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You may wonder why another type of BI? We already have ad hoc reporting, data discovery, and self-service BI. Each one of these types has emerged with the promise to make BI more relevant and accessible to the decision makers. And yet decision makers are unhappy with the results. They still find the access to information and insight time consuming and difficult.

You may wonder why? Let us take a different perspective – a consumer focused view of BI. All these methods are DIY BI. While some consumers appreciate DIY, most prefer ready made products. To use an analogy, the German magazine Burda Style was a big hit when most women could not afford to buy good clothing and preferred to sew their own fashionable outfits. But its popularity faded away when ready-to-wear fashion took off. DIY trends are in most cases transient, i.e., they are popular out of necessity. If a cheap ready-to-use product is available, most consumer would prefer the ready-made product to DIY. The equivalent of a ready-to-use product in BI is the data product. This is a single document that allows the information consumers to answer all questions that are relevant to them in order to make a particular decision. That means taking data and turning it into tailored product targeted to particular decision makers. This is the same approach as all product companies take to meet the needs of various consumer segments.

A tailored BI data product has the user and the decision situation in mind. What questions does the consumers have; what insights they may want, what type of decisions they will likely make. Decision makers have bounded rationality – a term coined to describe the situation when arriving at a satisfactory decision is better than seeking optimal decision. Bounded rationality exists because decision makers have limited time and limited information to make a choice. The decision maker is not a data analyst nor a data scientist whose job is to continuously optimize. The decision makers’ primary task is to act in a timely manner based on the available information. The analytical activity they perform is different from that of the analyst or the data scientists. Decision makers want quick access to information to which they attach contextual knowledge to arrive at the right decision.

What are the implications for the BI data product design? Imagine a situation when we give the decision maker an Excel sheet with preformatted tables. If we provide all tables and graphs necessary for making all comparisons, the sheet will be too big, and the decision maker will have to navigate it and will be frustrated by the information overload. If we provide less prepared comparative tables, the decision maker will have to create their own – a DIY activity that distracts them from the contextual analysis. The same is true about self-service and ad hoc BI. Any time spent on the creation of new queries, charts, or tables is a time taken away from contextual analysis.

In contrast, a tailored data product approach leverages clever, interactive UI that allows the decision maker to arrive instantly at the relevant facts as new questions arise. The decision maker never leaves the document, nor rearranges the document, nor creates new sections, tables, or charts. They simply follow a non-linear narrative that evolves as facts and insights give rise to new contextual questions. It is like reading a magazine where each consumer can choose the order in which they read the articles.

The fundamental shift with Tailored BI is how the data is packaged and presented to the consumer to best fit their perception and decision-making style. Like any ready-to-use product, it makes use effortless. By constraining the decision maker’s flexibility to create new content in the document, the product designers give the decision maker unbound ability to answer quickly all the questions to make a fast and fact-based decisions.

The tailored BI approach requires new technologies but not new skills from those familiar with BI. It makes the design of tailored data-driven documents even easier and accessible to those people who have never used BI.

To learn more about how to create tailored BI documents, contact us.

Dr. Rado

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