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Claudia Imhoff

Welcome to my blog.

This is another means for me to communicate, educate and participate within the Business Intelligence industry. It is a perfect forum for airing opinions, thoughts, vendor and client updates, problems and questions. To maximize the blog's value, it must be a participative venue. This means I will look forward to hearing from you often, since your input is vital to the blog's success. All I ask is that you treat me, the blog, and everyone who uses it with respect.

So...check it out every week to see what is new and exciting in our ever changing BI world.

About the author >

A thought leader, visionary, and practitioner, Claudia Imhoff, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on analytics, business intelligence, and the architectures to support these initiatives. Dr. Imhoff has co-authored five books on these subjects and writes articles (totaling more than 150) for technical and business magazines.

She is also the Founder of the Boulder BI Brain Trust, a consortium of independent analysts and consultants (www.BBBT.us). You can follow them on Twitter at #BBBT

Editor's Note:
More articles and resources are available in Claudia's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

February 2009 Archives

For my entire career in BI and data warehousing (going on more than 20 years now), I have heard the expression -- BI should be "easy to use". I suggest that it is time for BI's tag line to change to "easy to consume". Here's why.

At this point in BI's history, it is clear that the technology behind reporting and analytics must be easy to use. Otherwise, who would/could use it? Vendors have spent tremendous time, effort, resources, and money on making their technology the best and easiest at accessing, engineering, controlling, and formating data. We are now able to manipulate tremendous amounts of data -- terabytes and pedabytes -- with "ease".

Unfortunately, what our industry has not focused on particularly well is how the human can comprehend the firehose of data the technology now aims at them.

That is where the "easy to consume" idea comes from. Yes, I have read many articles, blogs, white papers, even twitters, on data visualization and display and we have made some good progress along these fronts. Yet, still today, whenever I get briefed by vendors, they still lead with the worn out slogan that they are easy to use. And the ability to display the data in a more "ergonomic" fashion is useful but not sufficient.

Consuming data is more than just putting it into pretty pictures or colorful splotches. It is more than just an isolated vewing of data points or reports or the manipulation of said reports or pictures. Consuming data requires a fundamental shift for BI implementers toward an understanding of the business processes that occur leading up to and continuing after the "consumption". That is, we must understand how the BI information integrates into the overall business workflow.

This requires that the BI consumption add to the business person's complete and full comprehension of a situation, event, or activity. It must be embedded seamlessly (another worn out slogan -- sorry) into the workflow so business users can perform the next activity with confidence and -- yes -- ease.

Until we change the BI slogan from "easy to use" to "easy to consume", I fear that BI will continue to be relegated to back office analysts or be limited to showing the pretty pictures to non-technical users. Technologists, let's focus on when, where, and how people use information instead of just how easily they can select data, format a report, create a graph, and so on... 

As always -- Yours in BI success! 



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Posted February 19, 2009 9:30 AM
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