Data Blending: The next step in the modern approach to BI

As business intelligence and access to data has evolved, so has our ability to integrate analytics into our business decisions and collaborate on the questions that result. Tableau’s whitepaper, Top Ten Business Intelligence Trends for 2017, highlights the changes that are happening as organizations work to implement a more modern approach to Business Intelligence. It’s an extremely insightful whitepaper; if you haven’t read it, you should.

The 2017 trends support the progression of data blending as it becomes a vital aspect of business intelligence. Tableau’s report states, “In 2017, analytics will become pervasive and the market will expect analytics to enrich every business process. This will often put analytics into the hands of people who’ve never before explored data.” Putting data into the hands of more people will help employees in every area of an organization learn about their customers, analyze the results of business decisions, and discover if their long-held beliefs are true. The subject matter experts within every business will become even smarter about the work they do. Using software such as Tableau, SMEs are now able to ask and answer their own business questions, leaving IT to focus on higher priority and more technical tasks.

But what happens when your sales team builds visualizations from a database of sales by month and then your marketing team wants to add their marketing campaign spend data to the results? Now, you need to pull information from two databases. What about when you want to add product inventory levels to the analysis? Now you’re up to three databases. It’s possible to combine the data in excel, or turn to IT to ensure your data is governed and accurate, but there is a better way. We recommend self-service data preparation with Alteryx. Alteryx can combine data then perform sophisticated transformations and manipulations on the blended data sets to create one enriched data set formatted specifically for immediate consumption, including consumption by a data visualization tool like Tableau. SMEs can easily blend data and use the resulting governed database to collaboratively leverage insights across an organization, resulting in smarter, faster decision making.

Today’s businesses have access to more information than ever before. The ability to combine this information into useful, easily accessible databases can provide your business with a significant competitive edge. After all, it’s not about having the data, it’s about accessing it and knowing how to use it.