Business intelligence and software: What you must know before you invest

Read Time

3 minutes


Kevin Kehoe


Feb 18, 2019

Business intelligence and software: What you must know before you invest

 It’s cliché to say that technology is changing rapidly.  But it is and faster than you know… and that’s why it’s important to know the investments you are going to have to make in the next few years if you are going to compete.  The companies that get this right will have a huge competitive advantage.

Landscape – Snow – Construction companies accumulate large data sets over time.  This data in its native software form is not conducive for analysis.  This is why you have a hard time getting reports you want from your software.  However, having this data provides the opportunity to create the reports you want – this is called Business Intelligence.  Business Intelligence understood and used properly can deliver significant improvements in operations and profitability because it can help you manage your clients and people better.

For example, you will be better able to:

  • Know which customers are most profitable
  • Predict Client retention rates
  • Know profitability by service line and geographical area
  • Determine routing and equipment utilization and effectiveness

According to Green Industry Pros, companies are becoming more selective about the jobs and clients they pursue.  One of the major challenges to making that determination is:  What is the best methodology and technology for getting real business value from your data?  A key requirement is having the data that will allow decision makers to see patterns that can help pinpoint inefficiencies and opportunities. But transactional and relational databases (Read:  Your current software) are not designed for easy analytics.  

What’s the solution?  Business intelligence (BI)…  BI has come a long way since the early days of traditional data warehousing.  Software instead of a solution designed for the end-user, is designed to accommodate other software applications.  You have to use the canned reports instead of choosing reports you want.   And to get the reports you, you usually need a professional to write and manage them.  This is expensive and slow.  But now with SQL Server 2012, the Business Intelligence community was introduced to the Tabular BI Semantic Model (BISM). 

In layman’s terms just know that Aspire Insights is our implementation of BISM.  It is an analytical description of activities created to provide our clients with near-real time data that can be consumed for reporting, predictive analysis, and quick visualizations.  The architecture for this platform (Figure 1) utilizes the backend relational database where we have created a dedicated and separate data warehouse. Data aggregations and supporting tables are prepared using Visual Studio 2017 and Microsoft SQL Server Data Tools.  From there the Tabular Model is deployed to Azure Analysis Services where Analysis Services databases are created.  What does this mean to you?  It means you can customize the reports you want without hiring technical staff

Aspire Insights_1

This model provides several benefits:

  • Optimal performance when aggregating large volumes of data
  • Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) for simplified report writing (English not computer-ese)
  • Scalability for large concurrent user workloads
  • User browsing of data to create queries, charts, and other visualizations. 

Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) provide ease of use and access using Microsoft Excel, Power BI, SSRS, and other analytic tools.  The DAX query language uses standard Excel formula syntax, uses relational objects, tables, columns and relationships.

Azure Active Directory B2B collaboration service is the mechanism by which users are invited to be a guest user in our Azure Active Directory tenant.  Per Microsoft, users “can be from another Azure AD tenant or any valid email address, including Microsoft accounts.”  Translation:  Aspire business management software can help you do this.  It is an add-on service but a high value-add.

Users will receive an email invitation to access Aspire Insights similar to the following:

 Aspire Insights_2

Once a user clicks on the Get Started button, they will be asked to review and accept the requested permissions.  From there, we will configure the remaining security setting. Users are then able to connect using their preferred tool using the credentials provided by Aspire.

Aspire Insights_3

Connect Using Power BI Desktop:

Aspire Insights_4

Connect Using Excel:

Aspire Insights_5


Each Aspire Insights client data is secure and isolated within our environment.  The Azure platform uses encrypted Blob storage using Azure Blob Server Side Encryption (SSE).  Aspire Insights (BI) has streamlined the process of exploring your information, identifying patterns, and discovering valuable insights, allowing decision makers to make predictions and operational decisions that will have a significant positive impact on your business. Nobody else in the industry can do this for you.

For more information contact us at kevin.kehoe@youraspire.com

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