2011 brought tons of news and speculation about the rise of mobile BI, which has given way to actual deployments in 2012 (an estimated 22% of companies using BI this year plan to implement mobile BI in 2012). 2012 will bring news of the next wave: Collaborative BI, with an estimated 15% of BI applications to include collaborative aspects by 2013, according to Gartner. I expect that number to be even higher as companies see the value of collaborative BI throughout this year and knowledge workers start clamoring for greater access to information to improve their decision making.
I’ve pondered the impact of Collaborative BI before, but lately I’ve noticed that one aspect often left out of the conversation – open access to all BI content within an organization. Many analysts have been talking about various vendors’ Collaborative BI platforms and accepting their silo’d approach, but I believe the silo story isn’t healthy. Restricting content to one vendor’s BI reports and dashboards goes against everything that collaboration is about. To make the best decisions possible, employees require access to any and all data that can help them, regardless of whether it’s housed in arcplan or a competitor’s BI product, or even unstructured content like an e-mail or a document on an internal SharePoint portal.
Going further, user-contributed content has to be part of the “openness” mix. This means that IT has to loosen the grip on what is considered relevant BI content and allow users themselves to enrich the collaboration database with reports from the Web – like a Salesforce.com lead dashboard for example.
In our previous article on the topic of how to make your BI reports better in 2012, we presented 5 ways to take your reporting to the next level by making design a priority, enhancing system performance with in-memory capabilities, delivering reports directly to users, capturing comments that provide context, and using cloud data to provide users with new insights. There are about a million practical pieces of advice to improve BI reporting, but I’ve polled the experts at arcplan who have been designing and implementing reports for companies all over the world for nearly 20 years, and this is our top 10 list. Let’s get into items 6 through 10:
6) Include unstructured data. Uncovering unexpected insights is the crown jewel of data analysis, and many companies are not tapping into the data sources that can provide them with this opportunity. By collecting and analyzing social media data, for example, alongside the rest of your corporate data, you get an enhanced view of the people who purchase (or don’t purchase) your products and services. Social data can help you spot early trends that can drive product development, product delivery, and marketing messaging.
7) Go mobile. Gartner predicts that by 2013, 33% of BI functionality will be consumed via handheld devices. Executives and road warriors are becoming increasingly comfortable with receiving reports on their smartphones and tablet PCs and are pushing for data access when they need it, wherever they need it. The easiest to push to mobile first are your existing reports, slightly redesigned to incorporate large fonts and easy finger navigation to facilitate drill-down. Mobile reports are not just about viewing data – interaction needs to be taken into account.
8) Empower users through self-service.