Friday, August 29, 2008

It Just Has to Work

imageHave you ever had the experience where you are hunting within your favourite BI portal for how to do such a simple thing like sending a link to a report to your business analyst? Have you ever wanted to scream at your monitor that "It shouldn't be this hard!!!"?

Welcome to the lack of attention to design that blights many BI portal implementations!

If we take a lesson from Google, we see the opportunity to focus on core functionality and to not over-engineer our BI implementations. The one frustrating thing I noticed when I started using Google's online tools was that I couldn't find out what the application was capable of without the standard menu bar we are used to in traditional desktop applications. Now I am a died in the wool IT geek, so I am definitely the exception in this case. Most users just want to do the basics and find all the options overwhelming.

Another point on designing for simplicity is that over time I found the Google suite does have advanced functionality. The key is that I didn't have the option to launch the piece of functionality until I needed it. The application was aware of my context, and showed me what I needed when I needed it. Thankfully we are starting to see more attention to design in software, Microsoft has started the quest for a simpler design with the ribbon bar in Office 2007.

This applies to BI in 2 ways, first the design from the vendor, and then the design of your information architecture. We need to demand from our vendors that they pay close attention to their user interface design, to understand how users interact with the software. and customize the interface accordingly. To continue the widespread adoption of BI information in the enterprise, it is critical that we design for the basic user, but still provide the functionality for the power user. When we place our own organization's information architecture on top of our BI platforms we need to ensure we continue this attention to design, so that we can make the information easier and more intuitively to navigate.

Keep it as simple as possible, and your key measures for use of your BI portal will leap off the chart!


P.S. We all have stats on our BI portal usage don't we? ;)

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This is a personal weblog, and does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer.