A Message to Data Analytics Users: More is More

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James_Fisher_QlikIn this special guest feature, James Fisher of Qlik offers his views on how the discussion of Big Data should shift much more to the user, the person using the data, the person having to make a decision. James Fisher is VP of Global Product Marketing at Qlik and an analytics geek who is passionate about customer success. James boasts 18 years’ experience in global accountancy, consultancy and software companies and has previously held positions at SAP, BusinessObjects and PwC.

It may not have escaped your notice that the hype and discussion about analytics and data refuses to subside. Perhaps this is for good reason; clearly there are many challenges we are still trying to address. However the hyperbole in many cases is painful to read and frankly misses the point. Too much of the discussion focuses on what data to use, how to make visualizations look pretty, and even what emerging trends will be the next “Big Data.” With so much information out there it can be difficult to wade through the sea of information and figure out which shiny new features will actually impact the bottom line.

The truth is that users are faced with many options, and the simple fact is we should shift the discussion much more to the user, the person using the data, the person having to make a decision. Maybe a product offers beautiful visualizations, but does it also grant the right level of trust and control that they can be confident of making the right decision? Will that graph or pie chart present just as nicely on a mobile device as it does on the desktop, or will it confuse the casual user and result in them making a different decision?

Users want simplicity and flexibility but they also require trust. They want quick insights, but the depth to explore in a way that works for them. In essence, they need a little bit of everything, but often the quest for simplicity, simply ignores this.

From my perspective, it’s easy. Users want and deserve more. So let’s give it to them.

More Control

IT’s role is shifting from enforcement to empowerment. In order to keep up, IT must innovate by focusing on what the business can do, not what they can’t do. It’s time to think differently about governing BI. To some, governance just means security, but in reality it is so much more than that. Rules-based offerings allow organizations to set up access and restrictions based on their own unique requirements. Meanwhile libraries for data architecture, dimensions and even visualizations ensure users are always looking and making decisions on the right data, the same data, and data they have access to, sharing the insight they uncover with only the people that are allowed to see it.The best part about having more governance is that it actually makes solutions more user-friendly because there is no risk that business users will “mess up” something and they see exactly what they need to explore.

More Data Sources

The good insight often comes from looking as several different data sources to gain a more complete view of what is happening. Great insights are however often the most unexpected, and come from making associations that you had not originally conceived. Yet many organizations struggle to make sense of multiple, complex data sources and as a result only tell you a part of the story. Data analytics can’t be successful if you don’t have access to all of your data and are unable to explore it in a natural, free form and intuitive way. Seems self-explanatory, but there are still plenty of products on the market that are slow to address this issue. This not only leaves users without a full view of the data they want to look at, but totally ignores all the other data sources they should be considering like third-party data. That simply complicates what should be a relatively simple decision-making process, while making the more complex – and often more important – business decisions practically impossible to address with any real degree of confidence.

More Access

Companies now routinely provide information to management and staff on their mobile devices. However, the predominant model has been focused on distribution and consumption of relatively static, pre-defined content. Although visually rich, these solutions typically can’t do the one thing that adds the most value: provide immediate answers to unanticipated questions whenever, and wherever they arise. It’s no longer just good enough to work on mobile devices, but analytics must work on all devices without any redesign required. Furthermore, the paradigm has shifted from just consuming analytics on the device; you also have to be able to create and interact with analytics wherever you are and on whatever device you happen to be using. Mobile devices are the present and the future, and we need to shift our design philosophy to this mobile-first reality.

More Possibilities

As the BI industry continues to evolve, customers are expecting robust and sustainable offerings. Moving forward, the emphasis will be on platform provision, not tools. Gone are the days of BI tools that address just one need or group of stakeholders. Today’s BI solutions need to provide beautiful visualizations and ease of use for individuals, mobile and collaborative functionality for groups and teams, and enterprise class governance and manageability for the organization. Adopting this trifecta is an essential next step for any customers, not only to impact their success, but to satisfy their quest for “more”.


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