Reliable and great in its time, developing photos through old-school film-based photo processing was a long, time-consuming process - much like legacy business intelligence (BI) environments.
The results were also difficult to share and often ended up collecting dust on a shelf. To match the speed of modern day decision-making, all businesses need agility from today’s BI technology and, as a result, the Instagrams of the BI world are already beginning to appear.
The successful BI technologies of the future will look to replicate the social media model of content distribution and consumption, in which 90 per cent of participants of a community view content, 9 per cent edit content and just 1 per cent actively create new content. While Yellowfin supports quick and easy content creation, our main goal is to support the 99 per cent - those who consume BI insights so that they can do their day job better. We do this by making it easy to share BI content, as data is more valuable when shared. Sharing BI-based insights lets the right people make the best decisions.
There is no doubt that the pitfalls associated with traditional BI - chiefly its inability to support pervasive business user-oriented deployments with agile information access - have fuelled the adoption of desktop-based data discovery tools and driven business users to manage their own analysis. Those tools have attempted to solve the immediacy issue by offering a platform for users to create and explore BI content without reliance on IT.
Yet these new solutions have also contributed to a serious governance problem. Rolling out desktop BI tools without enterprise-wide governance in place can create islands of unmanageable, unregulated information which can cause a lack of control over the quality of the data and analysis. BI can then become vulnerable to a lack of accountability and accuracy, leading to a lack of trust among users. And there’s no better way to generate user abandonment than untrustworthy insights.
An even more serious impact of ungoverned data discovery is making decisions based on incorrect data and analysis. A decision based on inaccurate information can be extremely costly. For example, in 2010 TUI Travel overstated its revenue for the previous year because of a data integration error. The error occurred when the company attempted to bring silos of information together, resulting in the CFO stepping down. The thought that we could be heading back in the direction of ungoverned, desktop-based BI environments which draw on a siloed view of data is a daunting prospect.
Despite such scenarios, the promise of rapid data manipulation, exploration and analysis via desktop-based data discovery tools is a concept that remains puzzlingly seductive for business analysts in particular. Such practices might appear to solve the need for greater agility when it comes to data access. But any apparent short-term gains are quickly counteracted by ongoing long-term pain. For pervasive business user BI to work in today’s organisations, we need BI that allows more people to access, share and act on a single source of trustworthy information and analysis.
Trust in data is important. Organisations need a single source of the truth - a single platform through which BI content and data-based insights can be quickly, easily, uniformly and pervasively shared. It is paramount that companies ensure self-service BI tools are deployed in a controlled environment.
Anyone approaching a BI investment should challenge their vendor to deliver the agility their business craves with self-service access, exploration and information sharing, coupled with the control and governance your IT department requires in order to make agile BI a reality. The days of 35mm film photography are over. Is your BI team ready to adopt the Instagram approach to reporting and analytics?