Data Management Tag

As the amount of data and the pace of business increases, the need to manage and analyze data in a user-friendly platform is undeniable. Business Intelligence (BI) tools are the go-to solutions for transforming data into actionable knowledge that informs your organization’s strategic and tactical business decisions. With a variety of vendors to choose from, and that all seem to offer similar features and make similar promises, selecting a BI tool can be a lengthy process. So here are five things you should consider when choosing your BI tool:

1. Integration

To narrow down your BI tool choices, you need to select a standalone solution or an integrated solution. If you’re considering a standalone solution, you will have no shortage of options. However, you may experience low adoption rates due to these solutions existing in a separate application. It all goes back to that adage: out of sight, out of mind. Whereas reports in integrated solutions can be accessed and viewed through any pre-existing applications, websites, and services within your company – locations that users are already familiar with and use regularly.

Pro tip: If you choose to move forward with an integrated solution, you should ask if it is partially or fully integrated since some companies may not specify.

2. Data Management

Data management is at the core of everything you want to accomplish with a BI tool. When you are choosing the best BI tool for your organization, you have to consider your data and the functionality you’re seeking. The solution you choose should support access to multiple data sources (i.e., data warehouses, internal databases, the cloud and data marts), and depending on the disparate sources you are using, it may also need to cleanse and transform your data for proper use within its system. You will need to determine whether the tool must import data into its store before processing it, or if it can handle data queries on the fly – the answer to this question could have a notable impact on the speed at which you can access your data. You also need to ensure that the tool enables data manipulation once imported and find out what the limitations are on data capacity.

Pro tip: Some BI tools load your existing database data into their software and generate reports from there, saving you time from setting up your own data infrastructure. This type of tool could work if your data is small and fragmented. However, as your data increases, the cost incurred will also increase, and you would be limited to the functionality provided by the BI tool since your data would be stored within it.

3. Security

Security is non-negotiable for today’s mobile workforce. For internal security concerns such as access credentials, you must ensure the BI tool you are planning to buy is well equipped with proper encryption mechanisms. The tool should also offer you options to set the necessary permissions for protecting sensitive or proprietary information. These credentialing capabilities guarantee that secure data cannot be accessed, transmitted or altered by unauthorized users.

4. Visual Functionality & Usability

Your business intelligence reporting tool is the face of the whole operation. It’s what your users will refer to when making business decisions. So while ease-of-use, visual appeal, and intuitiveness may seem like nice-to-haves vs. need-to-haves, those user experience nuances can make the difference between successful user adoption or a refusal by employees to use the new system.

Pro tip: When deciding on a tool, you need to ask yourself the following questions

  • Is the tool easy to use?
  • Does the tool support a variety of user types?
  • Does the tool’s data visualization allow for customization and flexibility to support your goals and the requirements of the many functional groups in your organization?

 

5. Customization

No organization is the same in its operations and needs. You need to select a BI vendor that can support your requirements of today and in the future. It’s important to keep in mind that some vendors only provide minimal customization abilities, and others don’t give organizations the ability to expand. While this might work for a few companies, most will need a custom set-up –one that can integrate flawlessly into their operations, and develop as they grow.

In our buzzword-heavy industry, it isn’t uncommon to believe that some keywords can have the same meaning – for example, data management and information management. Is there a difference between the two? After all, data is information — right? Well, yes and no.

What is Data?

Data is defined as, “Qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables.” Data is more than one such attribute value. Is data information? Yes, information is provided by data but only because data is always specified in some abstract setting. The setting includes:

  • The class to which the attribute belongs
  • The object which is a member of that class
  • Some ideas about object operations or behavior, and relationships to other objects and classes.

Data alone and in the abstract does not provide information.

What is Information?

Information is described as, “that which informs — the answer to a question of some kind. It is thus related to data and knowledge, as data represents values attributed to parameters, and knowledge signifies understanding of real things or abstract concepts.”
Data in its most basic digital format does not provide information. But when it’s combined with other data or is manipulated in some way, that’s when the organization derives value from the information — which then leads to knowledge.

Information Management vs Data Management

The process of information management involves the collecting, maintaining, and storing of information in every available format. When thinking about information management, it is the process of managing individuals whereby the technology and processes are providing control over the delivery, processing, structure, and usage of the information required for business and management purposes. No matter if the informational format is physical or electronic information, the organizational structure must have the capability of managing its information, as well as deliver to multiple channels throughout its life cycle.

Data management is a subset of information management. Data management takes the information a company has and ensures the data is accurate, available, secure, and complete. The process involves the facilitation of a variety of techniques providing that there is control over data from the time of its creation until the time of its deletion. Examples of data management include creating data governance policies, database management system integration, architecture and analysis, and data source identification and data security to name a few.

Why Both Matter to Your Business

When you utilize information and data management, you’re less likely to experience issues with loss of data, use of outdated information, security issues, breaches occurring, or mishandling of information or data. It’s critical for your company to work with contractors with a firm understanding of how to manage both – information and data- to ensure the smooth operation of your business practices with minimal risks.

By understanding the nuances of information management and data management, you can identify gaps in your approach and create a framework that drives high-quality data and, from this, more informed decision-making.