In 2015 Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella famously said: “every business will be a software business”. And it’s hard to argue that when companies like Uber, Airbnb, and JustEat are disrupting, then dominating, established, seemingly unassailable industries.
If you’re under pressure to transform your company into a software business, you’re not alone. The big question then becomes: to build or not to build?
The period of staggering technology advancement in the 2010s changed everything. In a single decade, social media, search, smartphones, 4G, Cloud computing, AI and big data, and user interface design sped through ‘hype cycles’ and went mainstream. These technologies profoundly altered people’s expectations of software’s UX, speed, reliability, and personalization.
Prior to that decade, enterprise software and transformation programmes had gained an image problem. That was largely because ‘Transformation’ had become a euphemism for asking employees to change the way they worked to adapt to expensive, large-scale enterprise software rollouts. The Boomers and Gen-Xers who dominated the workforce rarely adopted these systems to the extent that their organisations hoped – in most cases, it was ‘just enough’. I’m in no way blaming big enterprise software companies for designing systems the way they did. The vision was…
In 2015 Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella famously said: “every business will be a software business”. And it’s hard to argue that when companies like Uber, Airbnb, and JustEat are disrupting, then dominating, established, seemingly unassailable industries. If you’re under pressure to transform your company into a software business, you’re not alone. The big question then becomes: to build or not to build?
In every disrupted industry, one software trend – analytics – is separating the good from the great. Arming employees with fast access to reliable data for smart decision-making is essential for any company that wants to outflank competitors. It follows that many in-house development teams are evaluating whether to embed analytics in existing applications that people use every day, like intranets and CRM.
When Nadella made that prediction, he clearly didn’t want everyone to build their own software. Total control can be alluring, but there are many spanners that can land in the works: leadership changes, security issues, data privacy regulation, and constantly evolving technology versions, protocols and standards – to name but a few. We have a whole developer team dedicated to staying current with analytics and BI software including ThoughtSpot, Cognos, Power BI and the many others with which we integrate our intelligent portal.
However I want to focus on one consideration that trumps all others – the user experience (UX). Unless you tempt users to adopt your software by offering an exceptional UX, all the beautiful coding in the world won’t matter. And these days, with millennials dominating the workforce, people won’t be comparing your software’s UX against those of SAP or Oracle; they’ll compare it to Google, Amazon and – the inspiration for our software’s UX – Netflix. Modern software is built for short attention spans, and expectations for instant gratification, personalisation and device portability.
Adoption is top priority for the many companies working to provide analytics to business users. Gartner’s 2017 report on BI and analytics pervasiveness saw adoption rates “jump” to 32 percent after flatlining around 20 percent for a decade – but remains unacceptably low. The main obstacles we see to adoption are UX issues: users can’t find exactly what they’re looking for (navigability), fast enough (speed), without IT support (self-service). Today’s the bar is higher: users want to personalise their environments, get recommendations, and use search and voice commands.
To create UXs that drive analytics adoption, companies need specialist expertise. Even if your company has the funds to invest millions in R&D, finding and retaining ‘rock star’ quality UX designer talent is a bun fight. With a global skills shortage in UX design, LinkedIn has cited UX design as one of the top skills to learn in 2020 analysing the data from 660+ million professionals and 20+ million jobs.
As with most things the buy vs build decision all boils down to what your goals are. If the software you need is really specialised, not available on the market, and has few external dependencies, building makes sense. However, if your goal is widespread user adoption of a service like analytics that supports digital transformation, then buy – or a hybrid approach where you can do custom development with an SDK – are the ways forward.
A note of caution: what starts as a project to solve a specific problem can morph into something much more complex. Many of our customers started out needing to build a simple intranet to host company information. Then employees came to expect company information in the form of analytics, in (close to) real time. That means having to connect to data and reports from analytics and BI tools – a much more complex proposition to build and maintain.
So the question shouldn’t be ‘can we build it?’ but rather ‘can we build – and maintain – software that people will use’?
Those of us preaching the power of data – on LinkedIn, on stage at keynotes, and at yearly budgeting meetings – prescribe data as the solution to all problems. However, we all know the execution of a powerful analytics strategy is often more challenging than anticipated. These challenges are especially severe in higher education, even before operating in the midst of a global pandemic and looming economic recession. Now, the hurdles seem larger than ever. Budgets are being significantly reduced or frozen, analytics teams are being defunded and paralyzed in the face of uncertainty. Yet, the greatest action universities can take today, one thing they can control, is to double down on data. Those who choose to do will evolve and emerge stronger. Those who don’t, may not survive.
Adoption is essential
Higher education has always been slow to adopt new technology, which I think is understandable. Universities are large and complex. They have many layers of leadership and often rely on external funding. It’s this complexity that makes data such a valuable asset for university decision making, and in the past decade, major strides have been made to introduce data & analytics tools across departments. The results of these changes, however, have been slow to surface.
One of the reasons that data investments are seeing less than stellar returns, is a product of the university’s organization and structure. Many groups operate independently from one another – especially when it comes to technology purchasing decisions – and this has resulted in a variety of siloed tools and technologies.
However, efforts have been made to create university-wide analytics councils and information management teams, but working backwards to resolve the existing incompatibility of different technologies is still difficult.
Now as we start to see valuable information being generated by many different departments, having an awareness or sight of key information that could be a saving grace to universities in crisis-mode is critical. However accessing, sharing, and acting on this information quickly is still next to impossible.
