BI ‘depends on design’

Shadan BI

Photo credit Arabian Computer News

The adoption of business intelligence tools is relatively low, and this is, in large part, down to the fact that most of the tools offer a poor user experience, according to Shadan Malik, president and CEO of iDashboards.

Speaking to Arabian Computer News at the iDashboards International Conference in Dubai last month, Malik said that the fact that so many business users are rejecting business intelligence is regrettable, because many of the users could glean a lot of benefits from the insight that tools provide.

“If you do some research on the adoption of business intelligence, it’s sadly quite low. You would see some numbers between 25% and 30%. That means 70% of business users are rejecting business intelligence, which is unfortunate because there is a lot of insight that they need to better do their jobs and to make better decisions,” he said.

“But they’re not getting that because they’re getting overwhelmed that they’re not engaged enough with the user interface.”

Malik said that, for business users to get the most out of their information, they need a better, more user-friendly presentation of data. He said that dashboards do this effectively, and that they have been very well embraced by most territories as an effective tool to communicate data. That said, he also stressed that the dashboards should be well designed, providing the smartphone as an example of the merits of good design.

“Where I think we are offering a differentiating software, a differentiating message, is making it user-friendly and really a delightful experience, much like, for example, Apple did with the iPhone and iPad. Even a kid can learn it quickly and would love to play with it. It’s all about design and ease of use. And that’s where we want to differentiate, rather than just offering another set of charts and numbers and tables and graphs,” he said.

Indeed, Malik added that vendors of business intelligence tools should be using the smartphone as a model in how they design their products.

“If you compare, for example, the adoption of business intelligence dashboards with the adoption of smartphones, you’ll see a dramatic difference. Why is that? Why have people adapted to smartphones like crazy? I think the answer is rather simple: Apple brought very cool design elements and ease of use,” he said.
However, Malik also pointed out that good design is meaningless without proper functionality. Again referring to smartphones, he said that the foundation of the smartphone is that it’s a working phone. Likewise, with business intelligence tools, he said that dashboards had to feature credible data, and to be able to connect to various databases and applications.

“For example, in iDashboards, you can connect to any relational database you might have heard of-names like Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, and of course Excel. We connect to all of them, and to other kinds of applications as well,” he said.

“And there are custom APIs, and they can connect to unstructured data. Obviously unstructured data comes in many flavours, so I can’t say broadly that we connect to every type of unstructured data, but if there are log files and things, we can put some structure around the unstructured data.”

iDashboards’ products are certainty gaining traction in the Middle East. According to Malik, the company saw 51% growth in region for 2015.

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