Time is the great equalizer. You can have all the intelligence, experience, expertise and data in the world, but without time, meaningful analysis is pretty much impossible.
The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, sums up a conundrum the almost every analyst faces: 20% of the effort leads to 80% of the results, and 80% of the effort leads to 20% of the results. Most analysts will tell you they spend at least 80% of their time preparing data and 20% of their time, if that, actually analyzing it.
But what if you could throw that principle out the window? What if you could spend 80% of your time actually analyzing the data?
The fact is, most of the data preparation activities that precede analysis can now be automated. When you’re shopping for business performance software, here are four features you’ll want to keep an eye out for, if you’re looking to simplify this process.
Easily Accessible Tools
Analyst often require a variety of different tools to get to the answers they’re seeking. One example is reporting packages. Assembling reports from scratch is a huge time-suck. Having a variety of pre-built, automated reports that can pulled directly from your ERP and assembled into a drillable format with the click of a button is the ideal scenario.
Another example here is “What-if” scenarios. Running a variety of scenarios to analyze different potential outcomes and growth avenues can add a lot of depth to certain types of analysis. Where many systems require you to make an IT request and endure a waiting period, our Catalyst software, for example, lets you create a number of new scenarios to test different theories with a few simple clicks and, most importantly, no third-party requests.
See All Your Data in One Place
One of the biggest analysis pain points for many companies is attempting to merge multiple data sources into a clear analysis. What you’ll want here is a resource that can serve as a single source of truth for all your data and a set of tools that let you see it however you need.
The Catalyst software is built on a Data Lake – a massive, Cloud-based repository for all your data (including Big Data sources, POS data, syndicated data, etc.). This makes any and every piece of data accessible from one place. All the data is tied down to the most granular level, so you never get that situation where two departments come to a meeting with two completely different sets of data.
This can also make it easier to understand how structured data from your ERP relates to your unstructured Big Data sources. Catalyst’s proprietary Query Tool that allows you to pull what you need from these large data sets, toss it into a pivot table and see how it relates to your transactional data. Want to understand how your social media analytics relate to sales? You can build it. Want to take a deeper look into point-of-sale data? Query and analyze away. Catalyst puts an unprecedented amount of information at your fingertips, allowing you to get to the “why” faster than ever before.
The Ability to Easily Drill Down
Having data that’s tied back to the most granular levels eliminates the frequent pain point of summary errors and gives you the valuable ability to drill down all the way from the highest top-line level, down to the transaction level (or anywhere in between) to find the root cause.
Want to eliminate hidden costs from your budget? Want to find your most profitable customers or SKUs? With granular, drillable data hierarchies you can quickly see were you’re making money, drill down to the departmental level, and drill down again to the SKU level to determine your most and least profitable SKUs, and make impactful recommendations. Details that used to be hazy are now crystal clear.
Drill-ability allows you to follow your train of thought through the analysis to find the answer to any question about your business in a matter of minutes.
This is an incredibly powerful tool in our Catalyst software. Our proprietary Data Cubes cut the time and effort required to analyze and optimize, by putting risks, rewards and opportunities in plain sight.
Imagine your business is a large windowless building. Many things are happening inside, but you have no way to see, much less understand or control them. Now what if you had a magic window you could hold up to the building to see into any room or any floor from any angle? Or even step back and see inside the whole building at once? This is how Catalyst Data Cubes work, and after you’ve used them, the thought of analysis without them seems like flying blind.
Data Cubes are a real time look into your Data Warehouse. You define the attributes you want to see, and Catalyst organizes the data for you in seconds. As a manual task this might take days or weeks. Now you can have it in an instant. With a Data Cube, you can slice, dice, drill down and pivot enormous amounts of data to get a complete picture of your business, find anomalies and draw fully baked insights. In a set of experienced hands, a Data Cube can reveal tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in savings and opportunities that used to require months of analysis, in an hour.
An idea analysis tool will leverage the power of automation, intelligent vis