It is time that we, in the business intelligence industry, face reality. Data discovery has very little future. The idea that we give users lots of data and they figure out what do to with it, has (and will always have) limited success. It is not because the dashboarding tools are not good, and that we lack analytical tools, or new types of charts. It is because for most potentials users, using them is about the same as learning Chinese (or Hungarian, or Hebrew – pick the language furthest from you).
Don’t get me wrong – understanding the reality of your business through analyzing your data can have critical effects for your entire business operation and success. This has been proven many times. But, to achieve that, we need a “translator” who can understand what is going on and guide the users how with reading that data. We call them analysts or data scientists (like the maesters in Game of Thrones). But when we attempt to give tools to the end users – we ultimately fail.
This is because we are arriving at the issue from the wrong side.
The attempt to entice users by giving them more and more – more data, more tools, more devices – is not helpful. This is because this is not what the users want.
The users want Insights – we give them data.
The users want to know what to do – we tell them what happened.
The users want to be more successful in their business – we tell them to spend more money and hire more people.
But other industries have already moved passed this issue as they found the way out.
Let’s take the travel industry as an example. You are travelling to a totally new city (Tokyo for example – since I am going there soon). In the past, I had to first read lots of books to understand what I am going to do there, then hire an expert consultant to make the flight arrangements. This expert would also find the hotel for me, and probably plan a schedule for the trip. And if for some reason I would want to leave Tokyo to go somewhere (I hear Nikko is really nice) I would take a car with a driver, since I would have never found the way there.
Today the situation is very different – I go to a web site (there are many good ones) – that handles everything – it give me the best flights, best hotels, recommended itineraries, locations etc. Yesterday they even reminded me to book the transfer from the airport to the hotel, which I never thought about.
And when taking the car to visit Nikko – Waze or Google maps will let me know exactly how to get there.
The moral the story is – if you give users what they need to achieve their goals – they will succeed. If you just give data to the users – they will need to call in the experts in order to do or get anything useful out of it.
So, we in the business intelligence industry should stop throwing data at the users – they simply don’t get it (unless they are experts). Instead we should focus our aim on telling them what they need to know. Even when they don’t ask the right question…
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Product Manager @ Panorama Software