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!
Technorati Tags: Business Intelligence, BI, data consumption,
Posted February 19, 2009 9:30 AM
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