You Ask, I Answer: Business Intelligence Tools for Marketers?

Chandni asks, “What new age business intelligence tools would you recommend for marketers?”

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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Christopher Penn 0:29

Johnny asks, what New Age business intelligence tools would you recommend for marketers? New Age like, like healing crystals and stuff? I’m assuming you mean, what new? What new technologies? Would I recommend for marketers? I wouldn’t.

Here’s why.

Business Intelligence tools are like appliances.

Right? an appliance, like a blender, for example, is only as good as the person using it.

The ingredients that go into it, and the recipe you’re trying to make.

Recommending a, you know, a shiny or faster, more powerful blender doesn’t help if you don’t know what a blender is, or how to use one properly.

Right? Let’s say you’re making smoothies, should you be using a blender? Yes.

Because making a smoothie by hand sucks.

If you’re making steak, should you use a blender? Oh, oh, you shouldn’t? Not for any reason, I can’t think of a single application where that makes sense.

So there are all these business intelligence tools out there.

There’s classics like SPSS, there’s Tableau, there’s Alteryx.

There’s our studio and Python and Google Data Studio, and you name it, there’s so many to choose from.

And here’s the secret that vendors don’t want you to know that for the most part, they all pretty much do the same thing.

There are little differences here.

And there.

Certainly user interface and customer support and stuff are valid differentiators.

But in terms of the core functionality, business intelligence tools are about as different as blenders are right.

So you can get a super high end, you know, 900 Vitamix, or you can get, you know, the Amazon Basics, you know, a99 blender.

And they fundamentally do the same thing, right? They blend things, how well they blend things, how long the motor lasts and stuff.

Those are the differentiators quality of build, service and support.

same was true for BI tools.

There are different BI tools that fit like what cloud platform you’re tied into, like Power BI, if you’re a Microsoft shop, you’re probably using Power BI whether you want to or not.

If you’re an IBM shop, you’re using Watson Studio, again, whether you want to or not.

So the question then becomes, well, if the tool isn’t the differentiator, what is the answer is you.

What I recommend for marketers is not more tools, right? If you got a blender, you don’t need a second blender.

Even though every blender vendor out there would like you to buy their blender, you don’t need more than one, maybe two, if you’re afraid that that one’s going to break.

Same with BI tools, it’s not a question of do you need a better tool? Unless the tool you’ve bought is horrendous.

The bigger question is, do you know how to use the ones you have? And do you know I have a book of recipes, and you have the right ingredients? So let’s presume and say you have the right ingredients, you’ve got good data, and it’s clean, which is admittedly a very large assumption.

Do you personally know the different statistical techniques that your BI tool is performing? Do you know what questions to ask of it? Do you know when you should use regression versus classification? Do you know the different types of regression? That knowledge which is kind of like recipes, recipes and techniques and cooking, right? That knowledge is what’s going to make a BI tool useful.

So it’s not the tool, it’s the person using the tool.

And so I would recommend marketers that you learn the basics of data science, you don’t have to become a data scientist, right? You don’t have to go back and study calculus and linear algebra and stuff like that.

But you should know, for example, what are the different kinds of types of regression, you know, what are the different types of classification? There’s binary classification multinomial classification.

You should know what those things mean.

You don’t need to know the math behind them necessarily, but you should know if you open a BI tool.

What all these buttons do and what do they mean.


When you look at a blender, and you look at the control panel for blender, you should at least have a general idea of what each button does.

You don’t have to know the specifics.

You don’t have to know how electricity flows through the electromagnets to powers the motor and all that stuff.

That’s that’s not helpful.

But if there’s a smoothie button There’s a soup button, you probably should know the difference between the two.

The same thing is true your BI tools.

If a tool is saying, here’s some regression, here’s some prediction, here’s some classification.

What is it mean? What are the buttons do? When do I use? Any given button?

Christopher Penn 5:18

Do you push this button? When you have data from Excel? Do you push this button your data from Google Analytics? How do you reconcile all these different options? When you know that, when you learned that, and you can make really good informed decisions with your BI tool, then you’re cooking? Right? Then you’re able to make the most of what you have.

And as of that point, we can then say, and make an informed decision.

Yeah, actually, the 99 blood dollar blender is not cutting it anymore, we need to do something a little higher end.

But you’ll know why.

You’ll know what things your BI tool can and cannot do.

If you’re trying to do, for example, like x g boost, and the tool you have only does linear regression, you can say yeah, yeah, we need to upgrade, because the techniques that we want to use are not available in our tool.

But it has to be driven by your business requirements, by your data requirements.

And by the skills of people on your team.

One of the big challenges with a lot of BI tools is that yeah, they all have like, you know, Swiss Army Knife stuff, have, you know, all sorts of different techniques.

But do you know what to do with it? Do you know when to apply each of these techniques, and that’s what sets apart not only BI tools, but that’s what sets apart people in the organization.

I know when to use this technique versus that technique.

Right? It’s like cooking, do you know when to blend and when to fry or to broil? They’re different, they’re very different.

Again, if you’re making steak, you’re probably gonna want to boil maybe fried definitely never blend.

So that’s what I would recommend.

I can almost certainly guess there are a number of people who work at vendors saying I wish you had mentioned my tool.

And look, I’m sure your tool is great.

In the hands of somebody incompetent, it’s useless.

In the hands of somebody who’s proficient, it does amazing things.

Your challenge as a vendor is to make more people who are competent at business intelligence in general.

And your tool just happens to be the vehicle by which they do their work.

But if you don’t have that audience of people who are really good at business intelligence at the mathematical and statistical techniques, the developing the shyness tool in the world won’t help because it’s like owning a blender that you never use.

So really good question.

Thanks for asking.

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