Finding the Right Analytics Tool

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A question I often get about dashboard creation is ‘what to consider in selecting the right analytics tool?’ There are many applications out there. Gartner’s magic quadrant for analytics and business intelligence platforms covers 20 of them. Looking from the users’ perspective, ease of use is top of mind. Ease of use includes 2 areas: easy to prepare the data required, and easy to put together a dashboard.

On the preparation of data, it is inevitable that you need to compile data from multiple sources. This involves setting up the interface to the source application, extracting the relevant data, aligning the data fields, and cleaning the data to get to the final dataset. A good analytics tool should offer the flexibility you need. There is significant time savings when you can do these tasks expediently.

On the creation of dashboards, you want the tool to be intuitive. What I meant is that the functionalities for organizing and presenting the data are intuitive so that you don’t need to spend hours to configure a chart. Most tools offer abundant bells and whistles, in fact, way too many options. Most of the time, you only use a handful of them. The most demanding work in creating a good dashboard is the preparation work in manipulating the data to get to the business insight.

If your ultimate goal is to put the tool in the hands of a broad user base, ease of use is critical.

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