8 essential things to look for in your data analytics platform

July 12, 2022
Digital Analytics Platform

More and more organizations are turning to big data and advanced analytics to unlock the true value of their data. The competition between data analytics vendors is heating up. Let’s take a look at what goes into making the best data analytics platform.

See how Solink’s integrations help with your business operations.

Note that this article was originally published in 2017. It has been fully updated based on the data analytics needs of 2022.

What do companies need in their data analytics platform?

Most organizations have evolved past the initial hype around big data. It’s no longer enough to just collect data—it needs to be interpreted, visualized, and handed back to the customer in a way that leads to actionable insights.

Now, the expectation is that an investment in data and analytics will translate into a measurable ROI, from helping to manage the day-to-day operations to shaping long-term strategy. For example, in the finance industry, data discovery tools are creating opportunities to fight business fraud, prevent internal theft, and help with theft investigations in ways that were not possible before.

Admittedly, as one of the players in this industry, our opinion of what makes or breaks a platform is biased. Nevertheless, this list of eight essential criteria should narrow down your search for the right vendor.

Note that these are the essentials for top performing data analytics tools. All vendors will promise to “do more with your data” but we are not all created equal: the ones that don’t live up to these criteria shouldn’t make the cut for your business.

The essential features for the best data analytics platform

A lot goes into making a great cloud data analytics platform. Here are eight of the minimum features you should expect to get from your data analytics platform

1. Ease of onboarding and use

A minimum learning curve and little to no change in existing hardware or workflows will get you up and running as soon as possible. But that’s just the start. If you want the tool to become a core part of your long-term data strategy, employees not only need to be able to use it intuitively, but must actually love using it because it makes their job easier.

That’s why Solink invests so much into our Customer Success Team. In fact, we often hear from our customers that the Customer Success Team is one of their favorite parts of the platform.

2. Works with disparate data sources—especially video

There are numerous opportunities for data analytics when a platform can truly integrate and correlate various types of data in one place. There are ATMs, POS systems, security cameras, sensors, social media chatter, web analytics, discount programs, loyalty programs, etc.

All of these systems create data in many different forms: structured, unstructured, or a mix of both. The goal is not to analyze them individually, but for them to be combined to create unique contextual insights. As Mark Smith, CEO of Ventana Research, wrote: “Big Data is broken without integration”.

One of the biggest changes to the data analytics marketplace since this article was originally published in 2017 is the rise of video analytics. When Solink first started out, it required educating customers about why video footage is part of the data landscape. Now most companies are in search of ways to get more out of their video.

Pairing video with other data sources improves security, helps with employee training, makes loss prevention more effective, increases speed of service, and more.

3. Facilitates collaboration

Data discovery can benefit an entire organization or an individual department, but decisions are hard to make without some form of discussion or collaboration. While it’s easy to believe that an organization has a hard time sharing knowledge across departments, what is more disheartening is the lack of information sharing within individual departments.

A centralized platform for detecting suspicious activity and managing fraud investigations gives employees and investigators a place where alerts, reports and important information can be shared, enabling them to work together to expedite investigations. With the ever-changing threat landscape, knowledge is power.

One of the ways Solink promotes collaboration is by dropping the silos. We are video management software, case management software, and exception-based reporting software all in one.

By providing value to all departments—helping to increase revenue as well as decrease shrinkage—Solink gives value to every department, and our Customer Success Team makes sure everyone learns how to use the platform.

4. Scalability and evolvability

A good solution works for your needs today but might become obsolete just a few years from now. A great solution will be flexible enough to grow and evolve as your business needs change and your data strategy grows.

This is important as it will help keep you up-to-date with the rapidly changing needs of investigators who deal with business fraud and allow you to better manage the increasing volume and variety of data your organization uses on a daily basis.

Solink takes pride in growing with our customers.

5. Visualizations and dashboarding

The purpose of using a new data discovery platform is not just to see your data in one place, but rather to see your data in ways that help drive and improve decision making. A great data dashboard will allow you to quickly absorb and understand what’s happening in your business.

Whether you have ten minutes to spend looking at your data or ten hours, powerful visualizations will enable you to pinpoint outliers and action items to help you effectively perform your duties. And remember, these visualizations serve as a top layer to larger datasets. By pinpointing where your time is best spent, you’ll decrease the time spent drilling-down into these large datasets while improving the quality of evidence you are able to collect.

The best dashboards are fully customizable, which is why Solink can provide the right insights to customers across more than a dozen industries.

6. Keeps your data free and open

In a recent blog post, Vishal Kumar, CEO of Cognizeus, explained the importance of this: “A good product design should not keep customers sticky by keeping their data hostage. A good tool should bank on its features, usability and data-driven design.”

He believes that data and its knowledge should be easy to import/export to common formats (csv, xml, PDF, etc.). This allows you to leverage third-party tools more seamlessly so you can get the most benefit out of all of your data discovery investments. Keeping your data free will play an instrumental role in fulfilling the criteria mentioned above, i.e., visualization, collaboration, and ease of use.

Open data is one of the ways Solink is able to have hundreds of integration partners.

7. Keeps your data available

Work and life are no longer just balanced, but blended. The rise of remote work, especially during the pandemic, has only accelerated this trend. Having your data stuck in the office while you work from home is no longer acceptable.

One area that is seeing particular growth is remote monitoring. People are looking for ways to remotely monitor their business. If your data is stuck in the office, then you won’t be getting as much out of it. It’s important to be able to access data from anywhere.

8. Keeps your data secure

Open data doesn’t mean data that can be breached or stolen. It is important that your data is secure, which is why Solink is constantly upgrading its security credentials. Solink is SOC 2 compliant.

Solink provides a customizable dashboard that turns your data into actionable insights. It pairs security camera footage with other data sources in your enterprise. The ease of use, fast onboarding, and helpful Customer Success Team make sure you get all the value out of the platform.

Data analytics platform FAQs

How do the top data analytics platforms compare in terms of performance and features?

The performance and features of data analytics platforms vary widely, catering to different business needs.

  • Google Looker stands out for its advanced data modeling, security features, and integration capabilities, but it has a high price and requires familiarity with LookML or SQL.
  • SAS Viya excels in collaboration and cloud-native architecture, offering easy access to data and robust integration options.
  • Zoho Analytics is an affordable, user-friendly option for small to medium businesses, providing scalability and a wide range of integrations.
  • Sisense is noted for its data integration capabilities, offering interactive dashboards and AI-driven insights.

Each platform has its unique strengths and weaknesses, making it crucial for businesses to consider their specific requirements when choosing a data analytics platform.

What are the specific benefits of integrating video data with other enterprise data sources for business analytics?

Integrating video data with other enterprise data sources can enhance business analytics by providing richer insights and a more comprehensive understanding of operational effectiveness, customer behavior, and security management. AI video analytics can help in identifying trends, patterns, and anomalies within physical spaces, such as retail environments, workplaces, and public areas, offering opportunities for optimization and improved decision-making.

Combining video data with transactional data, for instance, can reveal customer behaviors and preferences, improve security and safety measures, and enhance the overall customer experience. This multidimensional analysis can lead to more informed strategic decisions and operational efficiencies.

How does the scalability of a data analytics platform affect its long-term usability for growing businesses?

The scalability of a data analytics platform is crucial for its long-term usability as it determines the platform’s ability to handle increasing volumes of data and growing analytical demands. A scalable platform can accommodate the growth of a business without significant performance degradation or the need for costly and time-consuming upgrades.

It ensures that, as a business expands its operations, collects more data, and requires more complex analytics, the platform can support these needs efficiently. Scalability affects not just the technical capacity to process larger datasets but also the platform’s ability to integrate with new data sources, support more users, and maintain performance and reliability standards. This flexibility and adaptability are essential for businesses aiming for growth and agility in their operations.

See why Solink is the top data analytics platform.