As you plan your move away from Xcelsius/SAP Dashboards (which, if you are not already doing, you really ought to get started) then I would recommend listening to a recent episode of the Diversified Semantic Layer Podcast* entitled “Is DesignStudio the Dashboard Slayer?”.
The question up for discussion was whether DesignStudio is a suitable replacement for Xcelsius / SAP Dashboards. Key quotes were:
“If [in DesignStudio] you want more than a single chart pointing at a single data source that doesn’t need to refresh or have any interaction … you need to write some sort of code”
“If you are a traditional Xcelsius developer I don’t know how you would get started with that”
“If you are a BX or BEx shop it makes a lot of sense to use DS, if you are not, good ******* luck for the time being”
“Turning all your Xcelsius developers into Design Studio developers; that is not going to happen for most customers”
As someone who has previously written (here and here) about how technology labels often don’t help us, you might think it a little odd to find me writing a post comparing one label (BI Apps) with another (self-service BI), but bear with me.
I came across an article written by a product marketing chap, which draws an interesting analogy between doctors needing patient information and corporate users of BI. The article is not recent, but we still see a trend, especially from vendors, claiming that self-service BI is everything business users need.
The author of the article asks us to imagine a scenario where doctors are not allowed to access data directly, but instead have to go and ask non-medical, data-specialists for the information, sometimes waiting hours or days for the answers. Clearly, this is supposed to be a parody on the way BI works in some organizations and equally clearly this would be a ludicrous way to run a hospital.
The battle for attention is a big part of the success of any dashboard. As Mico Yuk says, “the only metric that matters in BI is user adoption” – if your dashboard isn’t used, it doesn’t matter how good it looks or how efficiently is conveys information.
So how do you design a dashboard that resonates with your business users and increases engagement and adoption?
With the rise of cloud based business systems (accounting, CRM, customer support) smaller organizations now have immediate, easy, low-cost access to the same range of transactional systems that larger organizations have enjoyed for years.
Unfortunately when it comes to getting a deeper understanding of the data these systems capture, the story can be rather different.
In a recent LinkedIn Pulse post, Bill Nicely expressed frustration with the current Business Intelligence (BI) vogue for Data Discovery, which is being over-marketed as meaning “you don’t need IT anymore” to do BI.
He’s right to be frustrated. It might be convenient to pretend that IT doesn’t need to be involved, but in the medium to long run this just hugely undermines the overall potential of BI, including the valuable contribution Data Discovery has to offer.
We live at a time where there is vastly more information available than ever before. Tech trends like the Internet of Things are taking us into a world of connectedness, and everyone from Gartner to IDC are predicting big stuff for “the Things” in 2015.
In fact there is already far too much information out there for us to be able to meaningfully take it all in. However it is increasingly important that we use as much of this data as we can to avoid being left behind in both our work and our personal lives.