What Do Business Users Really Want From BI?

Narinder Dhillon

When I joined SAP a couple of months ago, I was fascinated by the scale of the software options available to our customers. As the face of support of some of our analytics solutions, I started to wonder “What do business users really want from a business intelligence (BI) solution?”

Some will want a Google-like experience, some want automated reporting, some want the ability to play with their corporate data and then ask questions of the data to find new insights, and still others just want smarter Microsoft Excel without the multiple versions and manual errors.

The reality is, the answer will vary depending on the type of user. They might be a low-touch or a high-touch user, or somewhere in the middle. They might be an office worker using a laptop or a mobile user using an iPad or smartphone.

Four key BI needs

Vendors should provide business intelligence for whatever the end user requires. From the discussions I’ve had with customers and colleagues so far, BI needs seem to be broken down into four key areas:

  1. Corporate BI: While it’s nice to be able to give users the power to do whatever they want, organizations need to ensure corporate governance and ensure that BI looks great while also providing a single version of the truth. IT needs to deliver standard corporate content which is secure, automated, and meets corporate/legal standards for reporting. This includes corporate logos, color schemes, disclaimers, versions, and so on.
  1. Trusted BI: Users will use BI only if they trust the numbers and can act with confidence that they’re making the most informed decision based on trusted numbers. If they find discrepancies in the numbers, they’ll question where the numbers came from, or worse, they won’t use the tool again.
  1. Agile BI: Whilst most of the standard BI content needs to be created to a corporate standard, there also needs to be the ability for users to create new views of data and to almost prototype new visualizations which contain corporate as well as personal or external data. For example, most people in marketing will always look at internal and external views to understand customer behaviors and look for new niches and opportunities.
  1. Mobile BI: Mobile BI is a must for modern-day mobile workers. They need the same information on the go to make informed decisions. Which branch has the highest sales figures? Which asset needs to be maintained? Which shares should I buy today? I recently bumped into a Gartner analyst at a Christmas party, and he told me that wearables and the Internet of Things is where the smart money is going. Some software vendors are building proofs of concept for smartwatches and smart glasses!

Business intelligence needs to be natural for the user, just like using Microsoft Office. Ease of use is the key to successful BI adoption. Indeed, BI adoption is one of the largest barriers for organizations implementing a successful BI platform.

Having all of the above delivered on a scalable, trusted flexible platform can help…what do you think?

To learn more about mobile analytics, read the other blogs in our mobile series.


Narinder Dhillon

About Narinder Dhillon

Narinder Dhillon is a Customer Engagement Executive (CEE) at SAP. He has overall responsibility for the daily management of assigned Cloud customer accounts, including account management strategies as well as engagement and expansion plans.  The focus of this role is twofold, to maximize the value that customers and SAP receive through adoption and use of the SAP Network, and to ensure that the customers deploy and utilize their entitled subscription software.  He is passionate about working with customers to achieve their goals, and has 15 + years of experience in customer engagement roles, in software and subscription based companies.