Thoughts

Consumerization of BI – part #1

Davorin Gabrovec on November 15, 2014 • 5 minute read

Business Intelligence (BI) is the next ‘legacy’ multi-billion dollar industry that hasn’t changed much over the last few decades – and one that desperately needs changing.

While traditional vendors like IBM/Cognos, SAP/BO and Oracle still hold the largest slice of the pie and several Cloud BI vendors such as GoodData and Domo have emerged recently, unfortunately, besides moving to the cloud, the basic approach to BI hasn’t changed much. Specifically, the movement towards cloud infrastructure has done little to benefit access and adoption by line-of-business end users and decision makers.

Here are 4 areas that remain the same:

  1. Legacy BI serves the high end, enterprise market:
    Business Intelligence is still primarily built for large corporations. But what about small to medium size companies? aren’t they becoming more and more data driven as well?
  2. Legacy BI has long and expensive implementation cycles:
    Predominantly technical teams are trying to solve too many things at once. BI implementation projects are delayed or derailed with the need to integrate with too many behind-the-firewall solutions. There is too little effort invested identifying the right business needs and asking the right questions. Mostly because of their complexity, business support and poor user adoption, the majority of these projects fail.
  3. Legacy BI systems are built for analysts and technical staff:
    This is still a fundamental problem with all existing BI tools on the market. They are too complex for the average business user and are primarily built for Analysts. Request for decision enabling information means long lead times — decision makers are waiting days and weeks for information needed to affect business performance in real-time.
  4. Poor Mobile and Tablet support:
    BI tools are still primarily built for desktops. Some legacy BI vendors claim to have “mobile support”, but in most cases they can’t drive adoption within companies. The problem — complexity! Mobile and tablet applications are built with the same level of complexity, one that surpasses an average business user. As a result, even though decision-making executives are spending most of their time on smart phones, they still don’t have the right tools to derive meaning from all the data.

Enterprise Mobility and BYOD (bring your own device) are creating a big shift in the Enterprise.

More and more employees are requesting access to data wherever they are. Companies will need to support this trend beyond simply allowing access to email inboxes. Establishing a data-driven culture and enabling executives and all decision makers to make informed decisions on up-to-date information from their smartphones will create a massive boost in productivity and overall more agile organizations. Empowering the entire workforce to collaborate on real-time data and make better, faster data-driven decisions will increase motivation, innovation and tap the collective intelligence, largely inaccessible today.

Mobile is the next big shift in Business Intelligence industry

“Mobile business intelligence is a logical extension of traditional business intelligence…” MicroStrategy, iPhone and iPad app announcement

Well, MicroStrategy, think again.

Innovative vendors will have to be at the forefront of this shift, working closely with their clients to drive rapid adoption. Here’s what will eventually split the market between true mobile BI vendors and the legacy vendors.

  1. Understanding who you’re building for
    When it comes to building mobile apps you really need to understand who you’re building it for and what would be the the most common use cases. It is really important to understand who the primary user is — senior executives, sales managers, analysts, or any other decision maker within the organization.
  2. Focusing strongly on design and great UX
    Great design and user experience are important when building a Mobile app, especially when it comes to Enterprises. There is also a huge difference between building tablet or smartphone apps. The way we consume information on tablets is very different from a smartphone experience – smartphone apps usually get opened 50+ times a day, with users having short 1–2 minute sessions to check email etc. while, when we pick up tablets, we usually have a bit longer session and dive deep into reading / working mode.
  3. Doing more than plain visualization
    The potential of mobile in BI expands far beyond traditional data visualization. Beside design, security and performance, delivering insights via push notifications, real-time alerts or daily scorecards are really important, because these capabilities bring you information when you need it. A great UI/UX that enables seamless data accessibility is of course the first part, but extending this to additional smartphone features will enable data-driven collaboration and drive immediate action.
  4. Understanding how to empower decisions through mobile
    Upon receiving a notification, business users should be empowered to take action. Igniting teams to get additional insights, enhance a chart or share a snapshot of KPIs cross functionally to diagnose a problem can lead to immediate performance improvement and to closing the data feedback loop.

If you think Mobile BI is just an extension of traditional desktop BI
— think again!

Providing the same old dashboards on mobile devices is not enough! Users need to be able to interact with and collaborate on the data they are looking at in ways they are used to, directly on their devices. Data needs to be delivered in new and optimized ways, based on users roles and locations. Easy self-service on-boarding is paramount to get maximum adoption of and benefit from your BI implementation.

Why should we, in times when you can even customize what’s written on your soda, be at the mercy of generic BI solutions that serve all — but none in particular?

To be continued in part #2.

About the author
Davorin Gabrovec is Databox's Chief Product Officer. He's obsessed with products, design, and building great teams. Davorin was previously a professional athlete, a Martial Arts World Champion.
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