Analytics—information gleaned from the systematic analysis of data or statistics—is being credited with significant improvements in business performance. Analytics can give executives the ability to make better business decisions and help companies improve processes, boost revenues, and trim expenses.

Go Ahead—Believe the Hype

The hype around analytics is fully justified. According to a 2014 study by Nucleus Research, the average return on investment for every dollar spent on analytics is $13.01. In 2011, the average ROI was $10.66, so if history is any indication, the ROI on analytics will continue to grow.

Let’s Get Visual

But to extract the most value out of analytics, you need to apply them properly. The most useful analytics go way beyond rows and rows of text in a spreadsheet. Visual analytics are the way of the future—with visual analytics, you can quickly grasp trends and develop insights to improve your business operations.

According to an oft-cited (but unsubstantiated) statistic, the brain can process visual information 60,000 times faster than it can process text. Even if the processing time isn’t exponentially faster for visuals, visuals provide a quick and easy way to compare disparate information. After all, there’s truth to the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

What to Look for in Visual Analytics

Your visual analytics tool should be well integrated into your business processes and systems. In other words, you shouldn’t have to step out of your business processes and most frequently used programs to access and analyze visual data.

Visual analytics should be easily accessible by the average user. If the tool is too complicated or requires IT support, it won’t be used frequently. (And you’ll be squandering valuable IT resources.) Simple, self-service access is a must.

Perhaps most importantly, visual analytics should reflect real-time data and should be available 24/7. When your business runs around the clock, you need always-on access to the latest data. Too many organizations spend 90 percent of their time extracting and debating about the validity of their data and only 10 percent on actually using it to improve their decision-making. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Are Your Analytics Capabilities Meeting Your Needs?

Many organizations using NetSuite find that the built-in reporting and analytics capabilities provide a wealth of useful data. But sometimes, NetSuite’s tools are not enough.

For organizations seeking more user interactivity, such additional filters or the ability to drill deeper into data, or those wishing to examine external data sources (social media activity or Salesforce CRM data), more robust capabilities are necessary. And we don’t mean copying and pasting your data into Excel.

The good news is that a strong and varied ecosystem of NetSuite partners exists to help you. And iCharts has developed a helpful list of 10 key requirements you should seek in a business intelligence, reporting, or analytics partner. We also offer a free guide to assist you in evaluating your options once you’ve outgrown NetSuite’s native reporting.

After you’ve reviewed the key requirements and read through our free guide, we invite you to take a look at the iCharts for NetSuite on-demand demo and see for yourself how visual analytics can turbocharge your business.