Design. Proficiency in data visualization, encompassing live dashboards, interactive reports, charts, graphs, etc., is critical for promptly and effectively presenting business insights.
- Tool proficiency. An in-depth understanding of essential tools leading cloud providers offer is essential.
Cloud BI best tools
Cloud vendors typically offer three main tools for data management, discovery, and analysis. The best tools often depend on your requirements, the operational environment, and other factors. This section will explore the principal tools leading cloud vendors provide, such as Azure, AWS, and GCP.
Azure is likely your optimal choice if your organization operates within the Microsoft ecosystem. Azure offers an extensive suite of tools for implementing BI on cloud solutions. A few noteworthy ones include:
Azure SQL Database. This relational database leverages AI-powered features to optimize performance and durability. It also offers auto-scaling via serverless computing and hyperscale storage options.
Data factory. As an Azure ETL tool, Data Factory is utilized for serverless data migration and transformation, preparing clean data for business needs.
Cosmos DB. A NoSQL database service for app development, Cosmos DB enables rapid scalability and high performance, withstanding heavy system loads. It is typically used for solutions like IoT.
Azure DevOps. A comprehensive tool that manages the entire application lifecycle, from version control and requirements management to project management, automated builds, testing, release management, and reporting. It enhances DevOps capabilities.
PostgreSQL is a relational database management system emphasizing extensibility and SQL compliance.
Redshift is a fully managed data warehouse service that is built on PostgreSQL. Besides cloud-based BI, it is used for operational analytics, data sharing, and predictive analytics.
DynamoDB is a fully managed NoSQL database with high performance and built-in security, backup, restore, and in-memory caching.
BigQuery is a cloud data warehouse solution provided by Google. This product does not have virtual machines, setting keys/indexes, or software. There is no need to deploy multiple clusters and duplicate data into each one with this tool, as it has separate storage and computing. It is used for data warehouse migration, predictive analytics, and data consolidation.
Apache Airflow authors, schedules, and monitors workflows, visually representing production pipelines, monitoring progress, and troubleshooting issues.
MongoDB is a cross-platform document-oriented NoSQL database. It is a highly secure cloud business intelligence solution deployed in a unique Virtual Private Cloud to provide network isolation.
These tools help to run a smooth and efficient BI in the cloud process. At N-iX, we have extensive experience with the mentioned tools and can integrate them into your custom solution.
Why implement BI solutions with N-iX?
- Our team is enhanced by over 400 seasoned Cloud engineers who hold deep-seated expertise in working with BI on the cloud;
- N-iX has more than 150 Cloud projects in its portfolio, an achievement recognized by ISG for excellence in public Cloud services;
- We provide comprehensive services necessary for successful Business Intelligence implementation, encompassing BI consulting, solution deployment, and modernization;
- N-iX has set its position as a leading provider with robust expertise across many technologies, including Cloud, Big Data, Data Science, Business Intelligence, and more;
- As an AWS Consulting Partner and Microsoft Solution Partner, N-iX is positioned to offer our clients a broad spectrum of advanced Cloud-based solutions.