Everything in one place
Pomona College Branded as ‘ConnectTo’, Pomona’s advancement department used Digital Hive and created a single, unified information portal bringing together IBM Cognos, Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, and SSRS. Last year, Pomona College won a National Silver CASE Award with ‘ConnectTo’. Now, users have one place to go to easily find reports, dashboards, documents, training materials and more.
This has resulted in greater efficiency and productivity across departments, an increase in adoption (more than quadrupled), a reduction in technology management costs, and has directly impacted decision making in regards to fundraising campaigns.
While actively investing in new technology projects during a period of uncertainty may seem risky, the greatest risk is in retreating to the status quo. In all areas of our society, both in business and our personal lives, we have experienced a steady increase in digital transformation.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not creating a new normal, it has simply accelerated the inevitable evolution of how we behave and interact. For many businesses who made digital investments early on, this period will mark an opportunity to accelerate past the competition. For others, it’s a wake-up call that the train is leaving the station, and immediate action is required. Unfortunately for the rest, a lack of action when times are good and when times are bad, will result in devastating consequences.
Click here to read more about howDigital Hive ransformed Pomona College’s fundraising efforts or book a demo to see Digital Hive in action.
Every year, Gartner, one of the world’s leading IT research companies, publishes a Cool Vendor Report highlighting new technologies in Analytics and Data Science. This year, Digital Hive (formally known as Theia) received this recognition. Previous Gartner Cool Vendors include Tableau, Snowflake, and Looker just to name a few. Many CDO’s and CTO’s use Gartner to help successfully guide their IT strategy and technology purchasing decisions.
So, does being named a Gartner Cool Vendor mean anything to Digital Hive…YES!
The Intersection of Need and Solution
Gartner analysts are some of the most informed middle-men in the world. Working with both technology vendors and enterprise data leaders, they sit at an incredibly valuable intersection of information. It’s at this intersection that Gartner is able to provide value, having 1000’s of conversations a year on both sides of the fence, identifying emerging challenges and the technologies that will provide a solution.
Validation of Enterprise Need
For Digital Hive, being named a Gartner Cool Vendor is a validation that the use of many BI & Analytics tools within large enterprises is creating real problems for end-users with BI Adoption, Data Literacy, and meaningful ROI. Companies are now in a full-sprint race to go digital, maximize the value of their data, and provide more meaningful experiences. Without frictionless access to information, meaningful data literacy education, and a push for greater user adoption, many companies are going to see the millions they invested in data & analytics go down the drain.
Even more, we now have the validation that a multi-tool tech stack is NOT going away. Co-existence is needed. If consolidating to a single BI tool is on your roadmap, be forewarned it’s a long, expensive, and ever-changing journey. Every year innovations in data & analytics produce new tools and vendors, making it necessary for companies to keep pace and maintain a competitive edge.
A Rise in Vendor Competition
For many, competition in the marketplace is a threat. For Digital Hive, seeing the recent increase in competition indicates that there IS a marketplace for our Analytic Hub solution and that we are providing much-needed value.
Why Digital Hive is the Best Analytics Hub Solution
That being said, Digital Hive was the first Analytics Hub solution to identify and solve the market need of bringing enterprise BI together. The first-mover advantage has allowed us to evolve and innovate more quickly than our competitors and provide increased value to our clients as their needs change.
Digital Hive is uniquely differentiated as the only true technology-agnostic analytics hub that allows users to interact with the full-functionality of different reports and dashboards seamlessly within the experience.
Most of the competition in our space only provides a functional analytics catalog (or is yet another BI tool in disguise). Digital Hive is the only true Analytics Hub. In addition to an Analytics Catalog Digital Hive enables end-users to create interactive Data Storyboards using reports from different tools, and contextualize information with presentations, video, RSS feeds, and custom messaging.
This means that clients can unlock the full power of Data Storytelling and Data Literacy support. Every department, persona, partner, or client receives relevant and tailored information supported by context.
Only Digital Hive can do that.
How You Can Use Digital Hive Today
Digital Hive has clients in every vertical, all around the world – Financial Services, Healthcare, Higher Education, Manufacturing, Retail, and more. With out-of-the-box connectors to 18 major information systems and a Custom API connector, any business can bring their choice of BI & Analytics tools together and benefit with Digital Hive.
Digital Hive has been named a 2020 Gartner Cool Vendor in Analytics and Data Science
With the average organization using 3.8 different BI solutions, and the number of different business roles wanting to analyze the data increasing, it’s critical that businesses make it easy for users to leverage, share and scale the analytics value from different systems that have been generated before.
According to Gartner’s report, published May 7th, 2020:
“Organizations are struggling to manage analytics content from different tools. This hinders the ability to share and scale the use of analytics, and limits adoption as users fail to find and compile the insights that have been generated before.”
Garter recommend that one way this can be achieved is by
“establishing an easily accessible portal that has single access to the analytics content built by multiple existing analytics solutions.”
Gartner’s definition of a Cool Vendor is “a small company offering a technology or service that is: innovative — enables users to do things they couldn’t do before, impactful — has or will have a business impact — not just technology for its own sake, intriguing — has caught Gartner’s interest during the past six months.”
Why is Digital Hive Cool?
Digital Hive’s technology consolidates key information assets across an entire organization in one convenient and digestible place, giving users real-time access to the relevant information they contain through a single point of entry.
Digital Hive (formally known as Theia) connects to analytics and BI tools platforms such as ThoughtSpot, Tableau, Qlik, IBM Cognos as well as standard document systems such as Google Drive, SharePoint, Box and social media platforms.
Click hereto read Gartner’s full report – link off to Gartner.
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