Why Choose Just One Tool: How To Bring The Titans Of BI Together With Unified Analytics

Why Choose Just One Tool: How To Bring The Titans Of BI Together With Unified Analytics

Are we experiencing the Modern Business Intelligence Renaissance?

The last decade has seen the Business Intelligence (BI) space transform from a niche specialty into a cornerstone of modern business operations. With the data revolution, companies recognized the need for detailed insights to steer strategies. This need gave rise to a myriad of BI tools, each promising to unlock the secrets hidden within vast data lakes.

Whether you’re a data scientist, marketing professional, or bored (board) level tinkerer, there seems to be a BI tool to meet your needs.

The Titans of BI: More Than Just Tools

To truly appreciate the need for a unified approach, we probably need to understand why a company would choose to have more than one BI tool. Surely they all do the same thing, right? Spoiler: They don’t and don’t call me Shirley.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most popular BI tools and their uses:

Tableau: Beyond its striking visualizations, Tableau champions a user-friendly experience. With drag-and-drop functionality, even those less acquainted with analytics can uncover patterns, offering a democratized approach to data-driven insights.

Power BI: While integration with the Microsoft suite is a key strength, Power BI also brings advanced data modeling capabilities. The tool’s DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) language allows for sophisticated calculations, making it a powerful tool for those with a deeper understanding of analytics.

Looker: Not just a visualization tool, Looker excels in its data modeling layer. It offers a unique perspective by turning database queries into reusable code chunks, enhancing efficiency and consistency across the board. It also benefits by having the backing of a tech giant like Google.

Qlik: Beyond its associative data modeling, Qlik’s in-memory data processing delivers rapid-fire analytics results, catering to businesses needing real-time insights.

The Fragmentation Problem: A Blessing and a Curse

While choice is beneficial, too much of it can lead to that old classic, operational inefficiencies. If your organisation features multiple departments using different tools then I’m afraid to say that you may have come down with one of the following affiliations:

Siliosis (Operational Silos): Where one department’s insights remain inaccessible or incoherent to another due to the BI tool they’re using.

Challenge-itis (Training Challenges): Onboarding new employees becomes challenging when they must familiarize themselves with multiple BI tools.

The Wallet Flu (Financial Overheads): Managing licences and updates for multiple tools can become a logistical and financial burden.

Unified Analytics: The Meta-Layer Revolution

Unified analytics platforms, like Digital Hive, are not about replacing these BI tools but embracing them. Digital Hive serves as an overlay, ensuring the diverse BI tools communicate effectively. Think of it as a mediator that features some great real world applications and advantages, like:

Streamlined Reporting: Imagine a global enterprise where the European arm uses Looker due to legacy reasons, while the North American arm swears by Tableau. Unified analytics allow for a consolidated dashboard that executives can use to gauge global performance metrics without delving into the specifics of each tool.

Leveraging Strengths: A unified platform recognizes that every BI tool has its strengths. For instance, data from Qlik can be combined with visualizations from Tableau to create a report that leverages the strengths of both tools.

Cross-Tool Collaboration: Consider a situation where an organization is working on a multi-departmental project involving both finance and marketing insights. Even if these departments use different BI tools, a unified analytics platform ensures they can collaborate without friction.

Beyond Mere Integration: The Future Vision of Unified Analytics

Unified analytics platforms are not just about integrating various tools. They envision a future where BI is seamless, efficient, and holistic, across an organisation.By bridging the gaps, these platforms are not only resolving the current challenges but are also future-proofing businesses against the evolving BI landscape.

We won’t sugar coat it. Navigating the complex world of Business Intelligence tools is no small feat. However, as we stand at the cusp of a new era in BI, it’s evident that the future is not about individual tools but how effectively they can be integrated. Unified analytics platforms are leading this change, ensuring that businesses remain agile, informed, and ready for the challenges of tomorrow.

Everything You Need To Know About Analytics Catalogs, Data Catalogs, And Metrics Stores In One Easy Cheat-Sheet

Everything You Need To Know About Analytics Catalogs, Data Catalogs, And Metrics Stores In One Easy Cheat-Sheet

Three technologies that are being talked about but mistakenly intertwined and overlapped.

