We are living in the era of Information, where organizations are utilizing, exploring, and building new technologies to do business. As a result, exploding volumes of data are getting generated, and just in the past two years, we have generated data that is much more than in the entire previous history of the human race . Hence, the curiosity to utilize this data to understand underlying trends, anomalies to enhance the functioning of the business is increasing. To help solve the mystery in the data, Business Intelligence is being rapidly utilized by businesses to analyze data to enhance their business processes and decision-making ability. As per Nucleus Research, organizations can earn an average of $10.66 for every dollar spent on deployments of analytics applications like Business Intelligence, performance management, and predictive analytics . This shows how Business Intelligence is empowering businesses to make rapid data-driven decisions, optimize business processes, and eventually increase their revenue.
In this article, I have explored the Business Intelligence domain and various Business Intelligence tools available in the market. I have further analyzed Tableau, a leading data visualization tool, and analyzed its impact on Sales and marketing.
Business Intelligence industry Overview
The Global Business Intelligence industry is growing very rapidly. Currently, it is valued at $14.7 Billion and is expected to reach $29.48 billion by 2022. The increase in adoption of Business Intelligence solutions can be attributed to the Banking industry which makes up 13.9 % of the total revenue of the Business Intelligence industry. The other industries which are increasing the adoption of Business Intelligence solutions include IT and Telecommunication, Retail, and Healthcare. Furthermore, the North American region dominates the Business Intelligence industry owing to the huge presence of industry players over there, increasing trend of data analytics, and increasing R and D activities in technologies .
The Business Intelligence industry landscape is very competitive. It has many established players like Microsoft Corporation, Cisco Systems, Inc., IBM Corporation, etc. In this industry, consolidations are also taking place in form of mergers, acquisitions, collaboration, etc. Few niche players of this segment are Tableau, Qlik, etc. which are more focused on advanced visualization.
A few of the key drivers behind the growth in the Business Intelligence industry are:
- The boom in data: As technology has become an integral part of our lives it has led to the explosion of data. Every single day the volume of big data creation is amounting to 2.4 Quintillion bytes. As a result, the need to understand the underlying trends and explore data to make decisions is increasing leading to an increase in demand for business intelligence solutions .
- Demand for Data as a service: Businesses have understood the potential and benefits of using BI solutions like optimizing internal business processes, enhancing decision making, driving revenue growth, and increasing competitive advantage over customers due to which demand for BI solutions has increased substantially .
- Predictive analytics: The demand for solutions utilizing predictive analytics is also increasing. Since, BI solutions are being enhanced through the use of predictive analytics tools, its ability to enhance decision making has improved which has also driven its rapid adoption .
- Visual analytics: The ability to view huge amounts of data using interactive key performance dashboards, analyze underlying trends, get actionable insights to aid key business decision making has led to the rapid adoption of BI solutions .
Business Intelligence Tools
Business Intelligence tools help businesses to gather, process, analyze, and visualize large sets of data to generate actionable insights and eventually aid decision-making processes. Business Intelligence tools fall into two categories: Full-Stack Business Intelligence Tools and Data Visualization Tools .
Full-Stack Business Intelligence tools are enterprise-level tools that consolidate all data in the data warehouse. These tools are used by those organizations that want the ability to deliver consistent reporting across the organization. These tools offer on-premise solutions that are both difficult and expensive to implement. Few Full-stack BI tools available are:
- Microsoft BI
- IBM Cognos Analytics
- MicroStrategy Analytics
- Oracle Analytics Server
Data Visualization Tools are those which provide the business the ability to analyze a large amount of data from the disparate data sources and generate actionable insights through interactive dashboards. These tools are cheaper to implement and require lower support. Some of the Data Visualization Business Intelligence tools are:
- Tableau Desktop
- Tableau Server
- Qlik Sense
- TIBCO Spotfire
- Microsoft Power BI
Visual analytics using Tableau
Tableau is considered as a leader in the data visualization domain where it is being used by organizations to analyze their large datasets using its customizable, visually appealing graphs, charts, and dashboards. Tableau currently occupies 12.22% of the market share  and had about 86000 users in 2019.
Tableau’s mission is to help people see and understand data. It has capitalized on the ease of use of its software, low up-front cost, and collaborative capabilities to increase its customer base . Tableau offers a wide range of products built to suit the varying needs of its customers. Its diverse product range includes self-service analytics product Tableau Desktop, a platform of business intelligence for organizations called Tableau Online, a hosted software-as-a-service version of Tableau Server called Tableau Online, a free cloud platform to analyze data called Tableau Public, and intuitive data preparation tool Tableau Data Prep.
Now let’s analyze the various drivers which have led to such rapid adoption of Tableau.
- Ease of Use: Tableau enables users to create interactive key performance indicator dashboards using it's simple and easy to learn drag and drop interface. It also simplifies connecting tableau with different data sources which makes it easy to bring data into the tool and then create visualizations .
- Speed to market: Tableau is a very intuitive tool which processes and analyses the data in easy to follow and logical manner. As a result, Tableau dashboards can be created quickly which enables rapid decision making and thus provides a competitive advantage to businesses .
- Data transformation capabilities: Tableau enables users to easily leverage the database by connecting to different databases directly. Further, one can transform data in Tableau with its inbuilt Extract, Transform, and Loading (ETL) ability. For example, one can change data types, split, concatenate, blend data, etc. using Tableau. Thus, one can avoid the expenditure of investing in a separate ETL solution .
