Business experts in marketing, finance, sales, and operations need accurate, real-time data and insights to drive critical business decisions. But while 81% of businesses agree data should be at the heart of all decision making, 38% of business experts admit to having given up on getting the insights they need. Why is this?
Business experts have to wait days, if not weeks, for business intelligence (BI) teams to pull data and provide reports from BI tools that require technical expertise.
The reports and dashboards generated by BI teams often lead to more questions than answers. Without the ability to dig into the data behind these dashboards, business experts must go back to the data team for more information, adding more time to the process.
Desperate to get answers in a timely fashion, business experts turn to static spreadsheet extracts, but are left with a fragmented and delayed view of performance. Sound familiar?
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Welcome to Sigma, a BI solution that empowers teams to securely explore data at scale with a UI they know and love: the spreadsheet. Here, we dig into how Sigma allows business domain experts like you to go beyond the dashboard to explore data on-demand, without the limitations of spreadsheets or the need to know how to code.
So, What’s in It for You?
While most BI tools fail to extend the ability to access, explore, and analyze data to the full organization, Sigma takes an alternative approach, empowering employees of all technical abilities to freely interact with data and quickly generate insights.
Benefit #1: Access Data Directly
Let’s face it. In today’s fast-paced competitive marketplace, businesses can’t afford to wait on BI teams to give them the data needed to drive critical business decisions. Sigma allows business users to independently access and analyze data in a spreadsheet-like environment that automatically generates code underneath the hood (more on that later).
This means business experts are free to explore data at their own pace, and get answers to any questions in real time. In other words, there’s no need to know what questions to ask before going to data and BI teams for help — which can also lead to the discovery of unexpected insights.
Better yet, with Sigma, dashboards are starting points, not stop signs. Unlike other BI tools, Sigma allows business users to drill down into dashboards created by BI teams and ask follow up questions. This gives individuals the power and freedom to analyze data at the most granular level — not just a summary or aggregate or subset.
For example, it’s the second half of the quarter and marketing dashboard shows that you are short on pipeline. Something needs to be done, and fast! Rather than having to wait on your BI team to send you a report with more details, Sigma allows you to click into and explore the data underneath the dashboard.
You’re able to quickly drill down and see specific lead sources for high-revenue closed/won deals over the last 6 months. You take this information to your campaigns team and ask them to reallocate their ad budgets accordingly to maximize pipeline conversions and dollar amounts. Decisions like these need to be made in real-time, not two to four weeks later when your BI team has the resources to process your request!
Benefit #2: Get Answers Fast
Today’s teams have more data sources and volumes than ever before, and integrating these in a spreadsheet is not only super messy and time-consuming, but often impossible with large data sets. You can only analyze a limited amount of rows before you reach the inherent limits of the spreadsheet. It’s not uncommon for today’s businesses to have data sets orders of magnitude larger than that.
What’s more, because data is created so rapidly in today’s always-on economy, spreadsheets become outdated the second you download them. This snapshot view forces business users to make decisions based on past performance when they need to operate in real time.
For example, a finance professional needs to perform margin analysis. They want to ensure that products are delivered at a profit and need to build a model to forecast how pricing or cost changes impact the bottom line. They download an Excel file with over 60 million rows of data to their computer and quickly realize that it cannot handle a report of this size.
Sigma was built to harness the scale, speed, and sheer power of the cloud. So this means you can process data from dozens of sources in seconds, easily crunch through billions of rows of data, and easily drill into as much detail as you need — all with live, up to the minute data.
Benefit #3: Reuse & Repurpose Analyses
Extracting data to spreadsheets causes a significant problem: Data is outdated the moment it leaves the BI team’s data warehouse. This means that teams across marketing, finance, and sales must manually recreate or update any recurring or frequently requested reports. To make matters worse, sharing these data extracts not only creates version control issues, but also causes security and governance risks.
But because Sigma pulls live data directly from a company’s cloud data warehouse (more on that in a second!) reports can be built just once and automatically stay updated, saving teams time and unnecessary headaches.
Dashboards and reports can also be shared with colleagues who can then duplicate and repurpose analyses without fear of causing version control confusion or disturbing others’ work. Collaborating across teams and departments is a breeze when everyone is working off of the same live, accurate datasets!
For example, imagine your team is responsible for generating a monthly sales pipeline report for executives. In the past, this report would need to be updated each month — a process that took days. But with Sigma, it automatically stays up to date, so you don’t have to recreate it. It can also be repurposed by the marketing team to see how marketing leads are flowing through the sales funnel.
Wait...How Does This Work?
Sigma was purpose-built from the ground-up to deliver these benefits to business teams. Architected to take advantage of the scale, speed, and sheer-power of the cloud, Sigma empowers everyone to quickly start analyzing data by taking the spreadsheet teams know and love to the next level.
Sigma and the Cloud Data Warehouse
Sigma gets information from your cloud data warehouse: a center that collects information from all of your company’s data sources (e.g., Salesforce, Mixpanel, etc.). Sigma then reads the raw data from the data warehouse, allowing you to freely explore and analyze the data without the risk of accidentally corrupting or deleting data in the warehouse. Because the warehouse is automatically updated and Sigma takes this into account, you’re always working with accurate, up-to-date data to make timely decisions.
Sigma vs. the Traditional Spreadsheet
70% of business experts use Excel to analyze data, so Sigma is easy to learn for anyone familiar with spreadsheets and even offers many of the same formulas and functions. However, Sigma also provides many advantages:
Unlike traditional data extracts, data in Sigma is accessed live directly from your BI team’s cloud data warehouse. This makes it possible to analyze all of your data at once — literally billions of rows — without being limited to the processing power of your local machine.
Because Sigma is directly connected to the cloud data warehouse, data in Sigma is dynamic. The results of your analysis may be different every time you open the worksheet, as we automatically use the latest data.
There is no risk of accidentally corrupting or deleting data in Sigma because it stays safe in the warehouse.
In spreadsheets you work in cells, but in Sigma you work in columns. All commands are applied to an entire column, using other columns as inputs. This ensures you are always taking into account all of the data available in the data warehouse.
It allows you to organize your data using levels and groups, unlike traditional spreadsheets, where data is flat. Sorting data in flat systems is easy, but the only way to create calculations based on that data's subsets is to create a pivot table. Sigma, on the other hand, gives you more power for more in-depth analysis.
To learn more, read From Spreadsheets to Sigma: 5 Things to Know.
So, What Do You Think?
Imagine a world where you didn’t have to work with one hand tied behind your back. One where you could independently access the real-time data you need to answer your questions without delay. A world free from the frustrating and time-consuming back and forth with your BI team that prevents you from making informed decisions with agility. One without messy data extracts.
Fortunately, your BI team chose Sigma, so that world is only a few clicks away!
Get started now and learn to use Sigma today!