by Iver van de Zand, Guest Blogger
Being part of one of the leading software companies is great and brings advantages and (sometimes) disadvantages. A key element I like so much in my work is that with my company I can be part of large—or even huge—scaled analytics journeys with customers and BI competence centers who need to serve thousands and thousands of users. In today’s digital economy, they all struggle similar challenges. Let us focus on the business users and reflect their biggest requirements for analytics, and how this often brings us to the self-service dilemma.
Enterprise End Users Require at Least:
- Self-service capabilities: Business users require a great deal of autonomy in their analytics work. They want to easily create, deploy and share their business analytics content themselves without being too reliant on their ICT or BI Competence Centers. The data analysts among them even require access to non-corporate data in order to blend this with the corporate data and search for new insights.
- Agility and Flexibility: It’s almost become a magical word, ‘agility’ is what I hear every user talking about. Users nowadays require full-flavor flexibility when using analytics. It means easy accessible on any device, the ability to change graph types on the fly. It also means being able to swap measures and attributes at any place in the analytics dashboard, storyboard, or report. Users also require drill-anywhere capabilities and a definite must-have is to drill to the transactional level if applicable. The agility requirements for tooling are based on what the business decision makers’ need to have towards process or market fluctuations and their customer needs
- Online or real-time information, yet still highly performant. As you already expected, all the users I met want the data to be accessible in real-time and—ideally—also online. I understand that need; driven by this agility, users absolutely need to have the latest data to respond to any fluctuation in process or market.
- Consistency in metrics and metadata: Though this should be a no-brainer, users frequently mention that they’ve had negative experiences in the past with consistency in metrics and metadata. In any type of business analytics applications (reports, storyboard, workspaces or dashboards) they expect consistency in metrics, the use of definitions, hierarchies, prompts variables or other metadata-related content. End of the line!
- Governed: Oh yes, end users do have concerns about governance. Though everybody always wants to have access to anything, deep in their hearts they all understand authorizations and security are top notch subjects and need to be treated with ultimate care. Another one here is SSO (Single Sign On)—would you like to logon and enter your credentials 75 times per day? Nah, don’t think so, so SSO is a must-have.
- Visually appealing: Basically, I’m talking about the user experience here. Since analytics are widely spread—often also to my customer’s customers—they need to be visually appealing to attract the attention. This element of visually-appealing analytics is more complex than you might think. The visualizations need to have the creativity, effect, and structure to exactly communicate the message that “needs to be communicated.”(This subject is worthy of a few articles already.)
The Self-Service Dilemma – SAP BusinessObjects Lumira or SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio?
So, here we are with the large enterprise using SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence suite and users are looking for self-service and agility. Typically now the self-service dilemma starts: users, architects, and IT leaders are all very well informed these days, and consider SAP BusinessObjects Lumira as the ultimate tool to provide for every end user.
And they have a point, considering end users get full flexibility and self-service capabilities while the learning curve is extremely low. It brings powerful visualization capabilities and people can easily blend their data with other – i.e. external – data. (See a detailed component selection tool.)
But I tend to challenge their considerations, especially if SAP Business Warehouse and/or SAP HANA are involved. They forget about SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio for enterprise dash boarding, and I don’t know why. Apparently, they still believe SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio is a developer tool and that is permanently incorrect.
In a lot of cases, SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio can cover all the end-user needs mentioned above, and it does this in a remarkably powerful way. SAP BusinessObjects Lumira really comes in for data analysts. It is a matter of clearly choosing the best-suited BI component to sort out the self-service dilemma enterprises might have.
I’ll go into detail on how to choose in my blog post next week. Stay tuned!