Tag Archives: BI applications

How to increase BI adoption by giving store and depot managers constant access to information

Around the worldFor the past several years, BI adoption rates have been stuck stubbornly at around 20%. So, what can we do to increase adoption rates to ensure more of our business people have access to correct, up-to-date, information to help them do their jobs more effectively?

Take store and depot managers, for example. What information do they need to make them more effective – visibility into stock levels, lead times, on-time delivery rates?

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Most people need BI apps, not “self-service”

BI in healthcareAs 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.

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What weather websites can teach you about business intelligence

Weather websites and BIDrawing a comparison between a business dashboard and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Weather page might seem odd, but I’m convinced it is valid.

And, more than that, I think it points a way to the future of dashboards as we use them in our businesses.

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Friday tip: how to share dashboards

Interactive dashboardYou know those awesome dashboards you’ve created and designed for your business? The interactive ones that show business insights that will help your team make better, data-driven decisions?

Don’t let them gather virtual dust – sharing them is a lot easier than you think!

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Sharing Big Data insights with business users

Big DataAs we approach the end of February it seems like 2015 could be the year where the backlash starts against Big Data. I’ve seen numerous articles this year. including this one from InformationWeek, this one from ZDNet and this one from Quartz – ouch!, which paint a less rosy picture of the value of Big Data and, in fact, Big Data in general.

Is it all it is hyped up to be?

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The Ultimate Oscars Dashboard

OscarsIt’s that time of year again where the stars put on their nicest frocks and cross their fingers that they’ll bag the ultimate award – an Oscar. It’s the premier award ceremony and it’s watched by millions worldwide.

But what’s it got to do with business intelligence dashboards?

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What lies beyond Data Discovery?

Evolution of Business IntelligenceI’ve never bought into the line that “we’re all analysts today”, touted by many Data Discovery vendors and some industry commentators.

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.

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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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Could a wall-mounted dashboard help boost your business?

Wall-mounted dashboard display

During the past 10 years dashboards have evolved as business-users have become more sophisticated in their needs. We’ve witnessed a trend away from old-fashioned static at-a-glance dashboards towards interactive dashboards that are really more like BI applications. Users want answers to their immediate and follow-up questions and they want that information now. They want it through an intuitive, no-training-required interface and interactive dashboards do a great job of meeting this requirement.

So you could be excused for thinking that wall-mounted dashboards are a little old-fashioned and not relevant in today’s business world – after all they are up on the wall and they are hardly interactive. Well, not quite…

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When is a Dashboard not a Dashboard ?

In a great post last year, Timo Elliott commented on the debate around the question:

‘What is the difference between “Business Intelligence” and “Business Analytics”?’

And, his typically pithy answer was; “everyone has an opinion, but nobody knows, and you shouldn’t care”.

I would wholeheartedly agree, and in fact, I would go one step further and say, it is a daft, waste-of-time, irrelevant question.

Of course, we need labels which help guide us, after all I don’t want to go to a BI conference to find out it is about stamp collecting. But academic debates about the meaning and definition of anything other than the most general labels are pointless and damaging. Who cares if it is “intelligence” or “analytics” or whether it is a “datamart” or a “datawarehouse”, the real question is “will it help our business?”

The main reason that these questions are damaging (beyond the time wasted thinking about them) is that they act as a constraint on what is possible.

A good example of this is with dashboards. There are those who would argue that a dashboard should provide information at a glance and should not be used for interacting with data, with (IMO misguided) references to car dashboards to back this up.

This flies in the face of pretty much every real world “dashboard” I have ever seen, where the ability to navigate around the data to some extent is almost always a basic requirement. In fact, the more I think about it, the more “Interactive BI App” seems to better describe what people really want when they say they are looking for a dashboard. (I know, that feels like just another definition but hopefully is it general and descriptive enough not to add to the problem).

This has an interesting echo of the much talked about “consumerisation of IT”. The consumer world (particularly where mobile is concerned) has been transformed by “apps” in the past few years and I think that in BI we could do a lot worse than wonder how we could replicate some of this success in the business world.

So, next time you see a dashboard requirement, ask yourself how it might be delivered in the spirit of an iPad app:

Engaging, specific, no training required, valuable to the end-user – not a bad place to start !

If I were to make a BI prediction about 2012 it would be that this might be the year we see the rise of the BI App (and yes they will be available on mobile as well as the desktop).