1. Data Catalog:

What it is:
A data catalog is a centralized repository that contains metadata about data assets within an organization. It serves as a comprehensive inventory of available data sources, datasets, databases, tables, files, and other data-related resources. The catalog provides information such as data descriptions, data lineage, data quality, usage statistics, business terms and access permissions. The primary purpose of a data catalog is to enable data discovery, facilitate data governance, and improve data collaboration across teams. Content producers (e.g.: Data Analysts and Data scientists) are the primary consumers for this service.

What it is not:
A repository for all things upstream like Power BI files, Tableau Workbooks, Notebooks or report and dashboard definitions. All the data used in semantic layers, business definitions and other analytical artifacts should have lineage traceable via a Data Catalog. An exception to this is where data products are produced from other source data, in these cases that definition is required to trace lineage back fully.

2. Metrics Store:

What it is:
A metrics store is a specialized storage system designed to be an additional, intermediate area between the data source (database, warehouse, file) and other upstream systems, esp. BI/analytics solutions. These repositories contain definitions of the underlying data and form a semantic or business layer to promote content users to use common ways of using, accessing, and manipulating (e.g.: calculations and normalizations). Content producers are the primary consumers for this service.

What it is not:
A repository for data or analytics assets. Its job is to make upstream reports, dashboards, and visualization creation easier with reusable business and calculation definitions.

3. Analytics Catalog:

What it is:
An analytics catalog contains the metadata associated with analytical assets and artifacts. It provides a centralized repository for storing and organizing, analytical reports, dashboards, visualizations, and other analytics-related objects from various locations and vendors. The analytics catalog helps data analysts, data scientists, business users and all consumers discover and access analytical assets, understand their context and business logic, and promote collaboration and reuse of analytical work within the organization. It also helps Analytics and BI teams get a better understanding of usage of usability to help focus their efforts.

What it is not:
It is not another Business Intelligence tool. It does not require access to data or replication of data. It is not a technology used to define metrics outside of other analytics systems in use.

In summary:

 Data Catalog: Contains metadata about data assets (datasets, databases, files) to facilitate data discovery and data governance.

 Metrics Store: Contains business ready definitions of data to facilitate data consumption.

 Analytics Catalog: Focuses on metadata related to analytical assets, reports, and dashboards, to support analytics collaboration and reuse.

While there may be some overlap in functionalities (like they all have search and they all live in the world of Analytics), these three components serve different purposes and cater to different aspects of data management and analytics within an organization.

Time to Say Goodbye to The Era of BI Standardisation!

Time to Say Goodbye to The Era of BI Standardisation!

Let’s face it. Every provider of Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics would love nothing more than to see organisations consolidate and unify under their platform or brand. It’s the reality of standardisation.

The expectation is a seamless transition, but is that the reality? 

Do all tools deliver the same results? 

On the surface, it might seem so – in the end they all offer data visualisations. But delve deeper, and you’ll find vast disparities, from distinct authoring methods to chart originality. A tool that offers reporting cannot simply be replaced by one that doesn’t. For instance, substituting Cognos’s reporting functionalities with a desktop tool, particularly with data governance or external consumer requirements, isn’t just ill advised, it’s reckless.

It’s not just analytics vendors that are driving this narrative. Key decision-makers frequently opt to ‘switch’ tools when they procure a new one. The allure of reducing licences and associated costs is just too much for some, but like the sirens in the water, they often pull our attention away from the real danger. The cost of switching. Let’s break it down: 


It’s great transitioning to a new tool with all its new bells and whistles, but you need to actually learn how to use the thing. Not only that, but you need to transfer any content from the existing system into the new one, placing a burden on the current content owners in terms of time and effort. 

This becomes a people issue. Inform someone that you’re altering the tools and tasks they’re accountable for, and they’ll be inclined to shift to the new tool, or if that isn’t viable, they might choose to leave. If they leave, you risk delay and the loss of institutional knowledge.

Human Resources

The argument that existing staff will migrate the required content oversimplifies the business case. What about the new content and the aspirations of being data-driven that everyone is striving for? To demonstrate the value derived from this new expense promptly, you’ll need additional hands-on deck for these projects. More people equals more money. Money that you probably didn’t account for in the first place. 


Operating multiple systems simultaneously will inflate hosting costs. We mustn’t forget the databases and source systems. Recall the challenges of conducting load and stress testing against production sources.


