It feels like we are moving towards a “BI for analysts only” culture, so I feel compelled to ask: Is analysis just for analysts?
Just over 11 years ago, on 10th July at FlashForward 2003, SAP Dashboards, aka Xcelsius, first hit the BI market (see this and other historical facts about Xcelsius here). It was a standalone desktop tool which allowed pretty much anyone to create amazing interactive dashboards on top of data in Excel and was one of the most innovative software products of its time.
In later versions, particularly after it was acquired by Business Objects, it gained the ability to connect to enterprise data sources, but it was what it did for standalone Excel users which was the source of its initial success.
There has been a lot of talk lately about self-service within our industry. Glen Rabie, Yellowfin CEO, has been saying that self-service data discovery isn’t what users need, and Alan Hart at Business2Community has been asking if data scientists are becoming obsolete in the wake of self-service.
Labels often only serve to confuse, and “self-service BI” is certainly one of those terms. The confusion arises because “self-service BI” means widely different things to different people.
A few weeks ago, @startupvitamins tweeted a great quote :-
And no-where is this more true than end-user Business Intelligence (BI). It makes sense for analysts to carve out the time to sit down and learn generic data analysis tools as they form a central part of their jobs. But for the rest of us, with operational responsibilities, things are different, we need BI which we can just use, without explanation.
Here at Antivia we have been championing this for the last few years, (read pretty much any of our other blog posts to see what I mean). Our product DecisionPoint does exactly this, it allows you to quickly and easily create easy-to-use, no-training-required BI apps and dashboards that you don’t have to explain to end-users. Continue reading
The Big Data / Data Science storm seems to be reaching new heights. One of the articles sitting in my inbox awaiting my return from vacation upped the ante from the usual refrain of “everyone is an analyst these days” to a new level of: “We’re all data scientists now”.
To be fair to @juliakking who wrote the piece, she has a number of sensible things to say in the article and the headline may not have been hers, but nonetheless, I worry that exaggerating the level of data analysis expertise we should expect from non-data specialists often does more harm than good. After all, the fact that we can now all file our own tax returns on-line does not mean that we’re all tax accountants now. Continue reading
I love Dave Cherry’s equation “Gut + Data > Gut” in his article where he argues that gut feel is always better when complemented by data.
I would take it a step further and add that :-
Gut + Data = Better Gut
After all, gut feel comes from experience and what is experience if not the collection of data (often informally) about a particular business or organization? Continue reading
Unfortunately, I couldn’t be on the chat at the time but reviewing the conversation it felt like there is little belief that pre-packaged BI applications which you can just “plug in and use” are really viable, they came low on importance in Howard’s most recent #WisdomofCrowds survey and most people on the chat seemed to worry about the need for customization. Continue reading
Comparing Business Intelligence to weather web sites might seem a little odd, but I am convinced it is valid and more importantly highlights a path to the future for the way we use information in our organizations. Continue reading
Once again BI adoption is pretty much static at 22% (a little down on last year’s 24%, but probably statistically flat).
As I have written about time and time again in this blog, my strong feeling is that the reason for this flat-lining of BI adoption is that we have saturated the “analyst” BI market and we are going about “end-user” BI in the wrong way Continue reading
If I am right, then it is a little odd because when I have talked to people at SAP the strong message I get is that Lumira is a tool targeted at analysts, and analysts, I would argue, are a small minority of the potential BI users in an organization.
Despite some of the more outlandish claims in the market, we are NOT “all analysts these days”. The vast majority of us have jobs to do which involve running part of a business, and although we need data and information to do this, this does not make us analysts or suitable users for an analyst tool.