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What is Cloud Business Intelligence?

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Cloud-hosted BI (Business Intelligence) applications make business data more accessible than ever before. Their ease of use, speed, scalability, and accessibility make them ideal for organizations looking for faster and more efficient ways to analyze and visualize data.

Let’s look at how cloud business intelligence software can boost insights for your team and enhance overall business performance. 

What is cloud BI?

Cloud Business Intelligence (BI) applications are hosted on a virtual network, such as the internet. They are used to provide organizations access to BI-related data such as dashboards, KPIs, and other business analytics. 

Enterprises are increasingly turning to cloud-based tools, like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications (Salesforce), online file collaboration and storage (Dropbox, Box), and help desk software (UserVoice, Zendesk). This trend includes business intelligence software embracing the agility and accessibility of the cloud.

Cloud BI vs. traditional BI

Business intelligence is about delivering the right information to the right people at the right time, and cloud computing provides a lightweight, agile way to access BI applications. 

Here are the differences between traditional business intelligence and cloud BI so that you can choose the best solutions for your company’s needs:

Cost efficiency

Starting with cost, a cloud solution stands out for its affordability. Unlike traditional BI, which often involves hefty initial investments in hardware, software, and infrastructure, cloud BI operates on a subscription-based model.

With this, small businesses can enjoy lower upfront costs. Plus, it also reduces or even removes expenses related to ongoing maintenance, upgrades, and IT staffing.

In the long run, opting for a cloud-based business intelligence tool can lead to significant cost savings. It gives you a chance to allocate resources more effectively elsewhere in your business.

Ease of use

Because they’re older, traditional business intelligence tends to be complex and challenging to navigate. In contrast, cloud BI software emerges with more sophisticated technology. This enables developers to create software with a user-friendly experience with intuitive interfaces and streamlined functionalities.

Business intelligence used to only be doable by writing complex queries and reports, but now, with cloud BI software, even non-technical users can easily create visualizations and reports.

For instance, PowerMetrics lets you create beautiful data visualizations without having to enter a single line of code. Through our business intelligence tool, anyone in your team can easily share data and work toward solid strategies.

Deployment speed

Cloud applications are very simple to deploy since they require no additional hardware or software installations. With these business intelligence apps, you get to bypass the lengthy processes of acquiring and setting up physical servers and configuring software and networks.

You can have your BI system up and running in a fraction of the time it would take to deploy a traditional BI system. Moreover, cloud solutions are agile in that they let you adjust your business intelligence setup in a snap. This way, your organization can respond to market changes or internal demands quickly.

Scalability and elasticity

As your business grows, your data analysis needs will change. Cloud BI solutions can easily scale up or down based on your requirements. As a result, you get the flexibility that traditional business intelligence systems, with their fixed capacity, cannot match.

With this level of scalability, you can make sure that your BI capacity aligns perfectly with your business demands, offering a level of agility that traditional setups struggle to provide.

Accessibility

Cloud BI empowers your team with access to data and insights from anywhere, at any time. Whether users are in the office, working from home, or on the move, they can access business intelligence dashboards and generate reports when needed. This way, they can make timely and informed decisions, which is crucial for making the most of the opportunities that come your way. 

Cloud BI integration capabilities

Another way that cloud BI tools stand out is through their robust integration capabilities. They can connect with various data sources, which is crucial for businesses that have to handle multiple datasets from different platforms.

Databases

Traditional relational business intelligence databases like MySQL, Oracle, or SQL Server are staples in the data management world. They store structured data that’s essential for your day-to-day operations and transactional processes. Databases provide the reliable, time-tested structures that businesses have relied on for decades.

Meanwhile, modern NoSQL databases such as MongoDB or Cassandra offer flexibility in handling large volumes of unstructured or semi-structured data. Businesses need an adaptable business intelligence solution to deal with diverse data types and rapid scalability needs. 

Integrating cloud BI with these databases allows you to tap into massive data storage for complex analyses and reports that drive informed decisions.

Cloud storage

Knowledge has always been power. That’s why cloud storage platforms like Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage, or Microsoft Azure Blob Storage are invaluable for businesses.

They offer scalable, secure environments where businesses can store vast amounts of unstructured data – from customer interactions to transaction logs. With cloud business intelligence tools, you can access and analyze information anytime to transform raw data into actionable strategies.

SaaS applications

Applications like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Slack are not just tools for managing your business operations. They’re also rich data sources. Cloud BI’s ability to integrate with these applications means you get to leverage operational and customer data.

