business-intelligenceAs data gets bigger and smart businesses look for new ways to exploit it, the demand for sophisticated database tools is rapidly increasing.

Business Intelligence (BI) is a category of software that helps users extract insightful information from raw data. The BI industry has seen so much growth that Forrester ranked it as the No.1 project priority for companies in 2013.

The era of business leaders making decisions based on intuition or experience is long gone. Instead, the modern business environment calls for decision makers to respond faster with greater insights into ever-changing data. The ability to analyze data and draw actionable conclusions is often the key to achieving competitive advantages and bigger profits.

However, according to Forrester, the majority of traditional BI applications, regardless of how technically advanced they are, produce a serious side effect – a growing IT backlog of BI requests.

Forrester has identified three major reasons for unfulfilled BI requests:

1. BI requirements change faster than IT can keep up.
BI applications require a much faster turn-around time compared to an ERP or CRM system, since the business environment is frequently changing all the time. Relying on IT to fulfill BI requests can easily put the organization’s initiatives in jeopardy.

2. Conventional development approaches are poorly suited for BI projects.
The commonly adopted waterfall method for the software development life cycle (SDLC) simply doesn’t work for the majority of BI requirements. The reporting and analysis needs of the end users vary greatly depending on the specific use cases. And oftentimes end users need to play around with the application in order to figure out the real requirements.

3. Business leaders and IT often don’t see eye-to-eye on BI priorities.
While executives seek to fulfill business requirements as soon as they emerge, IT, on the other hand, wants to follow approved procedures to maintain the law and order of the IT environment.

The challenge then becomes how to effectively meet growing BI demands without disrupting IT. Forrester indicates that the solution lies in self-service BI, and they maintain that in an ideal environment, 80% of all BI applications should be implemented by the business users themselves.

By definition, self-service BI means that end users can design and deploy their own reports and analysis within a supported architecture and approved tools portfolio.

Caspio’s DIY cloud database enables self-service BI.

As a cloud database pioneer, Caspio empowers business users to conceive and design database applications without requiring IT skills or resources. The Platform-as-a-Service helps businesses shrink application development time from weeks to hours, enabling companies to respond to emerging requirements much faster.

The majority of BI requirements center around data, and Caspio makes it easy to import large amounts of data and start building sophisticated applications. Within minutes, you can generate ad-hoc reports and customized data drilldowns to get an immediate user-friendly view of your entire database. The point-and-click wizards help you iterate and extend your applications further with data visualizations, grouping, aggregations, calculations, and dashboards for a wide range of data perspectives.

Furthermore, the platform provides a complete toolset to create self-service BI environments across an entire organization. Caspio provides a built-in authentication module to manage role-based access levels for different users and groups. If you want to move data between the cloud database and other systems, Caspio DataHub is designed to automate data import and export as scheduled tasks. Caspio also offers a Microsoft Office Plugin to bring the latest online data into your local Microsoft Access and Excel programs and keep it refreshed.

Robust security and standard-based architecture help address IT concerns.

In the aforementioned report, Forrester points out that security is a major concern preventing IT from embracing self-service BI. Caspio has adopted a multi-layered approach to ensure the security of customers’ data and applications. The standards-based platform also provides extra peace of mind in the areas of flexibility, compatibility, extendibility and ease of integration.

Ultimately, a DIY platform like Caspio not only empowers business users to build applications to their exact requirements, it also helps IT reduce backlogs and bottlenecks.

We encourage you to gather your BI requirements and request a free project consultation, or start a free trial to try it out for yourself.