Why So Many Fail to Move Away from Traditional Business Intelligence Reporting

I am always surprised when I see organizations still using huge stacks of traditional grid or tabular reports in PDF bundles. Yet I come across this exact scenario quite often. In many cases, higher-level managers are receiving bundles of PDF reports, and in some cases these reports are north of 300 pages! Included are all rollups of the organizational hierarchy that they manage in that bundle.

With all the advancements and current capabilities of enterprise business intelligence platforms, there have been many efforts to migrate users away from this traditional grid reporting. But many of these efforts are unsuccessful. They end up being wasted resources, only to end up with users still not willing to give up their reports.

You’re not alone if you are asking why all these efforts to transition users to a sophisticated BI platform are so unsuccessful. Stacks of grid reports in PDFs is an archaic and cumbersome method of consuming information, especially since this is how they make critical business decisions. In my experience, there are a variety of reasons for this struggle.

It’s pretty, but does it help?

A more common reason for failure to transition away from traditional BI reports includes implementing a replacement that doesn’t truly meet the needs of the user.

For example, a common path is to select dynamic dashboards and visualizations as the potential replacement. But all too often the approach just attempts to reproduce the current traditional reports in a dashboard format without any vetting or validation of the requirements.

How are the metrics from the traditional reporting being used? (If they are used at all. I have witnessed many sessions where the metrics on a traditional long-standing report are revisited and it turns out no one can even recall why a particular metric is on the report or how anyone uses it!).

So, the end result may be a report that looks better aesthetically, but functionally the user could get to what they need quicker from their 300 page PDF bundle.

This tool…it does nothing!

Another common issue I have encountered is that the tool that is implemented doesn’t match the need of the particular use case.

For example, an ad-hoc analytical tool might be implemented to give the user complete flexibility to look at which metrics they want, viewed by which attributes they want and filtered in any way that they want. But depending on the use case, sometimes more is not necessarily better. Maybe this case is better served with predefined analytical workflows. All the flexibility just distracts the user or results in a less efficient path to action needed.

Mobility as the dangling carrot

Regardless of the reason, it is frustrating to invest time and money in something and not achieve the desired result. This is where mobile comes into play.

Lately, I have seen several transitions that leverage mobile applications as a tool to migrate the user away from traditional reporting. Not only have those been successful, but in most cases have the users begging for more.

In my next blog post, I share the reasons why incorporating enterprise mobile applications aids in user adoption of advanced business intelligence platforms and increases business value.

What reasons do you think would stop your business from adopting a better BI tool? Add your comments below!

Photo Credits: Lauren Manning and JanneM via Compfight cc

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