Losing users comes at a high price. This group is likely to voice the most objections. They may have advocated for improvements in the analytics experience, but standardisation implies a total change. During this period, this group is likely to fragment further. Rogue tools, new data export requests, or simply surrendering in the quest for the information they need can result in severe damage. This strays you further from the transparent and aligned data-driven culture you’re aiming for.

Keep in mind – Users who are vocal about their experience are the ones using it. Don’t mistake engagement and passion for bitching and moaning. You want engagement because it leads to enhancements and betterment across the board. Let’s not even talk about Outlook! 

Double Licences

While you can try to minimise this expense, as the deployment of the new tools gets closer, users will need access to both. Validation and confidence building, as well as contingency planning if things go awry, are crucial for success (which is rare). It’s our firm belief that the BI and Analytics market figures floating around are inflated, as most users have multiple tools doing the same job.


Choosing not to invest in people to do the work equates to prolonged timelines. All vendors advocate the ‘time to value’ concept, but this is only achievable with simplistic projects and some “Services” to assist or train along the way.

So, what do we truly gain when we switch from one tool to another?

  • Wasted time
  • Recreating content that is already accepted and available. (There are no migration tools available between vendors only services groups.)
  • Increased expenditures
  • Training, duplication of resources (human and financial)
  • Missed opportunities.
  • Forfeiting chances to create new content for new projects and analytics to effect better changes.

In this context, a SWITCH implies a:

  • Sudden
  • Wild
  • Increase in
  • Total
  • Cost of
  • Holistic ownership.

If you’re contemplating a switch, here’s some advice:

  • Rearticulate the desired outcomes. 
  • Reimagine the problem without the solution. 
  • Reassess how the solution will meet the outcomes and tackle the problems, equipped with the insights above to determine if the cost is justified. 

In our opinion, the only solid argument for switching is if the current solution is no longer vendor-supported.

Your Mind is Set on Consolidation 

If you’re still keen on consolidation, bear in mind the inevitable truth. There’s no one-size-fits-all “ring”. While BI platforms might be replaceable at a high cost, they’re no longer the only sources for analytics. Every solution provider has a strategy to introduce or enhance the analytics provided on their platform. Often, these aren’t accessible to other tools or necessitate manual Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) of data. 

To put it another way, what does consolidation or standardisation truly mean for your business? Could a Unification strategy be a more fitting approach? Let’s consider some typical outcomes:

Single place for analyticsFAIL
External applications exist
Reduced costsFAIL
Spend happens elsewhere as teams retool (shadow Ops).
Reduction of ‘legacy’ tooling content happens over time by users naturally as does the expense.
Happy usersFAIL
Disruption, forced into a single tool, change is hard.
Best tool for a job survives, minor changes, natural transitions.
Data LiteracyFAILOne tool can’t do it all, multiple places still exist.PASS
Users are unified to access analytics; Uses are exposed to more analytics and use cases.

This should serve as an awakening for many data and analytics team owners (including executives). Consolidation has been a catastrophe, benefiting only service teams and vendors for the past 15+ years. 

Some vendors were wise enough to see the value of a side-by-side approach, but the collective end users were overlooked, leading to negative outcomes. 

There is a Harmony to All This

To put it simply, we think that Unification and harmony is the strategy with the most tangible benefits at the user level. It’s a strategy that’s already being implemented with considerable expenditure at the data layer with virtualisation, data catalogues and metrics stores (but is likely to fail due to the lack of end-user consideration). 

If you’re operating in an environment with multiple Data and Analytics tools (as everyone is), you owe it to yourself, your organisation, and your staff to explore unification and harmonisation.

For more information please contact Digital Hive, today. 

Standardisation is Bullsh*t!

Standardisation is Bullsh*t!

*Sorry readers, we used a bad word. There may be more throughout this article, but if it encourages you to critically examine the concept of standardisation and its negative impact, then it’s worth it. Sorry, not sorry.*


Yeah, you heard us right the first time. Standardisation in analytics tools, often hailed as the cornerstone of making technological progress, is bullsh*t. Don’t believe us? Let’s put it another way. Clinging to a single standardised analytics and bi tool can stifle creativity, hinder flexibility, and ultimately slow down progress within your business. 

