2011 is rapidly winding down, and we're talking to a lot of customers who are currently planning their BI initiatives for 2012. The New Year brings resolutions, personal and professional, so we've taken stock of what we're hearing and put together this list of our recommendations for resolutions your company should consider to optimize your BI in 2012. Are we right? What others are on your schedule for next year?
Resolution 1: Information Access for Everyone
BI for the masses - it's a thought some think is far off in the distance, but actually, many of our customers are making the move in 2012. Since decisions are being made by everyone from CEOs to line-level employees, companies need to consider opening information access up beyond a small group of power-users. Employees who can't write reports can still analyze them and make use of the data to make better decisions. Take stock of your existing BI systems in 2012 and determine if removing restrictions would benefit your company's performance.
Resolution 2: Collaboration Tools - the Key to Success
How do employees determine what BI reports are useful and what reports are garbage? How do they make enhancement requests for reports and dashboards, provide feedback to report authors, or share & annotate reports? Collaborative BI solutions not only offer an easy entry-point into BI for the casual user/knowledge worker (since they make it easy for users to search for relevant information), but they also keep statistics about the most- and least-used reports. Solutions like our own arcplan Engage allow users to rate and comment on reports, so their feedback becomes an essential part of the BI process. Collaboration, when it comes to BI, is about adding value to existing information and using it to your company's advantage.
Resolution 3: Form Follows Function
The design maxim "form follows function" is never more true than in software development. Since many enterprise BI deployments are customized, there are a lot of possible options when it comes to how a BI dashboard or report can look. Ask users how they're going to use these items and design a user-friendly application they'll actually want to use. We've seen so many BI systems where the IT requirements were clearly the primary focus and the GUI was the last priority. The adoption rate of your BI system is sure to rise once the frontend is considered as important as the backend.
Resolution 4: Mobilize BI - With a Plan
2011 brought us even more record-breaking iPad, iPhone, and Android phone sales, and we're all growing increasingly comfortable with mobile applications. Mobile BI seems to be on everyone's wish list according to surveys throughout the year (like Dresner Advisory Services' October 2011 Mobile BI study, where 68% of respondents said they see mobile BI as either "critical" or "very important" to their business). The key to mobile BI is to have a clear strategy in place. Diving in and expecting a great outcome is asking for failure. We recommend that you take some time to think about which user groups will benefit from mobile reports, how you should present existing reports and dashboards in a compact and easily digestible format for mobile devices, and how you can keep your data safe from third parties while users are on the go.
I can't name a single company that has invested in BI and isn't wanting to utilize their current systems better. These resolutions are a first step in making optimized BI a reality in 2012.