Why is it that despite beautiful visualizations, better performance and lower cost, BI still might as well stand for Business Incoherence? The KPIs, metrics and charts that were supposed to liberate the average business user have ended right back up in the back office with the business analysts. According to research by BI tools expert Cindi Howson, only 18 percent of employees ever adopt BI tools, a sorry number considering BI’s transformative potential.
Like neon clothing and the keytar, the origin of the problem is in the 1980s. It’s worth considering how far we’ve come with BI to date. We’re currently in the third iteration of BI, which we like to call BI 3.0. To back-date:
- BI 1.0, established in the 1980s, was when giants ruled the enterprise—large, pricey, high-maintenance systems that spat out periodic dot-matrix reports comprehensible only to a select portion of the company’s population. Such systems handcuffed IT to lengthy and elaborate contracts for years at a time.
- BI 2.0, circa 2007-2012. This was when BI systems slimmed down and went to the disco, with brightly colored dashboards, SaaS infrastructure that was almost plug-and-play; easier, cheaper maintenance, and a promise of user friendliness. Caught up in the hype, companies rushed to stick shiny new BI systems under the hood. The problem was that, like screaming Justin Bieber fans, the dashboards proliferated so much that users ignored them in order to avoid assaulting their senses.
- Enter BI 3.0, the bridge between the dashboard and the everyday user. After the hype of BI 2.0, leaders are scrutinizing their investments for real ROI. The saner, more mature cousin of BI 2.0, Version Three pares down the data overload into something that each user can understand—and wants to know.
The same way that LinkedIn alerts you of updates within your network, rather than forcing you to read each of your connections’ profiles individually, BI 3.0 is smart enough to send you only the information you need to know. Your alerts will only cover the dashboards you care about. If you’re an operations executive, BI 3.0 might alert you that your main vendor is 15 days slower to deliver this month than in the entire past year. If you’re a VP of Sales, you might hear about the outside rep who is far surpassing her historic activity, prompting you to send accolades.
Never again will you have to siphon through irrelevant data to find out exactly what you need to know. This is the promise of BI 3.0, and we’re here to deliver it.
What level of engagement do you have with BI tools in your organization?