Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Kindle effect in BI

With the popularity of eBooks in multiple formats, offered by multiple vendors, we find ourselves in a world where libraries are literally becoming obsolete. When you can access and read any book that has been published from your tablet device, there is no reason to ever open a paper book again, is there? As this blogger discovered, sometimes either newer books or older books (whose rights are still retained by the authors) are not available in digital format yet. If you browse through the bookseller s review section, you will find that many times when a new book is released and there is no “eBook” version, people will rate the item poorly, independently of how good the book might or not be. While this is heavily criticized by many of the book loyal followers, I found it true that it disrupts the reading experience.
In business, as in our professional lives, it is amazing to notice that what we take for granted today did not even exist a few years back, but once the new technology is introduced it becomes permanent part of our lives to the point that we no longer enjoy the experience of flipping pages in a book and start complaining about the dead weight of paper and its effects in the environment. We can rationalize it anyway we want, but when you really like look at it is all about convenience, what do we get for the effort we put in. As an international road warrior it becomes a matter of practical survival, how many 800 pages books can you carry on a flight from Frankfurt to Bangalore and still make it practical to move all that weight around?
I found out that the Business Intelligence world behaves in a very similar fashion; the user experience often dictates how much value the business users derive out of the information. The more intuitive and responsive the user interface becomes the more that I find people using their reports and analytical applications as part of their daily routine. Think about it, how many reports can a manager print and still find the relevant data points that he/she needs to make a business decision? In fact, the kindle effect is becoming so prevalent in BI that many Fortune 500 organizations have invested heavily in mobile applications that enable their mangers real time access to the information through the blackberries, iPhones, iPads and other smart devices. The key, again, becomes simplicity and speed to analyze all the organizational information you need in a few seconds. However, If you company is thinking about implementing similar functionality, just be careful, make sure that once you embark in the journey you travel all the way through the most remote destination (or useful piece of data in the organization). Remember there is nothing more frustrating that having a mobile platform that cannot be used to analyze the latest release of the data, it will just irritate your users, like a publisher with a no kindle version.

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