Ease of Use: A Barrier to Business Intelligence Adoption

October 13, 2010

This story is a preview of a new ArnoldIT.com blog now in a limited test.

Training wheels are a good thing when learning to ride a bicycle. Once the training wheels are off, the rider is on his or her own. Most people survive bicycle riding without much more than a few bumps and scrapes. A small percentage suffer serious injuries.

For years, business intelligence came equipped with training wheels and a person with a degree in statistics with programming expertise. For a manager to hop on a business intelligence system, one of these experts plus training wheels were required. Not surprisingly, in this era of rapid fire decision making and flows of big data, who has time for the stats wonk and the speed inhibiting training wheels.

The argument in many organizations boils down to a demand from users to get direct access to business intelligence systems. Just as every Web surfer perceives himself / herself as an expert in online research, that confidence now reaches to most professionals.

Ease of Use Is a Big Driver of SaaS Business Intelligence” reinforces this shift in the business intelligence market. According to the article on ITBusinessEdge.com:

When business users are actively involved in purchasing BI, ease of use is one of their primary criteria. And as White [a TDWI researcher] writes, “SaaS BI tools are generally intuitive, easy to use, and easy to understand.” Aberdeen found organizations using SaaS BI have 50 percent more self-service BI users than companies that do not use SaaS. That’s significant, since some folks think that getting more people using BI is the key to ROI. It’s also no surprise, then, that Dresner Advisory Services found earlier this year that vendors selling SaaS BI products are gaining ground on companies offering traditional, on-premise BI software. In addition to less-intimidating user interfaces, another reason SaaS BI is easier to use is because deployments typically are based on smaller, simpler data models. As White notes, SMBs using SaaS have smaller and less complex data sets than their larger counterparts. And at big companies, individual departments often use SaaS BI to supplement on-premise deployments by filling niches that traditional software doesn’t adequately address. “This smaller scale can make data inherently easier to navigate and easier to slice and dice,” White writes.

My opinion is that the “user experience” or UX will become more important that the user’s understanding of the underlying data’s strengths and weaknesses. Point and click works well in many situations. I am not convinced that buying a mission critical business intelligence system whether implemented via the cloud or on premises because of the snappy graphics and interface is appropriate.

Game link interfaces that obfuscate the underlying data may lead to very poorly informed decisions. A business intelligence system that isolates the user from the moving parts that put the information in a context may create more problems than its solves. Eye candy may not have the caloric value needed. I prefer a system that combines both rigor and ease of use. More importantly, I want the vendor to be standing by in case my ride begins to wobble. I saw a demonstration of a system from Digital Reasoning that struck me as having a good balance of features and functions without sacrificing ease of use.

Stephen E  Arnold, October 13, 2010


One Response to “Ease of Use: A Barrier to Business Intelligence Adoption”

  1. Megan Samples on December 8th, 2010 6:42 am

    I think that Business Intelligence training is very necessary.Business Intelligence Consultants can Improve employee productivity and timeliness of project delivery and Maximize the effectiveness of formal training programs.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta