An interconnected system of governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) is crucial for establishing transparency, trust, and regulatory compliance in today’s fast-paced business environment. Collecting, storing, and analyzing all that data, however, can be both overwhelming and time-consuming.

A business intelligence tool is one way to manage and report data, and to position your organization for effective security. With the right GRC platform, you can integrate your risk and compliance efforts with existing business intelligence tools, to generate comprehensive risk and compliance reports.

Using Business Intelligence to Analyze Big Data

Business intelligence (BI) is becoming crucial for creating new business opportunities. BI uses data analytics to inform your decision-making process with insights to identify and implement effective strategies; and provides historical, current, and predictive views of your business operations.

BI tools can process large amounts of structured and unstructured data, and can use machine learning to interpret “big data”—sets of data that are too large and complex to be processed by traditional methods. Big Data is typically defined by the “three Vs”: 

  • Volume: Organizations collect data from numerous sources, including business transactions, smart devices (Internet of Things), industrial equipment, videos, social media, and more. 
  • Velocity: Data streams into businesses at an unprecedented speed, and must be handled in a timely manner. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, sensors and smart meters are among the devices producing these torrents of data, which often need to be analyzed in near-real time
  • Variety: Data comes in all types of formats—from structured, numeric data in traditional databases, to unstructured text documents, emails, videos, audios, stock ticker data and financial transactions.

What organizations choose to do with the big data they generate is crucial to support a wide variety of business decisions, ranging from operational (say, product positioning or pricing) to strategic (mergers, new product development, and so forth). The challenge, however, is managing both structured and unstructured data together. When a company can’t manage its data, it can’t analyze the data properly, which can lead to poorly informed decision making

Analyzing big data without the help of a BI tool, however, can be incredibly time-consuming and almost impossible to do. 

BI platforms allow business users to analyze the big data their organization generates by combining external data (derived from the market in which the company operates) with internal data (derived from internal sources such as financial and operations functions). BI tools combine both external and internal data to glean insights that can’t be derived from any single source. In other words, a complete picture of all your data. 

Gathering data from a data warehouse: how business intelligence helps

Business intelligence applications use data gathered from a data warehouse (DW), which is a system used for reporting and data analysis. DWs are central repositories for current and historical data from one or more sources, which can then be used to generate analytical reports for employees throughout the organization.

One of the main approaches to building a data warehouse system is known as “extract, transform, and load” (ETL). Using data integration, staging, and access layers to house its key functions, an ETL-based data warehouse first extracts raw data from various sources; then integrates the data by transforming it from the staging layers; and finally loads the data into another database (often called the data warehouse database), where the data is arranged into hierarchical groups. 

Once stored in a data warehouse, data can be cleansed, transformed, and catalogued. It’s then available to employees for data mining, online and analytical processing (OLAP), predictive analytics, market research, and decision support. 

The effective and efficient use of data by analysts and managers is crucial to your organization’s ability to respond to market changes and opportunities. Business intelligence tools access and analyze these data sets and present findings in reports, summaries, dashboards, graphs, charts, and maps to provide you with detailed intelligence about the state of your organization. 

Opportunities to implement business intelligence systems to better understand your organization’s big data include:

  • Generating performance metrics and benchmarking to inform business leaders of progress towards business goals.
  • Quantifying processes for your organization to make optimal decisions and to perform business knowledge discovery. 
  • Informing strategy through business reporting involving dashboards, data visualizations, executive information systems, or OLAP.
  • Making collaboration easier inside and outside the business by enabling data sharing and electronic data interchange. 
  • Providing knowledge management, or the creation, distribution, use, and management of business intelligence, which leads to learning management and regulatory compliance. 

Self-service business intelligence and you

The drive to allow almost anyone to access useful information from business intelligence tools has led to self-service business intelligence. This category of BI tools aims to eliminate the need for the IT department’s help in generating reports covering business analytics. Making internal data reports more accessible to managers and other non-technical staff, self-service BI tools usually include business intelligence dashboards and user interfaces that are easy to understand and use. 

When considering a self-service business intelligence tool for your organization, the most important categories and features include:

  • Dashboards
  • Visualizations
  • Reporting
  • Data mining
  • ETL
  • OLAP

Dashboards and visualizations are the most popular features, by far. They offer quick, easy-to-digest data summaries that capitalize on BI’s main attraction: straightforward glimpses into the current state of your organization’s affairs. 

Although there are a wide variety of BI tools available today, choosing the right business intelligence tool for your organization can be overwhelming.  Tableau and Splunk, two of the major players in business intelligence, provide several user-friendly features for analyzing your organization’s data.


Tableau is one self-service analytics platform that provides comprehensive data visualization. It can integrate with a range of data sources, including Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse and Excel

Tableau products extract, store, and retrieve data from an in-memory data engine, and query relational databases, cloud databases, OLAP, and spreadsheets to generate graph-type data visualizations


Splunk is a “guided analytics program” that generates graphs, reports, alerts, dashboards, and visualizations to make machine data accessible throughout your organization. With integration options including Google, Splunk captures, indexes, and correlates real-time data in a searchable repository. 

Integrating business intelligence tools with ZenGRC

Collecting, storing and analyzing your data using a business intelligence platform like Tableau or Splunk not only positions your organization for better big-picture data analysis; it can also contribute to your organization’s GRC efforts. 

With the right business intelligence tool, you can easily integrate existing data sources to better inform your organization’s risk and compliance data. For example, ZenConnect for ZenGRC seamlessly integrates with both Tableau and Splunk, allowing you to view and analyze your ZenGRC data using existing BI tools.

Combining all the critical data your organization produces, the ZenConnect plugin for ZenGRC pulls data into data lakes, SIEMs, and other repositories where you can easily access information for future report generating. 

ZenGRC also eases communication and enables continuous documentation, letting you focus on the fundamental issues of compliance. 

ZenConnect encompasses several integration categories, including collaboration and messaging, workflow and ticketing, file storage, login and authentication, and business intelligence.

With ZenConnect for ZenGRC, you can integrate all of your business applications in one platform, making your organization’s risk and compliance process more simple and effective. 

 In addition to Tableau and Splunk, ZenConnect gathers evidence from a variety of data sources, and can integrate automatically with a number of popular business applications:

  • JIRA
  • ServiceNow
  • Slack
  • Qualys
  • Amazon s3
  • OneDrive
  • Box
  • OneLogin
  • Okta
  • Microsoft
  • DUO
  • Centrify

Customizable APIs also allow you to integrate applications of your choice to your GRC stack. 

Making it easy to report your risk and compliance efforts with business intelligence integration, ZenConnect for ZenGRC can save your organization time and money, and enhance your compliance program. 

Contact us today for a free consultation, and learn more about how Tableau and Splunk integration for ZenGRC can contribute to worry-free risk and compliance management.