Author Archives: @donaldmac

Simplify your business intelligence and increase adoption by learning from Steve Jobs

BI for everyoneWhilst Steve Jobs is rightly most famous for the impact he had on consumer technology, he also had – and is still having – a significant, long term impact on business technology, and business intelligence (BI) in particular.

To my mind Steve Job’s key legacy to BI is not the iPhone or the iPad but rather the mobile apps that they carry, and they are a signpost to how BI is going to change in the future. Let me explain.

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Q: Is analysis just for analysts? A: Yes and no

BI analytics In an article in the Midsize Insider a few weeks ago Shawn Drew wrote that the latest research from Gartner ”points out that advanced analytics is the fastest-growing area under the BI umbrella”.

It feels like we are moving towards a “BI for analysts only” culture, so I feel compelled to ask: Is analysis just for analysts?

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DecisionPoint™ for Excel – the route forward from Xcelsius

From spreadsheet to dashboardJust 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.

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Self-service BI – what does it mean and what do you need?

Self-service BIThere 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.

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Is Data Discovery like a Joke?

A few weeks ago, @startupvitamins tweeted a great quote :-

A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.

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

We are NOT all Data Scientists, we just need to be Data Savvy

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

Gut + Data = Better Gut (today and tomorrow)

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

A middle ground for “Pre-packaged BI Applications”

There was an interesting discussion last Friday on Howard Dresner’s weekly #BIWisdom tweetchat about pre-packaged BI applications.

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

Weather web sites and the future of Business Intelligence

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

Static BI Adoption and a Proposed Solution

Cindi Howson of BI Scorecard has just published her annual “Successful BI Survey”* and the results are sadly all too familiar.

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