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Does your IM solution deserve a AAA rating?

Ah users… they are the credit rating agencies that will decide whether your hard earned Information Management (IM) solution has any value, and yet they practically have no idea what is under the hood. The majority of them will have little to no awareness of the beautiful ETL processes that are merging and cleansing various sources into a well-defined homogeneous Enterprise Data Warehouse.

They will not take the time to read through the in-depth metadata layer specifying every detail that may puzzle them, nor will they engage in comprehensive investigations to verify the aggregated dataset against the sources. The triple-A rating will be granted (or not) based on a quick subjective evaluation – Do I understand it and will it easily give me the insight I need?

It is virtually like when you’re queuing up in IKEA and you notice these speedy self-serving check-out lanes. You quickly estimate that the self-service clusters will outperform the single cashier queues, but do you really want to bother with the hassle of figuring out a new shopping method to save a few minutes?

To truly butter your bread, you want more than just the prospect of productivity increase. The new solution must (obviously) be functional and reliable, but beyond that it must also be convenient and intuitive to use. In order to truly be a worthy alternative to the usual drill, it should be FUN to swipe that laser scanning gun yourself. At this stage the solutions user experience takes off from being a yet another alternative to being THE ONLY WAY!

In the same way, IM solutions must deliver a user experience beyond the promise of better insight and quality. Naturally those two are prerequisites for any success, but it takes more to enable an adaption throughout your organization. The excitement of the users is what will engage them, and eventually, ensure that the solution will be used onwards.

The reason why user experience is so important is that regular BI users evaluate the complete IM solution by assessing just the User Interface. While the UI may only take 10-20% of the total development time, it is the only gateway for the users to evaluate the remaining 80% of the solution. If the UI’s (re)search features are too cumbersome or the information is complicated to interpret, then the users will easily perceive the whole solution as a failure.

In this perspective, it is clear that the User Experience should not only live up to the functional requirements, but also be intuitive, convenient and even engaging, to ensure it is actually going to be used. Otherwise you may risk that the BI users will quickly fall back on the usual lifestyle, taking a nap in the cashiers queue, while the speedy self-service desks are left forsaken.


About Frederik Svend Andersen

Frederik is an enthusiast within technology and holistic use of information in daily life and business. As a consultant at Platon he gets the opportunity to pursue his IM interests and share his passion with colleagues and clients.


4 thoughts on “Does your IM solution deserve a AAA rating?

  1. Great blog post. A comment to your final remark – the real problem is even worse than the customer falling back “taking nap in the cashiers queue”. The real problem is that customers, from one day to another, disapears (churn) because another shop got a better product (read: user experience).

    Posted by Stig Torngaard (@stigtorngaard) | November 1, 2011, 10:55
  2. Thanks Stig. As most users are limited to using their company’s few available tools, I’d only expect to see the risk of churning to a new product in cases where parts of the organization are autonomously shopping their own software. Do you have a different take on this?

    Posted by Frederik Svend Andersen | November 1, 2011, 23:58
    • I certainly do. The new trend of “BYO” (Bring Your Own) could make bad UX in provided tools and lack of BYO support from IT a serious differentiator in a competitive market place. What I’m saying is that in the near future I will expect this topic to be as important for many employees as salary – hence change jobs to the company with the best tools/experinces…. I personally have examples in my network of friends changing job just because of crabby IT systems and no willing to change them from the employer.

      Posted by Stig Torngaard (@stigtorngaard) | November 2, 2011, 11:37
      • Good point! When peoples working environment – whether its colleagues, benefits or business processes –falls too much below the expected standards, they might as well look elsewhere. I think the impact of an otherwise exciting job, becoming dull due to ineffective tools, easily goes unnoticed by the management.

        Posted by Frederik Svend Andersen | November 3, 2011, 19:57

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