BI Users Focus on the Superficial

October 26, 2013

Discontent about business intelligence is at hand. EnterpriseAppsToday reports, “Big Business Intelligence Vendors Not Satisfying Users.” Search by any other name still creates dissatisfaction among some, it seems. The assertion is based on research from Gartner which indicates that users care more about the user interface than what ‘s under the hood. Writer Drew Robb tells us:

“Much of Gartner’s business intelligence (BI) research focuses on customer satisfaction and usability. Two of the biggest takeaways from several Gartner reports released over the past few months are the poor satisfaction rating mobile BI received in the face of its high popularity and the poor performance of big vendors compared to their smaller counterparts.

“Users apparently are overly enamored with the latest display-type bells and whistles, while not paying enough attention to product integration. Is this a sign that BI purchasers fall into the same trap as many car buyers? That is, paying too much attention to cup holders and music systems and not enough to vehicle fundamentals?”

Robb points out that one key challenge for BI makers is to impress upon users the value of strong integration capabilities. Since integration takes place behind the scenes, users unfamiliar with the details may not understand how important it is, let alone how to discern which company is better at it. It is no surprise, then, that they judge a product’s value based on what they can see. This gives some smaller players, who focus on their UI, an advantage over larger companies that have invested years in building strong integration components. Robb makes an apt comparison:

“[Integration] is essentially plumbing, and like the pipes in one’s own home, you really don’t care about them as long as it all works correctly. The only time this comes to your attention is when a sink clogs or a pipe bursts. Similarly, vendors that focus on integration can expect little thanks from their customer base.”

Check out the article for its take on several specific companies and how their approaches have helped or hurt them. The takeaway is this: platforms that actually perform the best, by far, are getting passed over for ones that look pretty. Robb points out that many of these solutions from what he calls the “little guys” meet their real tests when faced with deployment in large enterprise environments. How much trial and error will it take for users to grasp the importance of strong integration?

Cynthia Murrell, October 26, 2013

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