- Applicability: Tableau can be easily used by businesses, students, journalists, academia, etc. based on their needs which increases its utility. Students can use it for their projects, journalists can use it to display trends in markets, and academia can use to supplement their research .
Tableau SWOT Analysis
Strengths: Tableau's biggest strength is its strong brand portfolio owing to which it can easily expand its product categories. Their strength of brand portfolio is visible from the fact that it was first established as a computer science project at Stanford and with its continuous investment in research and development it has grown to bring products like Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, Tableau Online, Data Prep, and so on. Secondly, Tableau has a huge global community which helps in bringing together like-minded people and ensures they can easily get solutions to their problems. Furthermore, Tableau provides immense customer satisfaction to its users through its wide portfolio of mobile-friendly innovative solutions. For example, Tableau has made it easy for businesses to conduct data preparation with its tool Tableau Data Prep the drag and drop ability in Tableau desktop makes the process of creating visualization very easy. As a result, businesses are getting empowered and they are using these innovative solutions to fulfill their data needs
Weakness: Even though Tableau has revolutionized the data visualization space, it has a lot of limitations that impact its usability and adoption in the industry. Firstly, Tableau's license is costly for small and medium-sized corporations due to which Tableau is losing a significant market share. Secondly, Tableau is unable to provide centralized information level security which increases the security concerns for its vendors. Furthermore, it has poor after-sales support e.g. the support team has not conducted root cause analysis to eliminate the issue of package performance addressed by its clients .
Opportunities: With the ever-changing business landscape, Tableau needs to continuously invest in enhancing the tool to make it more relevant to the business needs. They can invest in enhancing their core products tableau desktop to provide better data visualization and data transformation capabilities. For example, Tableau should enhance its report generation and customization options for reports. Furthermore, with huge investments being made in predictive analytics Tableau should focus on supporting Predictive Model Markup Language and let users import and export predictive data models .
Threats: Tableau faces a huge threat from companies offering Business Intelligence software solutions like Microsoft's Power BI, QlikView, etc. These tools offer various advantages like Power BI's embedding reportability, access to over 85 data visualization applications, column-level security provision by Qliksense, etc. .
Case Study- Impact of Tableau in Sales and marketing
Business Intelligence offers huge benefits to organizations. As per Betterbuys.com, companies that use analytics are five times more likely to make faster decisions . Employing Business intelligence solutions helps in ensuring that companies have organized sources of data that enhance business processes and eventually improve decision-making ability. Implementation of Business intelligence tools like Tableau, Power BI, has also transformed Sales and marketing. Businesses can understand customer behavior which helps them in building more targeted marketing strategies. Further, it provides benefits like the ability to identify potential sales opportunities, provide accurate sales forecasts, and measure the success of sales promotional campaigns.
Now let’s look at a few cases to understand the impact of implementing BI tool-Tableau in the Sales marketing area of different organizations:
- Coco-Cola faced a lot of issues in maintaining reports of its sales vertical owing to manual reporting processes. As a result, they were unable to access real-time sales and operations data. Eventually, Coco-Cola opted for Tableau to amalgamate data being generated from different systems to create separate dashboards for each task. This helped them in exploring the potential of previously unutilized data. They were now able to analyze data for different departments and salespeople were also provided timely updates regarding the sales figures through mobile dashboards. Furthermore, Coco-Cola was able to automate the manual reporting process which led to a huge manual time saving of 260 hours a year .
- Allrecipes.com is a food-focused website which is visited by millions of people every year to learn and share cooking recipes. To understand how Allrecipes.com customer's preferences related to food changed over time, they wanted to analyze customer behavior. To fulfill this need, they used Tableau to bring together data from different platforms like adobe marketing sales cloud and Comscore, understand different stages of the customer journey, underlying trends in their visual analysis, track business health, getting notifications regarding emerging trends in dashboards, etc. As a result, they were able to become more responsive to the needs of their customer and enhance their brand experience .
- Initially, HelloFresh had manual, time-intensive, and inefficient reporting capability. As a result, they adopted Tableau as a centralized business intelligence solution which helped them in saving 10-20 working hours per day. This further helped them in designing customized marketing campaigns which led to the improvement in their conversion rates and customer retention .
- Verizon used manual and inefficient reporting capability to analyze the digital and call center metrics. To overcome this issue, they switched to Tableau which provided them unified reporting ability. As a result, they were able to reduce support calls by 43% and eventually enhance customer experience .
Having worked as a Business Intelligence solution architect, I have seen the impact of utilizing the visual analytics tool Tableau to enhance sales and marketing operations. Organizations are using Tableau to track the performance of Sales personnel and identify the factors associated with their performance. They further use it to identify anomalies in the current incentive plan and then enhance compensation fairness. In this way, Tableau analytics is used by business to identify factors which impact their employee’s performance and motivate them. Further, while working with a pharma client, I observed that are they are utilizing Tableau to gauge the effectiveness of their digital marketing campaigns, understand customer behavior, and eventually provide personalized healthcare.
Hence, Tableau is a Business Intelligence tool which has transformed and empowered sales and marketing by providing the ability to understand customer needs, determine the right sales and marketing channels for their customer, making accurate sales forecast, and even enhance the performance of sales rep by analyzing their performance.
Business intelligence tools help businesses by providing them benefits like fast and accurate reporting unified across the organization, better understanding of customer behavior, identification of market trends, increased operational efficiency, lower margin, and increase in revenue. Thus, one can conclude that every business should employ Business Intelligence tools as it helps them to enhance their decision-making ability which helps to stay competitive in the rapidly changing business environment.
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