How about taking raw data from several source systems, transforming this into a data warehouse and delivering a suite of interactive dashboards on top that can be used by frontline workers across your organization – taking you from data to business insight in a couple of weeks? Then, how about adding more data and more data sources to support changing business needs – delivered as a series of further short phases?
Unfortunately, in my opinion, this is another example of technology hype getting in the way of effective use of data in organizations.
Last week, Hugo Moreno published an article on Forbes titled The Where Factor: Location Intelligence and the Competitive Edge. In the article he highlighted the importance of visualizing data by location and utilizing the location element which is present in 80% of the data we collect.
He underlines that it is “critical to understand how location affects business”, and that analyzing the location element of data properly can “provide insights that support and improve decision-making in everything from marketing to supply chain logistics and operations”. However, Moreno points out that most traditional business intelligence platforms lack this functionality.
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.
I like to cycle. When I’m out riding my bike I have a little computer attached to the handlebars that, amongst other things, tells me how fast I’m going with a little arrow alongside indicating whether I am travelling faster or slower than my average speed for the ride.
Underpinning this arrow is a well-known formula: speed = distance / time. If I was a scientist or a mathematician I could go back to the first principles to demonstrate the proof of this formula.
However, when I’m riding my bike I don’t need to know, nor do I care about, any of this.
Businesses in every segment of the industry are now looking at their business model and processes from different perspectives in order to survive or thrive.
And, more than that, I think it points a way to the future of dashboards as we use them in our businesses.
Data Discovery has been great for the analysts in our organizations and has revolutionized the way they access, interact, and interpret data. However, I’ve always been more interested in serving the needs of the non-analysts.
In a meeting last week one of our partners, Musgrave Analytics, mentioned something that caught my attention: people are afraid to deploy dashboards to business users until the data is perfect.
Although understandable, the problem with this approach is that it can paralyze dashboard and other business intelligence projects and result in a frustrated business community that lacks access to critical information.