In an article published recently on CFO.com written by John Parkinson, an affiliate partner at Waterstone Management Group, the author cites an old design heuristic he learned years ago: “No one knows what they want until you give them what they ask for.” He goes on to say that “no matter what we put in a report, and no matter how well the content meets the needs of a specific audience, other audiences will want something different. The tweaks may be large or small, but they are time consuming”. He points out that every tweak risks introducing errors or causing distortions into the data, or the interpretation thereof. Further, many reports are outdated when they are rendered.
Today, advances in business intelligence and analytics technology have, fortunately, proven to provide a potential cure for this malady, as user-driven, user-friendly features in BI applications have supplanted the need to seek out IT specialists every time a new information need is identified. No longer is the business side of the house subject to stale data from once-a-month refreshed data warehouses or stagnant reports derived from those static sources. Businesses of all sizes, not just the largest enterprises, have access to affordable business intelligence and analytics platforms. Given that many midsize businesses, including law and other professional services firms, are just now beginning to realize the advantages of a business intelligence and analytics initiative, the Gartner Group projects that such platforms will remain one of the fastest growing software markets for some time to come.
Large companies have had for a long time the advantage of business intelligence gleaned from advanced analytics. It has let them be increasingly competitive by being able to make decisions faster and better, based on timely information, and has helped them improve operational efficiency and financial results. Today, however, market developments have made business intelligence and analytics vital to the success and endurance of midsize organizations — such as law firms. The needs for more intelligence tools has been driven by several years of difficult economic conditions and heightened competition, as well as just the ever increasing amount of data, internal and external, that has to be absorbed and managed securely and in real time. Amassing such multi-formatted data into a business intelligence solution can be daunting to many. What many don’t realize, however, is that today, businesses of all sizes can employ sophisticated business intelligence tools, notwithstanding their smaller staffs to deploy, adapt and utilize analytics.
As an example, the business intelligence platform on which ViewPoint has been built is QlikView, a ubiquitous and powerful development tool, which the Gartner Group has identified as among the leaders in the business intelligence and analytics market. Gartner’s “leaders” are “vendors that are strong in the breadth and depth of their BI platform capabilities, and can deliver on enterprise-wide implementations that support a broad BI strategy. Leaders articulate a business proposition that resonates with buyers, supported by the viability and operational capability to deliver on a global basis.” Gartner goes on to say that “the evidence that they are market leaders comes from the fact that most of the market is trying to imitate the simplicity of their architecture and the ease of use that it provides”.