arcplan’s Senior Vice President (and frequent author on this blog) Dwight deVera is featured on TDWI.org for his article, How to Future-Proof Your Dashboards. He covers how Responsive Design, HTML5, Self-Service and Collaboration are already beginning to influence BI dashboard design and why you need to get on board with these trends. Check out the article and let us know what you think!
How to Future-Proof Your Dashboards
Dashboards equal business intelligence (BI) to many people. They have been around for decades without substantial changes. Over time, we have refined the rules of dashboard design, deciding what makes dashboards most functional and efficient. Times are changing and dashboards must adapt to shifting user requirements. Mobility is encroaching on traditional dashboard usage and users are demanding self-service capabilities, less IT interference, and a greater say in what corporate data is useful and relevant. Future-proofing your dashboards is imperative if they are to continue delivering value.
Responsive Design + HTML5 = BI Anywhere
According to TechRepublic’s BYOD Business Strategy Survey, 62 percent of companies either already have Bring Your Own Device allowances in place or plan to by the end of 2013. With the increasing popularity of mobile devices in daily life, workers have become accustomed to switching between gadgets according to the task at hand — smartphones for calls and quick searches, tablets for Web browsing and e-mails on the go, and laptops for more time- and labor-intensive activities. However, switching devices and accessing BI apps is not always so effortless.
A new design concept is making it easier than ever to build and deploy BI apps that can be used on any device without the need for extra development…
Business intelligence is evolving in ways that improve efficiency, productivity, and the bottom line for companies of all sizes. Combined with major innovations like real-time data access and mobile technology, BI is truly driving the success of leading organizations. The Aberdeen Group’s recent report, Decisions on the Move: Mobile BI 2013, surveyed the state of mobile business intelligence and found that “leaders” enjoy benefits like a 2.3-times year-over-year improvement in sales revenue and customer retention, and a 70% improvement in operating profit over “followers.” The benefits of mobile BI are both practical and tangible, but some companies are still standing on the sidelines, not taking advantage of the mobility that their BI platform likely facilitates. So let’s address the misconceptions that keep some organizations lagging behind when it comes to mobile BI:
It can wait ’til I get back to the office…
The proliferation of mobile devices has opened the floodgates for an “always-connected” society. We can argue about whether or not that’s a good thing, but it is the state of business these days. Allowing yourself to think that business questions can be tackled once you’re back at the office is a mistake – one your competition may not be making. Mobile BI empowers your executives, field teams, off-site workers, and sales managers to be productive, attending to time-sensitive information and making impactful decisions no matter where they are. Certain decisions – or at the very least, status checks – can’t wait until these road warriors get back to their desk, especially when dealing with vendors and customers in different time zones. The work day isn’t confined to 9-to-5 if you’ve got coworkers, customers and vendors spread across the country, or if you’re global like arcplan. Leading organizations realize the value of mobile BI’s ability to give workers access to decision-relevant data day and night. I’d never suggest that you tether yourself to your corporate metrics 24/7, but for the times you really need that information away from the office, mobile BI is invaluable.
In my last post, I ruminated on the problems that plague business intelligence dashboards. Traditional dashboards simply haven’t evolved as quickly as modern businesses, where decisions are made by many levels of management and need to be informed by various areas of the business – finance, marketing, sales, operations and more. If your dashboard is confined to your department’s metrics alone, it’s doing you a disservice. Dashboards of the future will require cross-functional views of KPIs to really be effective. And they’ll embed more self-service options than ever. The good news is that future-proofing your dashboards is possible. Here’s how:
1) Make your dashboards searchable.
Key performance indicators are essential for monitoring business performance. Last time, I talked about how “KPI overload” – common in so many businesses I’ve worked with – can cloud business insight. However in some cases, having hundreds of KPIs may actually be necessary for understanding and managing your performance. If you need KPIs from many parts of the business in order to make good decisions, it can become a complex task to find the information you need. So consider making your dashboards search-enabled so that users can easily find the metrics they’re looking for. Searching is how users find information; “Google” is a verb for a reason. So why should your BI system be any different?
2) Make your dashboards personalized.
Dashboards serve as a point of reference for business leaders, many times per day or at least a few times per week. Either way, your dashboard should be one of the things you look at the most in a given week (besides your husband, wife, or kids of course). From a personalization perspective, there’s something we can learn from a social medial platform like Pinterest…
Along with our partner Limpida, we recently held the first event dedicated to arcplan users in France. arc|forum took place on March 21st in Paris at La Cantine, the city’s first collaborative workspace (“co-working space”) – a unique location for this one-of-a-kind event.
The event brought arcplan users together with technical and functional experts. Among the 40 participants were management and directors from Veolia Water, Siemens, Natixis, Diana Food, and Bank BNP Paribas, to name a few.
arc|forum’s agenda balanced customer presentations with knowledge exchange and workshops. It kicked off with a presentation from myself – I’m arcplan’s Director of Strategic Alliances, and I spoke about arcplan’s goals and objectives for the French market.
Next, our CEO Roland Hölscher (pictured right) gave insight into our next platform release (slated for September). He revealed that it will be centered on the concept of DORA: Develop Once, Run Anywhere – arcplan’s approach to business intelligence for all devices and form factors. It makes responsive design simple and easy, and allows our unified platform for reporting, dashboards, and self-service BI to be even more flexible and dynamic.
I am sitting on a train to Düsseldorf on my way back from Paris, where I presented an update of what we are doing at arcplan to a mixed audience of customers and prospects. Part of my presentation included the usual content of company and product development updates. The outlook included a preview of our next release, code named Xenon, in the context of what is happening in businesses these days. One of the key topics was the explosive appearance of mobile devices and the challenges this poses to organizations – different form factors and operating systems, security issues, and expectations from a user community that is educated by the private consumption of applications on these devices (bringing an expectation of usability to the business environment). Of course, I introduced our first-ever approach in the business intelligence world to solve the dilemma of catering to this ever-increasing diversity of different device types and form factors as DORA: Develop Once, Run Anywhere. This is accomplished by responsive design for business intelligence and analytics applications. The audience was clearly impressed as was our customer advisory board in a similar session last week.
However, this blog article is not about how to develop and deploy analytic content effectively in this new world; it’s about the business value BI solutions create.
This year we were positioned by Gartner in their annual Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms. Although the Gartner analysts expressed strong appreciation for our capabilities (and commented accordingly in the strengths and cautions section of the report), we are positioned at the lower end of the niche vendor section. We were told this is partially due to self-service analytics and data discovery playing a strong role in this year’s Quadrant as this represents advanced BI. Really?