It's Simple: Users Want Easier BI


We hear a lot about making business intelligence more user-friendly, more pervasive -- more democratic, if you will. All of the BI vendors are plugging these terms into their sales pitches.


So yes, the issue is over-hyped. That doesn't make it any less relevant, though. Unlike some technological developments, the impetus for easier BI is coming from users, not from vendors.


Simply put, folks are tired of having to go to IT experts to get their BI reports. They want BI with user-friendly features like search and collaboration. There is a reason dashboards have become so popular, and it can be distilled down to two words: user frustration.


Anyone who questions the need for less complex BI should read this Computerworld article that details Ace Hardware's decision to swap out its current BI system for reporting software from Information Builders.


The knocks against the old system included its rigidity and the arcane nature of reporting. "People were getting tied in knots trying to develop reports in that tool," says an IT consultant involved in the project.


One feature of the Information Builders software that won Ace over was its strong integration with Microsoft Excel, a favored application of Ace users -- and of many business folks, I'd add.


One of the biggest challenges moving forward, says this consultant, will be convincing users to put the failures of the old system behind them and give the new system the benefit of the doubt.


I really liked the tip from the director of the Data Warehousing Institute that appears near the end of the article. Get a diverse cross-section of employees to help select BI tools instead of relying on the recommendations of "power users," who will invariably select tools that are too complicated for the rank-and-file.