Business Intelligence Tools: The Good and the Less Good

Let’s face it: All the data that marketers are gathering and storing isn’t all that helpful if we don’t have ways to quickly retrieve and analyze it. That’s why business intelligence (BI) tools are a must-have in the ad tech world. Still, fantastic though they are, BI tools can’t always do exactly what we need them to. BI tools are still a relatively new technology and that means there’s still some room for improvement. Let’s take a closer at the good – the solution we chose was DOMO- and the less-good of working with BI tools.

The Good

If you’ve ever worked with large data sets without BI tools, then you’ll appreciate “the good” right away. Domo’s data visualization abilities are particularly user friendly even for the less tech inclined executives. You can quickly gather valuable insights and card options allow you to map out your data. You can synchronize data from your favorite marketing tools, such as Salesforce, Marketo, Google Analytics, AdWords, etc. You can even synchronize organic social media metrics from the leading social platforms. And with all your data in one place – and key metrics updated in real-time – you’re inevitably going to make smarter business decisions.

Good BI software, like DOMO, is usually a breeze to use. However, even user friendly tools have their limits. We’ve found that DOMO’s help center, DOMO University, is quite extensive. DOMO University offers certifications and training to learn the DOMO features and test them on a beta account. DOMO even offers an entire class and certification dedicated specifically to understanding the software’s Beast Mode and Data Flow features, which tackle the “SQL challenge” (mentioned below).

The Less-Good

The great appeal of BI tools is that you can use them and gain valuable insights without calling on your already over-worked IT team every twenty minutes. But some BI tools are easier to use than others. Tying in revenue and splitting up variables is pretty cumbersome and requires coding. And getting the absolute most out of the tools can require some decent tech skills. You still need a certain level of structured query language knowledge to combine unique data sources, such as Google Analytics and Salesforce, to relate the metrics into one reporting card or to build certain trend or forecast reports.

You’re also going to need a bit of technical skill if you want to manually integrate some of your lesser used data sets such as paid media reporting from social or third parties into your BI analysis. And the learning curve can be fairly big once you go down that path.

Does this mean you should avoid BI tools? Absolutely not. No technology is perfect and imperfect tools are still much better than no tools. The amount of data marketers need to store, analyze and compare is already enormous, and it’s only going to get bigger. BI tools like DOMO help you make sense of that data, visualize it and act on it. Right now, you might need to be a bit of geek to get the most out of your BI solution, but that’s likely to change as the solutions improve. In the meantime, you can expect plenty of benefits from the current offerings.

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