Unfortunately, in my opinion, this is another example of technology hype getting in the way of effective use of data in organizations.
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.
Almost a year ago we published a post which explained “Five reasons why SAP Lumira is not the natural successor to SAP Dashboards (aka Xcelsius)”, and further why we believe that our DecisionPoint™ product is a better way forward.
The advice in this post still holds true, and indeed the events of the last year have reinforced our viewpoint.
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.
And, more than that, I think it points a way to the future of dashboards as we use them in our businesses.
Recently Gartner made a prediction about the BI market saying that “by 2017, most business users and analysts in organizations will have access to self-service tools to prepare data for analysis”.
Given the current heading of the BI market, I strongly suspect they are right. However, I am not convinced that this is a good thing. Let me explain why.
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.
So how do we keep our users’ attention?