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Guest view: Understanding business users' real BI needs

JY Pook, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Tableau Software | Oct. 23, 2014
It's time to take a firm look at business intelligence from the perspective of it being a business enhancement tool. Here's what to do.

In contrast, today's operational business intelligence solutions improve on this by better presenting and visualising data. The new solutions need to serve their purpose by having dashboards that display a dense array of information in a small amount of space in a manner that communicates clearly and immediately.

This requires design that taps into and leverages the power of visual perception and the human brain to sense and process several chunks of information rapidly. Humans interpret visuals about 60,000 times faster than text. As such, being able to visually see the data instead of rows of text will not only aid in reducing the time taken to understand it, it will also help users to discover their own insights.

3. Analyse, not just report
Today's business intelligence solutions have to allow users to do more than discovering insights and building reports. Today's solutions need to be flexible enough to allow users to query, summarise, cross-tab, hypothesise, visualise and report on-the-fly depending on where the data analysis leads them. This allows users to move beyond reporting what they see and ask the next question.

4. Any data, any time
Companies need to be aware that business users will have different analytical needs. While most of the data required for analysis may be stored in servers, some users may need to analyse data on the go or from his or her own desktop computer.

Next generation business intelligence solutions should be able to connect to and read data from the usual data warehouses, such as OLAP, ROLAP or HOLAP. They should also be able to utilise desktop data like text and Excel files, without having to reformat.

5. Self-service business intelligence
As mentioned, data analytics requirements can vary for each business user. With traditional business intelligence, users often submit requests for variation of reports to IT based on individual requirements, and this can result in an IT bottle neck.

Today's operational business intelligence solutions allow for self-service data analytics. This means that users can define their new views and reports. Not only will this allow users to customise their reports and free up IT, it also allows for users to instantly alter their analysis based on any new requirements that they might encounter.

6. Collaborate and educate
It is common for business intelligence solutions to come with the capability to automatically distribute reports within the organisation. Today's business intelligence solutions need to able to not only design and set up the report or view themselves but also be able to easily configure which recipients can see which views of which underlying data. Then they need to be able to publish them where recipients (with the proper permissions) can access them.


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