Five Things You Need to Know About Your Users BEFORE You Deploy BI – Part 3 – The Final Two Questions

Kevin R. Quinn's picture
 By | februari 28, 2011
februari 28, 2011

This is an example of a completed form that asks the five questions highlighted in the previous 3 posts.

What we learned about the first three questions in my previous posts was a very simple rule of thumb regarding Business Intelligence – Most people don’t really want a “BI Tool”.  What they really want is fast and easy access to information. They just think that a BI tool is the only way to get it. We also learned that users ask different types of questions that are often better served by different types of business intelligence tools.

Here are the final two questions you will need to ask to help you plan your BI deployment.

How often are users out of the office?

Where and when people need BI will affect your means of deployment. People in the office can use desktop email and browsers, but “mobile” workers need to access information from cell phones, tablet computers (i.e. iPad), or laptops.   Sometimes they’ll need to use information in a disconnected fashion, since they may not have a connection on a plane or train, or as they are waiting in a lobby for their next meeting.

How timely must the data be?

Your BI deployment will be influenced by the required data latency. There are three levels of latency:

Scheduled updatemeans information doesn’t have to be up-to-the-minute. The data source could be refreshed on a scheduled basis (i.e. daily or hourly).Or, data can be near real-time, updated incrementally within minutes of a transaction. Most BI deployments work well with some form of a scheduled update.

On-demandmeans that users require direct access to operational data, or information contained in a near real-time warehouse.While this doesn’t affect the deployment itself, it is uncommon for BI tools to allow access to operational systems, because the data is rarely stored in a form conducive to ad hoc querying. However, dashboards, reports, and guided ad hoc reports are highly effective deployment methods when on-demand access is required.

Finally, true real-time data is only needed to support monitoring of frontline operations. The information must be updated as a business event occurs – even it is captured in a database. Only dashboards and reports enable dynamic displays of information as events happen. Other tools require a user to initiate information retrieval.  So, there is always a delay, no matter how small, between the event and data access.

The next time you’re responsible for a BI deployment, use these five questions to better understand what is really required. For most of your users, it is probably NOT a traditional ad hoc query tool.

1.    What is the technical skill level of the user(s)?

2.    How much time can they spend accessing and analyzing information?

3.    What types of questions will users ask?

4.    How often are users out of the office?

5.    How timely must the data be?

Five Things You Need to Know About Your Users BEFORE You Deploy BI – Part 3 – The final two questions.

What we learned about the first three questions in my previous posts was a very simple rule of thumb regarding Business Intelligence – Most people don’t really want a “BI Tool”.  What they really want is fast and easy access to information. They just think that a BI tool is the only way to get it. We also learned that users ask different types of questions that are often better served by different types of business intelligence tools.

Here are the final two questions you will need to ask to help you plan your BI deployment.

How often are users out of the office?

Where and when people need BI will affect your means of deployment. People in the office can use desktop email and browsers, but “mobile” workers need to access information from cell phones, tablet computers (i.e. iPad), or laptops.   Sometimes they’ll need to use information in a disconnected fashion, since they may not have a connection on a plane or train, or as they are waiting in a lobby for their next meeting.

How timely must the data be?

Your BI deployment will be influenced by the required data latency. There are three levels of latency:

Scheduled updatemeans information doesn’t have to be up-to-the-minute. The data source could be refreshed on a scheduled basis (i.e. daily or hourly).Or, data can be near real-time, updated incrementally within minutes of a transaction. Most BI deployments work well with some form of a scheduled update.

On-demandmeans that users require direct access to operational data, or information contained in a near real-time warehouse.While this doesn’t affect the deployment itself, it is uncommon for BI tools to allow access to operational systems, because the data is rarely stored in a form conducive to ad hoc querying. However, dashboards, reports, and guided ad hoc reports are highly effective deployment methods when on-demand access is required.

Finally, true real-time data is only needed to support monitoring of frontline operations. The information must be updated as a business event occurs – even it is captured in a database. Only dashboards and reports enable dynamic displays of information as events happen. Other tools require a user to initiate information retrieval.  So, there is always a delay, no matter how small, between the event and data access.

The next time you’re responsible for a BI deployment, use these five questions to better understand what is really required. For most of your users, it is probably NOT a traditional ad hoc query tool.

1.    What is the technical skill level of the user(s)?

2.    How much time can they spend accessing and analyzing information?

3.    What types of questions will users ask?

4.    How often are users out of the office?

5.    How timely must the data be?