In its research on the new BI tools and how power users are reshaping the dimensions of fast and up-to-date reporting in today’s business environment, Aberdeen Research drew some key conclusions that we will briefly encapsulate here:
- First, business users (becoming power users over time) using the newer BI tools are more likely than most to “have the ability to customize the BI environment to suit their own particular needs.” As they point out, this tailoring opens a broad array of possibilities for presenting information in very precise ways, including (or excluding) data on dashboards, for example, to amplify certain key performance indicators. Configured wisely, managers are more likely to have the information they need at their fingertips.
- Second, these managers are more likely to have powerful “drill-down” capabilities enabling them to see the details underlying their data. This is a key step beyond simple “managed reporting” that builds towards a more interactive and exploratory style of BI.
- Third, while drill-down is enlightening, it is also inherently limited. Sometimes, you can only follow pre-defined paths to your data (though we know of software where this is simply not true). Thus, power users trained in visual and interactive BI tools are often able to go more off-road in their explorations, gaining greater latitude in their ability to analyze data and produce better action conclusions.
In the end, three takeaways come from our BI analysis:
- Shrinking decision windows today challenge IT to deliver –quickly – even as business and data volumes grow. Given this volume growth, IT is hard pressed to keep up. Instead, better BI tools put into the hands of power-user managers can provide a better means of keeping up.
- Visual and interactive BI solutions have strong appeal for business managers being squeezed by this shrinking window. Organizations are finding this a better way to deliver BI, and it helps relegate IT to more of a support role, as opposed to the traditional managed-reporting creators.
- Visual and interactive BI solutions increase the ability to meet the shrinking window. According to research byAberdeen, just 17% of firms that rely solely on traditional reporting are “always able to provide business managers with the information they need” versus 44% of those that use just the newer interactive tools. That figure rises to 50% for firms using both methods.
Ultimately, the newer approach heralded by the newer BI tools and their inclusion in many of the newer ERP systems takes responsibility for understanding and discovering relationships, patterns and trends within a firm’s data out of the hands of IT, who are often challenged to understand what to look for in the first place, and places it into the hands of experienced business managers, where it’s likely to do infinitely more good. This trend can only continue.