InetSoft on DM Radio: BI and the Ipad Revolution

This is the continuation of the transcript of DM Radio’s program titled “The Consumerization of Business Intelligence: How and Why.”

Eric Kavanagh:  Alright, ladies and gentleman, back here on DM Radio.  And last but certainly not least, one of our veteran performers is here on the show.  Byron Igoe of InetSoft, welcome back to DM Radio.

Byron Igoe:  Thanks Eric, good to be back.

Eric Kavanagh:  Sure thing.  So you have been patiently waiting out there.  What do you think about what we have hit on so far?  What have we gotten to that’s correct; what’s incorrect; what do you think?

Byron Igoe:  I think everything is correct.  I do think that the change in approach and in the culture is very important.  Francois was talking about earlier, how Google changed people’s expectations about getting answers to questions.  So now nobody has bar fights anymore in terms of “Yes, this fact is true; no, that fact is wrong.  Everybody just looks it up.  Wikipedia tells you the answer in a couple of seconds. 

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So I think it's good that the same kind of thing is finally happening in the business world, where people need to know, “Oh, what was our top performing product last quarter?”  They can find the actual answer.  They don’t have to rely on gut feel or instinct or intuition; they can actually use the data, since companies are collecting this data.  Now they can actually use that data with all these self-service visualization tools and get to the answers of the questions that they have.

Eric Kavanagh:  Now, that’s a really good point.  Like you say, it used to be that if you didn’t know the answer, well you could call someone or you could get out your Encyclopedia Britannica, if you even had those things.  But now, you just go what is that name again, and you don’t have a fight about it because everyone has access to the data.  So that’s a really good point.  I know something you were saying before the show, which I thought was a rather interesting point, is this whole concept of the iPad and the good side and the downside of the iPad being part of this whole consumerization of BI.  What’s your take on good versus bad with the iPad?

Byron Igoe:  So I mean first, let’s back up a little bit.  There is a push and pull when it comes to consumerization.  There is the pull, where consumers are asking for things, and then there is the push of vendors trying to make products that appeal to the consumers.  So in terms of the pull, I can’t help but feel that there is a little bit of a bad mentality when it comes to things like the iPad, where people want everything that they used to be able to do available on this fancy shiny new device with a big screen and no mess, and it's just not really appropriate for every task.  Francois actually made the point pre radio show that you need to make sure that you have the right tool for the job.  The iPad might be good for some things but it's not good for everything, right?  There are a lot of problems out there; some are nails, some are screws, the iPad is a hammer.  So it's good for nails, not necessarily good for screws.

Eric Kavanagh:  Well there are -- I mean let's face it, there are all kinds of disparities in devices, and this I think is a big part of the challenge out there for BI in general and consumerization of BI, in particular vis-à-vis this whole revolution around the iPad.  Because I, as a perhaps borderline schizophrenic information consumer, have got a Macintosh in front of me, I have got a PC to my right, I have got a PC laptop to my left, I use all sorts of different browsers; it's very scattered.  So I see and feel every single day the difference in functionality from one tool to the next, and these are not small differences. 

I mean, those of you who out there are using different kinds of tools, you will know that the behavior is different.  If you right click from Firefox on a media file, you will get a different set of options than if you right click from Explorer on the same media file, on the same web page at the same exact moment in time.  And that difference in behavior is a bit, well it's a bit discombobulating I suppose.  And there are certainly efforts out there to create more of a unified, or uniform I should say, management environment for dealing with functionality, but the bottom line is that things are changing so fast, new tools come out, new browser updates, it's almost impossible to really stay on top of every form factor, every browser, every set of functionality built into every object that you have got.  And so, in a way, the iPad kind of contributes to this whole Tower of Babel concept that I am seeing out there.  What do you think about that Byron?

Byron Igoe:  Yeah, that’s definitely true.  I mean I think that the limited functionality of the iPad, for example, not having a USB port, not having a physical keyboard, having to use your fat fingers to touch items on the screen so you don’t have as much precision, is forcing people to change how they consume information and also how the apps built for the iPad function.  Everybody makes their buttons nice and big now to make sure that people are clicking on the right thing.

Eric Kavanagh:  Yeah.  And I actually wrote an article not too long ago called Who Moved My Cheese-Finding Menu Option, and the point was that these interfaces are changing so much, and there is a sort of wave of changes that have occurred overtime. And while Software as a Service changes things, the iPad and mobile were the biggest changes because now any piece of functionality can be hidden under any icon or menu listing.  It used to be File, Edit, View, Window, etc., and you kind of knew roughly where to go based upon that.  But now with these mobile devices, it's all over the map. 

So with consumerization, I guess what I am wondering to myself is, are we going to come back to more of a unified environment, where you can look at things and really intuitively understand where they are?  And that is one dynamic in the industry, but the other dynamic is this fracturing of rules and the fracturing of standards of how things should be done.  What do you think about that?

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