No Code and BI – the Way Forward for 2021

While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about everyone and every organization on the planet, there have been some awe-inspiring new Business Intelligence solutions created during the last nine months that have really impressed me as well as helped me think about BI in a new way.

Back in March I wrote a blog about Business Intelligence and the COVID-19 Pandemic and explained how Business Intelligence (BI) could be put to good use during the pandemic. Since BI is all about getting better insights into your business and operations through your data, everyone should have been using it big time during the pandemic.

One BI Manager from a Public Utilities company told me, back in May, that he has never been so busy.  “It’s as though the whole organization woke up to the importance of BI reporting and analysis and they all want everything right now” he said.

However, it has not been easy for most organizations who have found themselves with little or no time, resources, or money to build the BI solutions that could really help them. Even those larger entities with a lot of BI solutions in place struggled to build the new ones they needed for this unprecedented situation.

So, if necessity is the mother of invention and we need to develop BI solutions quickly (in days), without resources (no programmers) and at minimal cost (no budget) then “No Code” development tools are the solution.

The BI dashboard for tracking Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 at United Surgical Partners was built in days using the Squirrel365 No Code development tool and won the Limitless BI Dashboard award in June

This was definitely inspiring, but that’s not all.  The solution that really turned my head this year and made me realize the huge potential of combining No Code and BI was an application created by Salesforce.

Salesforce set out to build a Business Value Marketing tool that would provide their salespeople with an easy way to accurately show the Return On Investment (ROI) to prospects looking to subscribe to their software solutions.  Internally they had estimated this effort would require 3 to 5 developers for a minimum of 12 months. Instead, they did a POC using the Squirrel365 No Code tool and the InfoBurst Dash for data connectivity and write back. It was a resounding success and they built out the full solution using 1 to 2 resources in less than 3 months!

What they built was an amazing business value calculator dashboard that has literally transformed the way Salesforce sells. The solution basically took 45 different Excel based ROI calculators and unified them into a single integrated dashboard.

The biggest challenge was making the dashboard intuitive and simple to use. Some skeptics had pointed out that it is hard enough to get a salesperson to open a document, let alone use a dashboard. Using Squirrel365, Salesforce was able to create a simple and logical user interface that accommodated all the business variables. They created separate tabs for the value drivers, the IT expenses, the benefits, the proposed solution and the ROI. Within each of the tabs, they could enter the customer specifics and InfoBurst Dash would write that back to the database and use it in the other tabs. They could also use dynamic sliders to see how numbers would change real-time based on changing the variables.

When they rolled out the solution, the salespeople raved about it saying that it gave them a competitive edge and was the most complete ROI solution they had ever used and would help accelerate their deals.

Within the first 2 months of use in mid-2020, the solution drove an additional $100 million in Annual Contract Value (ACV) for Salesforce.

The salespeople would frame the whole ROI discussion around the interactive dashboard and the customers themselves would use the tool and present the ROI to their executives or boards. One prospect even asked if they could just buy the ROI tool itself!

here’s a screenshot

Better yet, you can see the 30 minute video of Salesforce talking about and showing their solution in action at

And, if you don’t have a full 30 minutes, here’s a 4 minute highlight reel.

All this with zero lines of code and applying logic using Excel formulas.

It is this solution that made me think about Business Intelligence (BI) in a whole new way because if you build BI dashboards, applications or value calculators using No Code tools like Squirrel365, you can create and deploy effective BI solutions with minimal time, resources and cost which is exactly the way forward for 2021.

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