Data Analytics Tools Need Consumer-Driven Simplicity

Name a consumer technology from the past 10 years you can’t live without. Maybe it’s your smartphone. Your Fitbit or other wearable. Or your social media feed.

Each is a technical marvel. Get an alert with the score the second the game ends. Study your sleep patterns. Share a video with anybody in the world.

What makes these consumer products so popular is how user friendly they are. They’re so easy to pick up that a user manual is barely needed.

As we shared in our Top 9 Trends in Business Intelligence and Analytics for 2016, consumer-driven technology is making its way to the enterprise. According to Gartner, “Consumerization is not a strategy or something to be ‘adopted.’ Consumerization can be embraced and it must be dealt with, but it cannot be stopped.”

In an IDG Enterprises survey, IT professionals listed several benefits with adopting consumer technology:

User productivity66%
Process efficiency/collaboration63%
Business agility61%
Access to critical business information60%
User satisfaction69%

You could say it started with smartphones. With 64% of the US population now owning a smartphone, employees truly have become mobile. Beyond just email, companies now deploy apps for employees to enter vacation requests or file expenses. Sales teams deliver presentations to prospects and clients using their LTE iPads.

Wearables are following a similar path. What was originally designed for health monitoring is now used in the workplace for time reporting, hands-free tasks, and more.

And finally, social media started off as an easy way to connect with loved ones. Today, the majority of those on Facebook and Twitter use social media as a source of news events. Seeing the power of social media, companies now deploy platforms such as Jive and Yammer for employees to collaborate and learn from each other.

If these tools weren’t simple to use, there wouldn’t be such enthusiastic adoption.

We believe that same evolution has to date eluded the business intelligence and analytics world.

For most companies, “state-of-the-art” data analytics means having technical specialists create dashboards that try to anticipate business user questions. But the truth is, they can only anticipate some. And each day the business changes, generating new questions. These questions then require more technical help to create new reports, which may take weeks to produce. That’s an eternity in today’s competitive environment.

We believe non-technical business users should be able to visualize corporate data with a user experience that doesn’t require training, an understanding of data models, or even the data’s location. We believe they should be able to get answers to their questions without waiting.

The best consumer technology empowers its users by being easy to use and fast. And we believe business users should expect nothing less from their business intelligence and analytics tool.

With all of the consumer-driven advances now making their way into BI, this should be a watershed year for arming business users with data-driven analytics.

At AnswerRocket, we’ve been inspired by the simplicity of consumer technologies like Google search and Siri. By combining a user-friendly interface with powerful enterprise technology, AnswerRocket brings ease and speed to data-driven business users.

Chris CC BY

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