The decisions you make today have a strong bearing on the operations of your business in the future. In order to make sound decisions, your enterprise needs to have the latest operational intelligence information. This is where ‘Business Intelligence’ (BI) comes in and a qualified BI consultant will be able to track your company’s status and operational data very quickly and efficiently.
The global market for BI platforms is witnessing a constant rise that has made it rank among the fastest growing enterprise software industries.
As per Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics platform from earlier this year, this growth is expected to take place at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 8.7% through to 2018.
Source: Gartner (February 2015)
Martin Butler, an industry expert, commented on the importance of BI by saying that “an organisation without Business Intelligence bears a striking resemblance to a ship without a rudder” in his latest report.
So in this article, we will look at the reasons your organisation needs a Business Intelligence consultant, along with some tips to find the right BI consultants and hire them at the right time.
Tasks Performed by BI Consultants
An ideal BI consultant for your business will have sound knowledge of the underlying data system, along with programs and tools that create the data. The primary job involves carrying out constant monitoring of the business data and generates timely reports that can be shared with your company’s management on a frequent basis.
One of the most important yet ignored tasks performed by any BI consultant is finding and listing down requirements. The consultant can devise relevant strategies and focus on achieving better results for your business if they have a sound understanding of your business needs.
A smart BI consultant will focus on the business and then determine the technology and tools that need to be used in order to convert a vast pool of data into valuable information.
Having dealt with a number of enterprises, we realise the importance of having a level-headed BI consultant that can offer alternate solutions to emerging challenges with well-defined reports.
This goes a long way in helping the management make informed decisions that turn out to be successful in the long run. Therefore, you can term your BI consultant as the ideal partner for the decision makers of your business.
Rising Need to Hire BI Consultants
As needs are becoming more dynamic, it is getting increasing difficult to make the right, long-term decisions without a strong source of information and intelligence.
You need professionals that can provide updated operational data and information in an efficient manner upon demand. Your management cannot be expected to continuously monitor the data reports and use them to make informed decisions. It requires a specialist to provide the right kind of data and information and this is why you need a qualified BI consultant.
There is no perfect time to hire a BI consultant. You need to get hold of one as early as possible in order to increase your chances of making better decisions that yield quality results for your company. In addition, the sooner you hire a BI consultant, the easier it will be for them to develop an understanding of your requirements.
Skills to Look Out for While Hiring a BI Consultant
- Must be an expert on your company’s underlying data system (IBM DB2 or Microsoft SQL Server or similar)
- Should have sound knowledge of SQL, database functions and data modelling
- Must be able to query recursively at a fast pace (to generate quick reports on demand) and execute analytic functions for complex inter-row calculations
- Must have good knowledge about the source program (Sage ERP or Microsoft Dynamics GP or similar) used to generate data reports
- Must possess excellent communication skills to understand the business requirements clearly, highlight the gaps and showcase valuable information on time
If you are going for a BI project for the first time, you definitely need professional help from agencies that have prior exposure to BI technologies and tools.
Also, you can opt for recruitment agencies that offer experienced BI professionals on contract or for permanent hires. However, you can also opt for BI consultancy firms that provide quality support for all your data-centric BI needs.
There is no room to experiment when it comes to BI for your organisation as a single bad decision can have very far-reaching consequences. Hiring a well-qualified BI consultant or a team of such consultants is a small investment that will pay rich dividends for your business in the long term.
The time and money you spend on hiring the right BI team will eventually help your business grow and increase profitability through well-informed decisions.
So do you plan to hire in-house BI consultants, or outsource? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!
Any guesses as to what has been named as the ‘sexiest job of the twenty-first century’? According to the Harvard Business Review, it is the job of a data scientist. Surprised? With the amount of data we are generating coupled with the rapid increase in technology, it is no surprise that we need an expert to make sense of all this data and do much more. A data scientist is soon going to become a basic need for most companies. So what exactly does a data scientist do?
Who is a Data Scientist?
The basic job of a data scientist is to analyse data. He does this himself, but he also builds automated systems that do so. Statistics and machines play a big part in the process. A data scientist needs to needs to be good with numbers, but also needs to have a scientific bent of mind.
The job of a data scientist is required today than ever before. Think of the Internet – think how much data is generated there. The number of YouTube videos uploaded each minute, the number of Facebook posts liked every minute, the number of products bought online every minute; and this does not even cover a tenth of the activity that is conducted on the Internet. This kind of data can give invaluable insight and information to a company, depending on what they are looking for. But how do you look for what you want in such a complicated maze and so much sheer volume? This is what a data scientist does.
Data scientists can also make predictions. These predictions are based on science and statistics, and recent trends. For example, Jonathan Goldman revolutionised the click rate on LinkedIn by introducing the ‘People you may know’ feature. At the time, LinkedIn had just begun recently and the problem was that people were not connecting with the people already on the site, the growth was restricted to people inviting their friends and family. Goldman was intrigued by the different connections on the site and the threads between people. Undoubtedly there were people who knew others in their field of work, but how could you connect them? Based on his instincts and some sound statistical study, he refined and implemented the feature. He further added other ways of guessing and predicting connections, and there was a sudden boom in the interactions between visitors and the click throughs.
Such is the effect proper data analysis can have.
Big data and its increasing importance
Big data simply implies data that is ‘big’ – i.e., too huge to process through traditional methods. The modern data scientist makes sense of big data and with the help of recent trends can help a company develop features that can make it extremely useful and customized to a user or a consumer. He can also give insights about almost any stage of the company’s growth, or the impact of a major change or shift in policy or outlook.
Take any application today – almost all of them involve data. Take the example of any shopping portal. It benefits from knowing what you have been looking for, the kind of products you like and which categories you shop most in. Not only does data analysis make it easier for a company to do what encompasses their regular job in a better manner, but it also allows you the possibility to build new and exciting things which were not possible before. Google is a master at this game. Ever typed a wrong spelling into a Google search and noticed Google correct it automatically? It is not just spelling errors that it corrects, Google has a huge database of contexts and phrases which make the search engine top notch and so effective to use.
Look at Amazon. When you look at a product on the website, they show you products that you may like. This feature correlates the product that you are looking at with the browsing or purchase habits of other consumers who looked at other products after this one, and offers you similar recommendations.
Big data is taking over the Internet, and in a big way.
Why do you need a data scientist?
There will be a point in the future when every business will require a data scientist. As every business and every company is getting involved with the Internet in some way or the other, the demand for data scientists will rise exponentially. As of now, however, you may or may not need a data scientist. The question you have to ask yourself is, am I making a product right now that requires a scientist specifically focusing on the data? You need to figure out whether you use conventional data or big data. A key point to remember is that any business that is associated with the consumer directly will benefit greatly from a data scientist.
According to Statista, an online statistics portal, Apple claims that the number of iOS apps downloaded from the Apple store has crossed the 100 billion mark in June 2015 (from July 2008).
Now that’s a staggering figure, isn’t it?
The regular mobile apps that you find on any app store are the ones developed to directly target consumers around the world. They are based on some simple tasks, like learning English and simple mathematical formulas, to complex tasks, like managing expenses and maintaining calendar appointments.
But, enterprise mobile apps are those that are dedicated specifically for teams within an organization and enterprise customers instead of for just direct consumers
These business apps are made for companies of different sizes and are more data-centric . Developing these apps involve fulfilling stringent requirements with regard to company security, administration and maintenance.
According to Apple, around 98% of the Fortune 500 companies have an iOS application which clearly shows that enterprises are keen on investing wisely in business apps from a long-term point of view.
Let’s check out the best practices for developing iOS apps for enterprises.
Hire Qualified iOS App Developers
Would you trust an individual app developer, who has made some regular apps, to develop an enterprise app for your company just to save costs?
Of course not! Right?
When the stakes are high, you need well-trained and qualified developers who have significant knowledge of iOS app development for businesses.
Being an experienced app development team ourselves, we realise the importance of getting the enterprise app development process streamlined from the start. And a key component to this is to hire (on contract or on a permanent basis) the right iOS app developers from proven mobile app development agencies.
Determine an Appropriate App Development Method
There are different ways in which your company could get its enterprise app built, based on your peculiar requirements.
This depends on whether you need an HTML5 app, a native app or an app that lies somewhere in between.
The following are some unique methods or techniques for iOS enterprise app development:
Bespoke App Development
Major companies opt for enterprise apps that are custom built.
The perfect way of achieving this is by using a device-side iOS Software Development Kit (SDK). You then need to appropriately integrate the back-end systems or applications with the mobile app, which often raises some security concerns due to the involvement of user authorisation and connectivity.
To deal with mobile apps and its integration with back-end apps, some changes to the back-end systems or hand-coding and logic building are required.
Cross-Platform App Development
You can build native apps (which meet most of the capabilities of a mobile) or HTML5 apps or hybrid apps (a combination of native and HTML5 apps), using cross-platform tools.
These tools include Configure.IT, PhoneGap, Telerik, Apache Cordova and more.
Even if you are developing an enterprise app for the first time, you can try a comprehensive platform like Configure.IT, because it offers automatic coding capability, app preview facility, direct API connect and similar features.
Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) solves the concerns for back-end integration in an enterprise along with proper user authentication and security.
These services can be used by you in addition to the cross-platform tools to design and develop integrated business mobile apps that will be compatible with any device.
With this method, you can easily integrate with cloud apps, but integrating with on-premise resources is a tad difficult.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is one of the latest model-driven methods used for integrated enterprise app development.
It consists of complete application lifecycle management abilities to model the business logic with code generated in the background and it makes it easy to integrate with on-premise and cloud apps.
Get a Work Model for iOS App Development
Although there are several models available which you can opt for but the most popular and effective approach to the enterprise app development process is the agile methodology.
It involves a systematic process from gathering the requirements through making a strategy through creating the app design to actually develop and deploying the app.
Deploy and Test the App
Developing an iOS app for your enterprise is initially done on an iOS simulator. As part of the deployment process, you need to get the app on your physical Apple mobile phone. You can then do the beta testing for your enterprise app before it is officially made available to users.
It is extremely important for your company to plan for the future and ensure appropriate maintenance of the deployed enterprise app.
Every app has to go through numerous innovations after real-time usage and it helps to have professional expertise at hand.
So, your company needs to have a budget for maintaining the iOS enterprise app which will go a long way in improving its efficiency and overall productivity for your organisation.
It is clear that your company needs to plan for enterprise apps and start the development process as soon as possible. The future is friendly mobile apps and to stay ahead of your competition, your firm needs to have highly efficient, secure and innovative iOS apps.
So, what are you waiting for?
Smartphones have changed our world. A decade or two ago, mobiles were just portable landlines – used primarily for calls and the occasional text. Today, it is an unforgettable part of our lives, something that helps us do everything from waking up in the morning to remembering appointments to playing games to burning calories to listening to music to keeping a track of pregnancy cycles. All of this is made possible by mobile applications.
What does your organization do to leverage ahead? Statistics suggest that 32% of UK customers make a purchase on their phone. Add to that the fact that you can find an application for almost any task you might want to do – from learning a foreign language to waking up a stranger across the world with a song. Mobile users are expected to reach more than 43 million in the UK by 2017 and people are increasingly using their phones to access everything from search engines to shopping websites. Mobile solutions are needed for everything.
Developing App For Your Business
You need have an app for your business. Whether it be to improve organizational productivity or market your own app, you need a good app strategy. You have two options – you either hire a freelancer or a company.
The best decision would be outsourcing to a company. Why? A freelancer may be great in a specific area but won’t have as much experience as a gamut of experts that a company has. A good company will also have acquired its reputation and grown by working for different kinds of businesses.
The Steps Involved
So once you have decided to outsource your app building to a company, which one do you choose? It is extremely important to choose the right company. The basic rule for investing in something is that your investment should get a return, and not everyone can do that. Do your basic research on the company.
- Ask them for a portfolio. More importantly, ask for the links of published apps.
- If a company has developed hundreds of apps but none of them have been published in the app store/playstore, what use is that?
- You can also ask for a customer portfolio to get an idea of the past and present projects and clients.
- Finding similar projects and clients who were given successful results by the company can provide you some confidence.
You should also discuss about their process development update – how well do they communicate while in the process of building an app? It is important for them to listen to you carefully so that the end product you get is in line with your expectations. Keeping you in the loop achieves this. And of course, in the midst of all this, do not forget to ask about the charges that will be levied. A good company will be forthright about what it will cost, and will not levy hidden charges or confuse you in fine print.
Finalizing the Company
So now that you know what to ask the company that you outsource to, how do you finalize the company itself? There are a number of important tips that can help you choose the right company.
First of all, the company you choose should have a vast and diverse experience. This is important because this shows that they have already encountered developmental problems that may occur in the process of developing your app; and overcome them. Vast experience also means they have learned from beginners’ mistakes, and will build a good product. Finally, a vast experience also shows that they have got good feedback and word of mouth for clients to keep coming to them. If so many clients have liked them, they must be doing something right.
Now once you have looked over the entire experience, narrow down to experience with the kind of app you are looking to get designed. Now don’t be too narrow here. Let’s say you are from a fashion house and looking to get an app designed that is based on dressing models in your new collection and having them sashay down the runway. You should not look for experience with ‘fashion apps’ in the company’s portfolio, rather you should look at their quality of gameplay. If they have done that well in the past, chances are they will do it well for you too. Of course, this also depends on what kind of app you are getting – if it is a general one or a highly specific one.
Cost is an important consideration, yes, but we wary of prices that are low. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes companies with lower prices have inexperienced or junior engineers working for them. The price should be just right, neither exorbitant nor cheap.
You must make sure that the company that you pick has specific experience in mobile app development and specialises in everything mobile. Just any software developer can’t do your job. Developing for mobiles and developing for, say, the PC, are different ball game altogether.
The company you choose should not only offer development but also innovation. Once you convey your idea and expectations from the app, the company should be able to build on that framework and communicate with you. Simply developing on what you said without putting in their own experience and ideas into it shows an uninspired approach.
There was a time when people used to run applications and software downloaded to their own devices or servers. This meant increased threats of data loss and less flexible systems – you actually needed data to be in the system to be able to complete the work.
With cloud hosting, people can now access all the application through the internet, no matter what the location is. The solution has become popular over the years, especially among small and medium enterprises, that run on a modest budget.
Companies can look at increased collaboration with cloud, enabling employees to share and work on data seamlessly, and individuals to pick up their work from any machine that has access to the cloud. Cloud services have also opened a world for businesses and users to interact. You can save your word files in cloud or just use a cloud invoicing system. There are different cloud host providers offering you space to store data online and collaborate easily but the development of SaaS has been the most significant.
According to the latest statistics issued by Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), 84 percent of all the companies in the United Kingdom have adopted at least one cloud service. The research also shows that about 78 percent companies in the country adopt two or more cloud services. In fact, this technology has evolved in phases, starting from utility and grid computing, application service provision (ASP) and the latest Software as a Service (SaaS).
Why Cloud Hosting?
There are different reasons that have owed to the remarkable success of cloud hosting:
- Flexibility: Need more bandwidth or storage space instantly? The cloud has you covered. The ability to meet ever-changing business demands is what cloud services are known for.
- Disaster recovery: You no longer need a sophisticated disaster recovery plan as cloud computing would take care of it. As a matter of fact, using a cloud service reduced the time to resolve issues by as much as 50 percent.
- Software updates: According to statistics released in 2010, UK-based companies spent over 400 hours each month to manage website security. On the other hand, cloud computing suppliers such as Microsoft and Amazon would take care of this.
- Work from anywhere: According to a recent survey, 42 percent of employees in the UK would give up some of their salary if they were given the option to telecommute. This would have a positive effect on the person’s work – life balance.
- Eco-friendly: Businesses that require cloud services only use the space they need. This reduces carbon footprint by a considerable margin as switching onto a cloud is known to decrease the energy consumption by as much as 30 percent.
Comparing Arch Rivals – Amazon Web Services versus Microsoft Azure
Both Microsoft and Amazon are head over heels in grabbing the market share with their cloud-based services. While Amazon did have an amazing head start, Microsoft Azure is soon catching up. Both these companies have the resources to lure individual as well as enterprise customers.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Computing
Amazon employs an Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which allows users to configure virtual machines in a pre-configured fashion or customize it according to their needs. Users get to choose the size, power, memory capacity and the number of VM. In addition, they can also choose the location and availability zone. Load balancing and auto scaling, are a couple of additional features supported by EC2.
Microsoft Azure was made available to consumers in May 2013. Users of this service can choose a virtual hard disk to create a virtual machine. This can either be pre-defined or user-defined. You would have to specify the number of cores and memory capacity.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Storage and Databases
Amazon Web Services use temporary storage, which is allocated once an instance begins and gets destroyer once it has been terminated. Storage is provided that can either be attached to an instance or kept separate. Amazon also has full support for relational and NoSQL databases as well as Big Data.
Similar to AWS, Azure too user temporary storage as well as Page Blobs (Microsoft’s block storage) for virtual machine – based volumes. Azure too provides complete support for relational and NoSQL databases and Big Data, made available through HDInsight and Microsoft Azure Table.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Networking
Amazon’s virtual private clouds and Azure’s Virtual Network give users the flexibility of grouping virtual machines into isolated networks on the cloud. Therefore, users would be able to precisely define a network topology, create route tables, subnets and private IP address ranges.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Pricing
While customers using Amazon Web Services are charged, by rounding up the number of hours used, Microsoft charges customer based on the number of minutes used on demand.
You need to choose a service that suits to your needs. Talk to an expert or evaluate the pros and cons of each. Your choice of cloud hosting can directly affect the organizational productivity and performance so it’s a great idea to do your research on which cloud hosting provider can work to your advantage.