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Spreadsheets and files

Many organizations still rely on good old spreadsheets and standard file formats like CSV and Excel. It’s probably because these business intelligence repertoires are accessible, user-friendly, and incredibly versatile.

Cloud BI solutions, like Klipfolio, can connect to these data sources to let anyone from your team analyze data and contribute to your company’s data-driven culture.

APIs

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are bridges that connect different software platforms, allowing them to communicate and share data seamlessly. Cloud business intelligence tools can pull in real-time data from external sources to give you a broader range of information.

IoT Devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) has brought in a new era of data collection and business intelligence. Now, countless devices are providing continuous streams of real-time data.

Data from these devices are crucial for industries that rely on timely information for predictive maintenance and operational efficiency. For instance, manufacturing businesses benefit from IoT data to optimize production processes and minimize interruptions.

How to find the right cloud BI solution

The right cloud vendor can empower your business with insightful data so that you can make informed decisions quickly if needed. Here are the steps on how you can choose the best cloud intelligence tools for your company:

Identify your business needs

Start by understanding your specific business needs. What kind of data do you need to analyze? Are you looking for real-time analytics, or are historical data reports sufficient?

Consider the scale of your business intelligence data and the level of detail you require in your insights. Knowing what you need will help you pinpoint which cloud BI solutions can cater to your demands and business goals.

Evaluate integration capabilities

Your Cloud BI provider should offer solutions that integrate with your existing data systems and software. Whether it’s databases, cloud storage, SaaS applications, or all of the above, the business intelligence tool you choose should connect effortlessly. This way, you enjoy a smooth flow of data across your platforms.

PowerMetrics has varied data source integrations, including databases such as Amazon Redshift, MySQL, and Snowflake. It can also retrieve information from Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel, as well as APIs from Ahrefs, GA4, QuickBooks, Shopify, and more.

Assess the scalability

Choose a cloud business intelligence provider that can scale with your business. As your company grows, your data analytics needs will change.

Your chosen Cloud BI should be able to accommodate an increasing amount of data and more complex analytics without compromising performance. Look for solutions that offer flexibility and can scale up or down based on your changing requirements.

With Klipfolio, you won’t have to worry about scalability. It’s designed to grow your business by allowing you to add more data sources, dashboards, and users as needed.

Check for customization and user-friendliness

The right Cloud BI tools should not only be powerful but also user-friendly. They should offer customizable dashboards and reports, allowing you to tailor the analytics to your specific business needs. The interface should be intuitive, enabling users across your company to make the most of the BI tools, regardless of their technical expertise.

As mentioned, PowerMetrics’ no-code data visualization feature makes analysis and reporting a breeze. This way, anyone can create visually appealing dashboards to share business intelligence data seamlessly.

Consider security and compliance

Data security and compliance with relevant regulations are non-negotiable. Make sure that the cloud BI provider you choose follows strict security standards to protect your data. They should also comply with industry regulations, ensuring that your company’s data analytics practices are above board.

Our partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) lets us leverage AWS’ secure and reliable cloud computing environment. We also conduct regular code testing and network and application vulnerability assessments to patch vulnerabilities proactively.

Request demonstrations and trials

Before making a final decision, ask for a demonstration or a trial period. This hands-on experience will give you insight into how well the BI solutions align with your business needs, how intuitive the software is, and whether it meets your expectations for data analytics and reports.

You can sign up with Klipfolio for free and experience firsthand how easy it is to generate visually appealing dashboards without having to code manually.

Compare pricing models

Finally, the pricing models of different Cloud BI providers will be compared. Make sure that the cost aligns with your budget and the value you expect to receive. Be mindful of any potential additional costs, such as extra features, scalability, or support.

At $250 per month for 10 users, Klipfolio’s pricing provides value for small to medium-sized businesses looking to invest in a reliable cloud BI solution. 

Cloud BI: Is the sky the limit?

The potential of cloud business intelligence, like cloud computing, is staggering. Companies are migrating to the cloud and are already enjoying the benefits, such as lowered cost, increased deployment speed, and ease of use. 

Cloud applications now boast equivalent computing power to on-premise applications. They offer users feature-depth that was, until now, only available in locally installed software.

Cloud BI has the potential to become a lynchpin in the analytic and BI strategies of enterprises, including self-service BI, by providing end-users with real-time access to business-critical data.