Let’s talk about what the most effective BI and analytics implementations get right: The overarching analytics strategy driving them is formulated with the entire organization in mind.
A broad-reaching plan that addresses the full spectrum of your enterprise’s needs will achieve widespread use and deliver the most value to your business, yet many organizations build their strategies around a handful of core tactical solutions. For example, they implement disconnected data discovery tools that allow users to generate their own analysis or create their own visualizations, but these tools are too complicated for the typical non-technical business user.
If you try to align analytics tools to meet the needs of your broader non-technical user audience, you will fail, no matter how easy they are to use.
For a successful BI and analytics implementation, it really comes down to one question: What do your users want – tools are apps? It’s not an either or decision. Both are required if you want to meet broad BI and analytics strategies.
Tools are appropriate for those that understand data and are comfortable working with do-it-yourself-type tools.
Apps are ideal for non-technical users that occasionally need answers to more tactical business questions.
If you try to align analytics tools to meet the needs of your broader non-technical user audience, you will fail, no matter how easy they are to use. This is because it’s not the non-technical business user’s role in the enterprise to work with a BI and analytics tool and generate their own independent insights.
Another common pitfall that organizations fall into to satisfy the needs of non-technical business users is to provide them with static reports and content. While this may provide some value, it is limiting when users cannot interact with or ask more questions of the data. So, how do you provide flexible self-service capabilities to non-technical business users without introducing them to tools? This is where data-driven BI and analytical apps come in.
Apps offer the most casual of user a simple, intuitive way to engage in advanced information analysis, while shielding the user from the complexities of data and analytics. They behave much like consumer apps used to validate your checking account balance or book a flight. They offer ease, simplicity and convenience so anyone can use them with little to no training. And since they are not static, they have the ability to answer more than one business question without the need for a tool or phone call to someone with a tool. All of this drives BI and analytics adoption and improves operational efficiencies.
Getting to a tool AND app approach doesn’t necessarily equate to purchasing a bunch of one-off solutions. Doing so can lead to technical headaches and unnecessary expenditures and should be avoided. Instead, look for a single comprehensive platform with a variety of capabilities and tools to meet with information needs of all your users. Our customer, United Way, successfully deployed the WebFOCUS platform to meet the unique needs of 13,000 users to better serve 61 million people each year with targeted, relevant services.
Continue on to Worst Practice #5: Ignoring Important Data Sources.