Why good Business Intelligence is all about the UX

Oct 29, 2020

If you’re a key decision-maker for your business, you’ll recognise the ‘If Only’ Syndrome of business intelligence.

If only there was a quicker way to find the data I need… If only I could access my BI reports 24/7… If only I could see this BI dashboard on my mobile, rather than having to fire up my laptop… If only these BI data sets were more intuitive.

It’s all about the UX.

All symptoms of one problem: your Business Intelligence (BI) solution’s ‘User Experience’ (UX), isn’t quite up to scratch. But the days of wishful thinking are over. In the 2020s, your organisation’s Business Intelligence can – and really should – be a powerful, yet user-friendly tool in helping you make informed business decisions.

What’s the harm of a bad UX?

Is it really worth investing in the User Experience of a your Business Intelligence solution? Experts at HAYNE reply with a resounding yes!

Chris Waite, Business Intelligence Lead at HAYNE Solutions says: “While many business leaders recognise that poor BI UX slows down decision making, the more damaging knock-on effects are consistently under-estimated. As a result, UX is not given the time and thought that it deserves.

It’s often assumed that if a system is built to serve a certain purpose, it will be used as intended. Users, they hope, will learn, and eventually conform. But in reality, that’s just not the case! If a user finds a solution to be slow, awkward or restrictive, they’ll simply opt-out, use it incorrectly, or create ‘work-arounds’. You have to remember; a system is only as effective as the people using it. You have to make it easy for them with a killer UX!”

What does your user really need?

When thinking about UX, it’s important to remember; what makes for a good experience for one user, might not be effective in supporting another. For example, being able to create a report in two simple clicks might be great for one team, whilst another team could find it restrictive; preventing them from running a complex data query, and rendering it useless for its intended purpose.

If you develop your BI UX in isolation, with one team at the helm, this places a major risk on your investment. The BI project which took months to put to the board and get across the line, could fail to harness the true BI potential in your business.

The truth is, it takes time and planning to scope out a UX that serves your whole business, its people, and your unique BI needs. But it’s worth it. Getting it right can make the difference between losing or gaining precious market share and profit.

The 10 UX capabilities your BI should offer

  1. Speed
    Being able to access accurate data quickly, is key. By having a dedicated BI solution, you won’t have to rely on external sources to deliver reports.

  2. A common interface
    A single, well designed, interface that’s common to all users across the business will increase understanding of what a system can do, and how it works. This shared knowledge can increase usage, reduce a siloed working mentality, and deliver better, faster results.

  3. A strong ‘help’ function
    Support tools should be quick and easy to access and offer support that’s directly related to the functionality the user is interacting with / their current issue.

  4. Web-based
    BI should be easy, intuitive, and accessible from anywhere, at any time. To facilitate this, all aspects of the tool from data modelling, reporting, analytics, predictive analytics and administration, should be web-based. Any aspects which require the installation of client-side applications are restrictive and impose an unacceptable administrative overhead.

  5. Mobile-friendly
    The ability to access data whilst on or off-line is desirable, helping to give your team even more flexibility to access timely reports and data. For this, an interface needs to be responsive to multiple screen sizes and have an intuitive touch interface. You can further improve the experience by the inclusion of gestures and animation.

  6. Enhanced search capability
    An enhanced search facility enables access to structured and unstructured information using a standard search interface. It also enables the searching of metadata and the output of saved reports which in turn helps the user to quickly identify the analysis options that are available to them. The inclusion of artificial intelligence to provide context-sensitive support and guidance can also be hugely beneficial.

  7. Security controls
    Your BI solution must be able to manage relevant security requirements for each user group. Customising security levels and capabilities per user or user group will make managing the solution easier and safer. Each user will only access what is relevant to them, cutting out the extra noise which may interfere with efficiency. To support compliance audit or security breach investigation, all user actions and access to data should be recorded in an audit trail.

  8. Configurable dashboards
    The ability to configure dashboards per user or user groups can help to maximise an individual’s usage of a BI tool. Being able to view your specific data will help you to find information quickly and easily, so you spend less time searching, and more time analysing. Dashboards should be flexible; requiring only slight modifications to deliver answers and reports in real-time. To enable data exploration this should include the ability to segment and create different views of the same information, with ‘drill to detail’ capability to reinforce understanding.

  9. UI
    The user interface should be customisable to meet corporate styles, themes and accessibility requirements. Creating a user-friendly UI is paramount to maximising usage.

  10. Scalability
    The platform must be able to scale up and deliver optimal performance that matches the growth of the data volume and number of users. Large enterprises must consider the scale-out option of a self-service BI.

Introducing IBM Cognos Analytics

Leading Financial Performance Management & Business Intelligence Consultancy HAYNE, recommends IBM Cognos Analytics, which:

  • has web-based functionality that supports the full life cycle of data preparation through to report and dashboard deployment.
  • is housed on a single portal providing access to all aspects of the development life cycle, including administration.
  • provides all users, whatever the action being undertaken, with one consistent environment.
  • offers an interface that’s developed using the open source Carbon Design System which is modular, flexible, and accessible.
  • has a configurable user-environment and security-controlled areas so a user is only shown information that they should have access to.
  • has content indexing that supports an enhanced search facility and can be shared with an external content repository to support global business content searches.
  • can work via a mobile application for IOS and Android allowing users to view targeted visualisations, definitions, notification of key KPIs, and ask questions using natural language and voice commands.

Want to explore more? We’re here to help.

HAYNE professionals know that Business Intelligence software is only as effective as its user, and that user effectiveness is inextricably linked to an effective UX.

That’s why it’s imperative that from the very beginning of any BI project, you have a wide scope that takes into account the needs of the whole business, the individual, the various data sources, and the unique strategic BI requirements of the organisation. And it doesn’t stop there. It’s a continual process of testing, research and testing again.

Chris says: “Business Intelligence can be a daunting area to delve into, but HAYNE is here to de-bunk, demystify and show you how tech can help you harness the true potential of your organisation’s BI. The best BI software tools are built on a deep understanding of the three key elements, People, Process and Technology. It’s something we can take you through step by step, with our 360 approach to designing and implementing effective Business Intelligence software solutions.”

What next?

Contact HAYNE today to find out more. Alternatively, or watch our on-demand webinar ‘TEN ways to maximise your Business Intelligence investment‘, where we cover more areas that should be leveraged in your existing solution or carefully considered when purchasing Business Intelligence software, such as IBM Cognos Analytics.

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