‘Ease of Use’ is Number One in Business Intelligence Selection Criteria

ease of use BI software1 300x225 photo (business intelligence)

Author:  Linda Rosencrance – Spotfire Blogging Team

ease of use BI software1 300x225 photo (business intelligence)

Author:  Linda Rosencrance – Spotfire Blogging Team

When it comes to a successful business intelligence implementation, “ease of use” is where it’s at. But that doesn’t mean you need a “slick interface,” said Matt Warden in a recent blog post. Warden said usability is more than “looking beautiful or sexy.” What’s important for BI professionals is to create interfaces— beautiful or not —that users will embrace.

For the first time, “ease of use” is the deciding factor for selecting a BI platform, replacing “functionality,” according to Gartner’s 2011 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms report. In the report, Gartner offers its opinion of the main software vendors that should be considered by organizations looking to use business intelligence platforms to develop BI applications.

Andreas Bitterer, vice president of research at Gartner, said users want to use the technology immediately—“they don’t want to read the manual.” That means BI applications have to be simple and intuitive enough so they can use them without having to sit through long training programs or read stacks of documentation. Bitterer said one factor that can lead to the sustained adoption of BI by its intended users is ease of use because “if it’s difficult to work with, they’ll stop using it.”

That’s a tall order, but one IT must fulfill to make BI much more valuable to the business, Warden said. Organizations must begin to address problems with user adoption on day one of a new BI initiative, through regular, frequent, and meaningful interactions between BI developers and business users. More people will use BI when they can interact with working prototypes using real data and the BI platforms they’re accustomed to, he said.

According to Gartner, “The demand side of the BI platform market in 2010 was defined by an intensified struggle between business users’ need for ease of use and flexibility on the one hand, and ITs need for standards and control on the other. With ‘ease of use’ now surpassing ‘functionality’ for the first time as the dominant BI platform buying criterion in research conducted for this report, vocal, demanding and influential business users are increasingly driving BI purchasing decisions, most often choosing easier to use data discovery tools over traditional BI platforms—with or without IT’s consent.”

Spotfire’s director of product marketing, Lou Jordano (@LouJordano) echoed this sentiment in a blog interview earlier this year: “To ensure widespread adoption across information workers, ease-of-use is paramount. Spotfire is among the easiest to use analytic applications, and that is one reason it has such a loyal customer base. In analytics, power and presentation matter, and Spotfire has both.”

So how does Spotfire stack up? Respondents in the Gartner survey said Tibco Spotfire met the criteria for ease of use.

“Survey customers rate Tibco Spotfire’s functionality as among the top vendors in the survey for predictive analytics, interactive visualization and ad hoc query with all workloads of ad hoc analysis, in particular moderate and complex ad hoc analysis, the main use case for Tibco Spotfire. Because of Tibco Spotfire’s ease of use, more users can leverage the benefits of analytics,” according to the Gartner report.

Additionally, according to Gartner, by 2013, “33% of BI functionality will be consumed via handheld devices” and companies will be looking to deploy simple, clean, easily accessible and scannable interfaces.

Ease-of-use is now the number one BI selection criteria and its importance will only continue to grow. So remember when you’re purchasing BI software, it doesn’t have to be real slick, but it does have to be easy to use.

To see why Spotfire is one of the easiest to use analytic applications check out our recent complimentary webcast titled  “What’s New with Spotfire version 3.3″.

Linda Rosencrance
Spotfire Blogging Team