But that’s just one side of the argument. In this article, we’ll dive into the controversial statement, shedding light on both the pros and cons of BI standardisation, and challenging the widely held belief that standardisation is always beneficial.

The double-edged sword of standardisation

Standardisation is the process of creating and implementing technical standards based on the consensus of different parties that include firms, users, interest groups, standards organisations, and governments. It’s supposed to help maximise compatibility, interoperability, safety, repeatability, and quality.  

It’s often associated with a number of benefits, including:

  • Increased efficiency: By creating a common framework for businesses to operate within they’re able to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
  • Improved quality: By ensuring that services meet certain standards they can improve the quality of those products and services.
  • Increased safety: As above but replace quality standards for safety. 
  • Increased compatibility: Standardisation can help to increase compatibility between products and services, making it easier for businesses to work together.
  • Reduced spend: Removing expensive and overlapping tooling licences and removing the need for multiple ABI teams (one per tool) and overlapping infrastructure (per tool).  Don’t forget better rates that come with increasing buying power with the chosen Analytics and BI vendor!

Sounds incredible, right? Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be more efficient and cost effective while improving quality and safety for products and services. But as the subtitle suggests, this is a double-edged sword, and sadly this blade is pretty sharp. 

You see, standardisation can also backfire for companies who embrace it. For example, it can:

  • Lead to vendor lock-in: When a company standardises a particular Analytics and BI platform, it becomes more dependent on that vendor. Making it more difficult and expensive to switch to a different platform in the future. 
  • Reduce flexibility: Standardisation can reduce the flexibility of an analytics team. This is because a single vendor will do some things well and others not so well. The things it doesn’t do well lead to rigid solutions around the limitations.
  • Stifle innovation: Standardisation can stifle innovation by discouraging developers from developing new and unique analytics applications. This is because developers may be reluctant to invest time and effort in developing applications that are not compatible with standardised platforms.
  • Opportunity cost: Migrating existing content from other Analytics and BI tools is time consuming and costly. Typically, everything gets moved (without knowing the value), which means new projects aren’t being done and you’re missing opportunities wasting time on stuff that isn’t needed.
  • Not so great now, is it? 

Standardisation Simplifies Interoperability

Another reason that people gravitate toward analytics standardisation is due to the way it simplifies interoperability or removes the need for interoperation entirely. The allure of everything working together seamlessly, fostering compatibility, and reducing friction in user experience is too enticing to miss out on. I mean, imagine a world where every manufacturer had a different design for electric sockets or USB ports – chaos would ensue – we’re looking at you Apple! 

But does that mean you have to succumb to the other negatives we discussed? There may be a better way. 

At Digital Hive, we like companies to have freedom within their analytics tech stack, utilising tools and services that tick every box based on need, not just a few because the others won’t play nicely together. 

By layering Digital Hive over your analytics tech stack, you get the benefits of standardisation without the negatives that accompany it. Instead, you get to keep the ABI tools and services that work for your organisation and your individual business unit needs, while adding in a branded front end that is as simple or in depth as you need it to be.  

Imagine a place where all your analytics assets live, easily accessible without having to reinvent the wheel on how it’s accessed. Now imagine having to standardise that content to fit a new product just because it plays nice with the flavour of the week tech that no one wants, but it’s part of the package you just bought. Got to get your money’s worth, right? 

Stop Fitting Square Pegs in Round Holes

Okay, the title is a bit provocative, but you get the point. While standardisation offers undeniable benefits, it’s not a panacea. It can, and does, block innovation, reduce flexibility, and stifle competition.

The key is to strike a balance. By using Digital Hive to collate ABI software into one easily accessible front end, you can begin fostering an environment that encourages usage, improves productivity of users and power users, adapts to change and helps BI teams prioritize work and understand value. We can enjoy the benefits of standardisation without falling into its potential pitfalls. After all, in the dynamic world of technology, adaptability, speed and balance are the keys to success. 

Thus, it’s not that standardisation that is bullsh*t; rather, it’s that blind adherence to standardisation, without considering its potential drawbacks and the need for balance, can lead us down a problematic path. By recognising this, we can navigate the complex landscape of technology with a more nuanced understanding and a greater potential for progress.

For more information about Digital Hive and how we can work with you to achieve amazing results, contact us today.