Seven things your BI platform is missing, why BI projects fail to deliver value
By Gustav Piater, Sales and Marketing Director, AIGS (Yellowfin South Africa)
As organisations strive to become more data-driven, the challenge is to give more organisational role-players access to the data they need at the point of decision-making, says Gustav Piater, Sales and Marketing Director, AIGS (Yellowfin South Africa).
Unfortunately, this is where traditional business intelligence (BI) platforms fall short, leaving organisations disconnected from actionable data in decision-making contexts - in the field, via e-mail and in meetings.
As a result, user adoption of traditional BI is still less than 20%, according to most industry analysts. BI quite simply focuses too much on the analyst experience and not enough on the data needs of decision-makers.
It's therefore gratifying to note the success of platforms that bridge the gap between the creation of analytic content and its consumption - either via more direct accessibility to more people in the organisation, or through greater share-ability. This principle has been outlined in two of the industry's most respected annual reports: BARC's 2015 The BI Survey 15 and Gartner's 2016 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms.
So, what does it take for your BI platform to make data more accessible, valuable and actionable? Here are seven things your current BI solution is probably missing:
1. One platform for everyone
BI is about more than just data discovery. Most organisations use multiple BI solutions, and each solves a different BI problem. But instead of separating your data into different analytic silos, you should look for platforms that consolidate your top-down traditional reporting, bottom-up data discovery and embedded analytics capabilities into a single governed BI platform.
2. Best practice analytics from Web applications
Much of your data today is stored in a combination of SaaS (software as a service) applications, on-premises and hosted platforms. Extracting intelligence from these applications is now as easy as connecting to an on-premises or hosted environment, and perhaps even easier, since Web app connectors come bundled with ready-to-use out-of-the-box dashboards and reports.
This means you can now connect to your favourite online applications - Salesforce.com, Marketo or Xero as well as other social platforms like Google Analytics, Facebook or Twitter - and then, seconds later, explore your data in best practice interactive dashboards!
3. Business collaboration
Why separate your BI from the business conversation? Instead, make your entire organisation smarter by linking your quantitative data with qualitative insights through annotations and comments. Engage with colleagues and bring together all the important information with social timelines. Add posts to discussion threads, then drag-and-drop action items into organised columns to better brainstorm ideas, organise tasks and manage projects.
4. From storytelling to decision-making
When you think about it, data analysis is not about data and charts; it's about finding and telling a story and then making and executing on a decision. So why paste a static screenshot of a chart or table into PowerPoint when you can tell stories using live and interactive visualisations, and task responsible parties for execution of decisions? Influence your audience and make your presentations more impactful. Remember: facts tell, but stories sell!
5. Streamlined analytic and data quality tasks
Until now, requesting analytic content and flagging data quality issues were always functions performed outside the BI platform.
But, rather than forcing busy decision-makers to do their own self-service data cleansing and discovery, give them the power to assign tasks to the data experts instead. Make your data more trusted by allowing business users to report data quality issues directly to your data stewards. Bring the people that use BI content and its creators together with a feedback loop everyone will love.
6. Data-driven alerts and exception management actions
The amount of data on offer can be overwhelming, making it hard to identify critical changes in your data as they occur. Combat this problem by creating data-driven alerts that automatically notify you when certain conditions are not met or when specific items need attention. Or, create data-driven actions that automatically create accountable tasks with deadlines, which notify people about what needs to be done. Turn your insights into action.
7. A platform built for trust
Gartner predicts that "through 2017, less than 10% of self-service BI initiatives will be governed sufficiently to prevent inconsistencies that adversely affect the business". At best, BI deployments lead to departmental data silos with conflicting or inconsistent definitions and calculations. At worst, they leave your business vulnerable to security breaches. With a single integrated platform and governed data sources, you can give the business the power to quickly find and share insights, while also ensuring IT has complete security and governance over your BI environment.
Just the tipping point
The links between those who create and consume analytic content are becoming ever stronger, with powerful collaboration, sharing and accessibility.
There's every chance this new wave of technological change may prove to be the tipping point that was needed for BI to finally fulfil its promise. There is widespread consensus that we may be at the cusp of a golden age of data-driven human activity, with business at the leading edge of innovation.