by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 7 June 2012
So, your small business is doing great and you have a wealth of data about customer preferences. By itself, however, data is useless unless it is turned into actionable knowledge.
This is where business intelligence comes in. It converts your data into actionable items and trends. You can use this knowledge to create customer profiles or products.
This week, we will review one such solution that enables you to convert data into knowledge.
In case you were intrigued by it, the solution name - Yurbi - is a shortened version of three words - Your Business Intelligence.
The story of Yurbi's beginnings is one about experience and gumption. "After about 12 plus years of providing BI solutions and services to hundreds of companies, we felt that the business intelligence industry was still dominated by large enterprise vendors who both from a price and functionality perspective were failing businesses," says Ferguson. He adds that many niche BI providers for small businesses were swallowed by larger companies and integrated into "bloated, complex, overpriced solutions."
Ferguson says Yurbi's approach is different. "Yurbi is an enterprise BI platform designed with a focus on highly secure, large enterprise organization," he says. "Instead of complicated and expensive software, we focused on making enterprise software that is very easy and has a pricing model that can accommodate businesses of all sizes."
Finally, unlike other self-service BI tools, Yurbi includes features, security, and data governance needed so that even large organizations can empower their end users to access data without sacrificing control.
The biggest problem in your small business is connecting the dots between data and people. After all, as I mentioned earlier, data is useless unless it is connected to the right people. "Yurbi gives small businesses a way to automate the data collection process which saves time, money, and, more importantly, productivity," says Ferguson. "Yurbi provides real-time intelligence to their business data."
The interesting thing about the solution is that you can customize its features based on your business. As an example, Ferguson says the application can be used for threshold and event monitoring. "Combining Yurbi's query building features with the scheduling and distribution feature, you can create multi-source correlations of data and if a certain threshold is exceeded have Yurbi take action," he says.
The solution can also be used to build custom or legacy web interface. For example, Yurbi can provide secure views of the license manager data for departments within an organization and provide them with specific, customized business functions such as enabling customer service to extend a trial license from a Yurbi report, which calls an API in the license manager system.
Working with Yurbi is a simple three-step process. The first step consists of installing the Yurbi server. The second step consists of connecting that server to your existing databases. The third and final step consists of building Yurbi apps. The apps do all the work in Yurbi. Thus, they retrieve data from your databases, crunch and customize it to fit your criteria, and display it based on formats set by users.
The advantages of business intelligence lie within the simple three-step process outlined earlier. Thus, you can combine multiple data sources into a single report using Yurbi. Similarly, data elements can be configured to have a smart link to integrate the report data with other web pages or Yurbi reports. For example, you can use a ticket number to launch the actual suppprt ticket located in the help desk system or a phone number can be used to trigger a search against a directory application.
Probably, the biggest advantage to using Yurbi is its virtualization capabilities. This means that you do not need to invest in expensive and proprietary data warehousing solutions. Instead, the solution saves costs and enhances performance by enabling you to combine multiple data sources into a single report. According to their website, this feature is very useful while creating trend analysis reports or when few specific reports are needed from multiple sources.
Ferguson zerores in the solution's multi-layered centralized security as an important and unique feature within the solution. "We believe that if we are going to make it easier for business users to make use of data, we have to protect it," he says. "So, we have built in multiple layers of security." The reasoning is simple. "Many self-service BI companies try to avoid the IT group," he says. "They target the business user and give them the ability to bypass IT to get to the data and this sounds eerily familiar to a network virus to the IT department," says Ferguson. According to him, Yurbi's security allows an organization to have the best of both worlds and helps protect company assets.
Unlike the complicated data it crunches, the Yurbi interface is simple. It consists of five tabs that enable you to build, deploy, and use Yurbi. The homepage is where you can create a set of dashboards mashing up not only Yurbi reports but also information from the web including websites, video, and social media feeds that are important to you. The Builder tab enables you to build powerful reports from any defined Yurbi App without requiring any knowledge of programming or query writing skills. All administrative tasks can be done via Yurbi's 100% web interface, including configuring database views, provisioning users, and managing security. The Connect tab provides a data integration and workflow component which allows you to automate business processes, build historical data repositories, and integrate data from multiple sources via a drag and drop workflow process. Most major features in the product are wizard driven which makes it easy to configure, however technical gurus who want to do advanced things have the ability to do so when needed. Yurbi also makes it easy to configure users with just the tabs they need by providing user roles such as Agents, Builders, Admins, and Architects.
I really cannot think of any drawbacks to this solution. The interface is great; as is the solution's utility. Plus, there is the fact that the platform covers a wide spectrum of use cases including dashboards, mashups, self-service analysis, scheduling and notification, ad-hoc queries, data integration and ETL, support for multiple data types, robust security and auditing, and more.
The solution also offers multi-data source access and pre-built analytic apps. This means that you can use Yurbi to tap into log files, spreadsheets, APIs, cloud services, and your Inbox. The solution has pre-built apps for popular enterprise applications such as BMC Remedy, CA Service Desk Manager, HP Service Manager, and Service Now. Thus, you do not need to build custom apps to enable Yurbi use with these apps. Instead, the solution functions as a plug-and-play device for such apps.
Finally, a word about their support system. Ferguson says their BI technology initially attracts customers and the company's customer service keeps them successful and happy. This is because they provide multi-channel support to meet customers across multiple channels including social media, email, phone, and chat. In addition, the company has created a special site that educates, informs, and empowers customers to work with Yurbi. The site contains videos, knowledge articles, communities, and wiki documentation.
The solution follows a freemium model. This is means that it's offerings are a mix of free and paid. The community edition is free and provides small teams the ability to generate an unlimited number of reports aand dashboards from a single data source for free. The Team Edition enables small - to medium-sized businesses to grow additional features of Yurbi, data sources or security features. Yurbi enterprise provides all Yurbi features and enables large enterprises to integrate multiple data sources and users.
The concept and idea of business intelligence may be alien to small businesses. However, this is one solution that small businesses should definitely check out. The solution's interface and utility is great; it might help take your small business to the next level.