Visualization, mobility high on business intelligence wish lists

Simple-to-use dashboards that allow for graphical representation of data and that can accommodate mobile team-members will be key to successful deployments.

Small and midsize businesses believe that business intelligence software could be a lot easier to use, especially when it comes to simple-to-use reporting dashboards and better data visualization.

That's according to a new study conducted by vendor LogiXML, which offers a web-based business intelligence application. The survey reflects the responses of 605 individuals from SMBs across multiple industries.

On the wish list for SMB business intelligence applications:

  • Dashboards and reporting (43 percent)
  • Predictive analytics (30 percent)
  • Key performance indicators (26 percent)

Right now, SMBs are hindered by their inability to access data from multiple sources, set up models to analyze information on an ongoing basis, and present reports in a way that is meaningful to their extended teams, according to the survey results.

In short, smaller companies need an easier way to create dashboards and reports on the fly rather than waiting for an IT organization to program them. Many existing tools bind managers to specific reports, which is counterintuitive and can cause a business to react more slowly than market factors necessitate.

Another emerging trend: Mobility.

With an increasing number of employees -- particularly sales teams -- living their work lives outside of a corporate headquarters or branch location, the ability of a business intelligence application that can support mobile access securely and seamlessly becomes paramount. Consider that 50 percent of the smallest companies surveyed by LogiXML (those with fewer than 50 employees) believe that they will need to support mobile access to business intelligence.

All this adds up to a need for business intelligence that encourage flexibility and that allow employees to reflect on results without having a computer programming degree.

Definitely primary factors to consider if your own organization is evaluating a business intelligence tool. And since an entirely separate survey from technology organization CompTIA over the summer found that business intelligence is the most important emerging technology for SMBs -- with close to one-third actively evaluating a deployment -- it is a pretty safe bet that your company needs to think about this.