We live in a world where we do not just have easy access to more information than ever before, but where we are also bombarded with more information than we can possibly absorb. The combination of social media, the internet and smart mobile devices have provided the means for us to both become information junkies and to consume vast hours of our waking lives.
We have the choice to decide which sources we use, but in our jobs we mostly use particular applications and delivery channels that have been determined for us. Nevertheless, the same applies in terms of not having time to digest all the information either available or pushed to us.
So most people have adapted to only reading or looking at part of a report, email or article or skimming through key information. We avoid long emails and articles, reports of more than 5 or 6 pages and even blogs like this one if it went over 600 words!
In the world of Business Intelligence, most consumers of BI reports and dashboards want to be able to get the key information they need right away, digest it in less than a minute and then move on. Developing and delivering comprehensive BI applications with access to millions of rows of data only works from a user adoption standpoint if you provide a simple and succinct way to summarize and view that information.
A Director of BI from a Global Electronics Distribution company once told me that their most successful BI application consisted of a summary sales analysis report that was sent as an in-line email to the mobile phone of the CEO at 5 am every morning. The CEO opened up the email, spent less than a minute looking at it and knew what he would be focusing on that day.
By contrast, another Global services company developed a comprehensive visual BI application that enabled their thousands of clients to explore and look at every aspect of the services they were providing to each client. The clients were really impressed and initially it helped the company to win business, but after a year they discovered that almost nobody was using it. When they asked the clients why, they were told it was simply too much information and too easy to get lost and all they really wanted was a one page summary!
It is important to remember that most consumers of information and reports want simple summaries and guided analysis. Too many options and capabilities will often lead to confusion and poor adoption. The BI application should be modeled on the way the user works so it matches and enhances their work flow.
Most organizations still rely on Excel and PDF reports being pushed out and this will not change for a while, but if you build BI applications using InfoBurst with SAP BO Dashboards and Web Intelligence you can embed the capability for providing those reports from within the application while adding the value of true BI guided analysis as well. You can also deliver exactly what the user wants in the right format to the right destination.
Yes, there are a small number of people in every organization whose job it is to analyze data and look for trends and patterns and those people will use powerful data discovery or predictive tools, but for everyone else they just want succinct BI because life is just too short to struggle.