Author Archives: @donaldmac

Self-service BI requires more than generic data exploration tools

gas station In a recent blog post: “The Myth of Self-Service Analytics“, data visualization expert Stephen Few took BI vendors to task for their use of the term “self-service”. He opened with the remark: “Exploring and analyzing data is not at all like pumping your own gas”.

The pumping gas analogy is one I like. It is also one I have used myself for some time. The earliest example I could find being this slide from a presentation I gave back in 2013: Continue reading

If you wanted a sandwich, you would not tolerate BI-style “self-service”

Self-Service Sandwich BarIn his recent blog post, Wayne Eckerson opens:

The promise of self-service analytics is almost too good to be true. Business people get the information they want, when they want it, how they want it

From there, he goes on to explain how he has seen this vision fail inside organizations, in a post which nicely articulates some of the pitfalls of self-service analytics.

However, I want to take a step back and look at his opening premise. Particularly, the aspect summarized as: Self-service analytics gives business people information “how they want it”. Continue reading

Is end-user training killing your BI project?

User TrainingDo you have time set aside in your business intelligence (BI) project plan to train your business end-users? If you do, then I would urge you to think hard about what you are doing, because the need for business user training may well be an indicator that your project will not be the success you are hoping for.

As Mico Yuk is fond of saying, there is only one success metric which matters in BI: User Adoption. And, there are three reasons why the need for business user training kills adoption: Continue reading

Two rays of hope from Howard Dresner’s Wisdom of the Crowds

rays of hopeLast week, Howard Dresner, a long-time BI analyst and the person who, back in 1989, coined the modern use of the term Business Intelligence, posted to his blog on Sand Hill an article which, at least to my mind, contained two of the best pieces of news about BI I have heard for a long, long time. These were the following quotes from his “Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study”:

 

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“Should everyone have access to self-service data integration?”

data scientistAlmost as soon as I had published my last post (speaking up for forgotten business intelligence users), I saw the following question in a tweet from industry analyst, Wayne Eckerson (@weckerson):

“Should everyone have access to self-service data integration?”

This is a bit like asking:

“Should we give sharp knives to all children?” Continue reading

Speaking up for forgotten business intelligence users 

There seems to be a conspiracy in the Business Intelligence (BI) world to ignore the needs of the large majority of users in an organization, namely most of the business users!

I don’t for a minute think this is deliberate. But, it is a significant oversight in a world where getting information to EVERYONE should have become a basic requirement of doing business.

In listening to the commentary around the market, you would be forgiven for thinking that the only capabilities that matter any more are: Continue reading

Are you missing most of the value of your Big Data?

Big DataIf there is a data lake in your organization, what percentage of your organization see data from it on a daily basis?

I suspect the answer in most organizations, even the most Big Data savvy ones, is very low – possibly much lower than 10%.

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DesignStudio as a replacement for SAP Dashboards/Xcelsius?

xcelsius grim reaperAs 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”

So for non-BW users, that sounds like a resounding “no”! Continue reading

Data Lakes, Data Warehouses or both?

Data LakeI am starting to see more and more people writing that data lakes are “replacing data warehouses”.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, this is another example of technology hype getting in the way of effective use of data in organizations.

Continue reading