Let’s start with a bit of background on the evolution of the landscape of business intelligence software. As analytics have gotten more complex and data sets have gotten larger, companies have become far more reliant on their IT department to run complex reports that require training to complete. Because of this, a bottleneck begins to occur as the need for analysis starts to exceed the speed at which they can be completed.
For growing SaaS companies, this problem is even more critical because most cannot afford a large IT department but still need the same level of analysis to track their metrics. The rise of business intelligence tools as a method of “democratizing information access” has given sales reps and analysts the ability to analyze data themselves. This allows anyone within the company to use numbers rather than just theories, to back up business reports and decisions.
“The Business Intelligence and Analytics market is in the final stages of a multiyear shift from IT-led, system-of-record reporting to pervasive, business-led, self-service analytics. Organizations will continue to transition to easy-to-use, fast, agile, and trusted modern BI&A platforms deployed across the enterprise to create business value from deeper insights into diverse data sources.”
—Rita Sallam, Research VP, Gartner
As a group that is willing to embrace any tool that helps them do their job better, the next group of BI users are salespeople.
How Do you know you’re ready for BI?
Investing in a BI software is a big commitment, both monetarily and time-wise to train your reps to use the software. Before you start looking into what software to buy, you should be sure that your standard analytics software has reached these thresholds and is no longer powerful enough to give you the insights you need.
For Catalant, a marketplace that connects businesses with independent experts around the world, a combination of factors convinced them that it was time to invest in a BI solution. Jack Montgomery, Head of Sales Ops at Catalant, spoke to us about how Catalant reached a point where they wanted to scale the team and grow the business, and they wanted a reporting tool that would help rapidly onboard salespeople and act as an engine of scalable growth.
“I think the biggest challenge for someone who is running an organization that is growing rapidly, is the requests for analytics start coming in hot and fast. If you’re not building for scalability in terms of automated reporting instead of building in Excel, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of trouble.”
–Jack Montgomery, Head of Sales Ops, Catalant
Depending on how your company is structured, reaching any of these thresholds may be enough to warrant the need to consider a BI solution:
- IT has become a bottleneck. You should not be limited by the speed at which your technicians can run analysis. If your reps find themselves waiting on reports to come through because your current solution requires a lot of IT expertise to use, it’s time to look for a faster solution that everyone can use.
- You have too much data, but not enough information. Your analytics should be taking advantage of every aspect of the data you’re gathering to give you a full view of your company. If you find that you’re monitoring and gathering tons of data, but that you don’t know how to make sense of it or aren’t using it to find out what improvements are needed, you should be upgrading to a system that can make use of all your data.
- You have data coming in from multiple sources, but joining them is a pain. It’s likely that you have more than one source of data input, depending on how your company is set up. Your analytics software should easily pool this data into one location and convert it into a format that’s ready for analysis. If you find yourself dreading joining data from different sources and wasting lots of time finding ways to do so, it’s time to upgrade.