*Sorry readers, we used a bad word. There may be more throughout this article, but if it encourages you to critically examine the concept of standardisation and its negative impact, then it’s worth it. Sorry, not sorry.*
Yeah, you heard us right the first time. Standardisation in analytics tools, often hailed as the cornerstone of making technological progress, is bullsh*t. Don’t believe us? Let’s put it another way. Clinging to a single standardised analytics and bi tool can stifle creativity, hinder flexibility, and ultimately slow down progress within your business.
But that’s just one side of the argument. In this article, we’ll dive into the controversial statement, shedding light on both the pros and cons of BI standardisation, and challenging the widely held belief that standardisation is always beneficial.
The double-edged sword of standardisation
Standardisation is the process of creating and implementing technical standards based on the consensus of different parties that include firms, users, interest groups, standards organisations, and governments. It’s supposed to help maximise compatibility, interoperability, safety, repeatability, and quality.
It’s often associated with a number of benefits, including:
Increased efficiency: By creating a common framework for businesses to operate within they’re able to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Improved quality: By ensuring that services meet certain standards they can improve the quality of those products and services.
Increased safety: As above but replace quality standards for safety.
Increased compatibility: Standardisation can help to increase compatibility between products and services, making it easier for businesses to work together.
Reduced spend: Removing expensive and overlapping tooling licences and removing the need for multiple ABI teams (one per tool) and overlapping infrastructure (per tool). Don’t forget better rates that come with increasing buying power with the chosen Analytics and BI vendor!
Sounds incredible, right? Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be more efficient and cost effective while improving quality and safety for products and services. But as the subtitle suggests, this is a double-edged sword, and sadly this blade is pretty sharp.
You see, standardisation can also backfire for companies who embrace it. For example, it can:
Lead to vendor lock-in: When a company standardises a particular Analytics and BI platform, it becomes more dependent on that vendor. Making it more difficult and expensive to switch to a different platform in the future.
Reduce flexibility: Standardisation can reduce the flexibility of an analytics team. This is because a single vendor will do some things well and others not so well. The things it doesn’t do well lead to rigid solutions around the limitations.
Stifle innovation: Standardisation can stifle innovation by discouraging developers from developing new and unique analytics applications. This is because developers may be reluctant to invest time and effort in developing applications that are not compatible with standardised platforms.
Opportunity cost: Migrating existing content from other Analytics and BI tools is time consuming and costly. Typically, everything gets moved (without knowing the value), which means new projects aren’t being done and you’re missing opportunities wasting time on stuff that isn’t needed.
Not so great now, is it?
Standardisation Simplifies Interoperability
Another reason that people gravitate toward analytics standardisation is due to the way it simplifies interoperability or removes the need for interoperation entirely. The allure of everything working together seamlessly, fostering compatibility, and reducing friction in user experience is too enticing to miss out on. I mean, imagine a world where every manufacturer had a different design for electric sockets or USB ports – chaos would ensue – we’re looking at you Apple!
But does that mean you have to succumb to the other negatives we discussed? There may be a better way.
At Digital Hive, we like companies to have freedom within their analytics tech stack, utilising tools and services that tick every box based on need, not just a few because the others won’t play nicely together.
By layering Digital Hive over your analytics tech stack, you get the benefits of standardisation without the negatives that accompany it. Instead, you get to keep the ABI tools and services that work for your organisation and your individual business unit needs, while adding in a branded front end that is as simple or in depth as you need it to be.
Imagine a place where all your analytics assets live, easily accessible without having to reinvent the wheel on how it’s accessed. Now imagine having to standardise that content to fit a new product just because it plays nice with the flavour of the week tech that no one wants, but it’s part of the package you just bought. Got to get your money’s worth, right?
Stop Fitting Square Pegs in Round Holes
Okay, the title is a bit provocative, but you get the point. While standardisation offers undeniable benefits, it’s not a panacea. It can, and does, block innovation, reduce flexibility, and stifle competition.
The key is to strike a balance. By using Digital Hive to collate ABI software into one easily accessible front end, you can begin fostering an environment that encourages usage, improves productivity of users and power users, adapts to change and helps BI teams prioritize work and understand value. We can enjoy the benefits of standardisation without falling into its potential pitfalls. After all, in the dynamic world of technology, adaptability, speed and balance are the keys to success.
Thus, it’s not that standardisation that is bullsh*t; rather, it’s that blind adherence to standardisation, without considering its potential drawbacks and the need for balance, can lead us down a problematic path. By recognising this, we can navigate the complex landscape of technology with a more nuanced understanding and a greater potential for progress.
For more information about Digital Hive and how we can work with you to achieve amazing results, contact us today.
A few years ago I met Walter Isaacson, former Chairman of CNN, Editor of TIME, and author of Steve Jobs’ biography. If you
can’t tell from his pedigree, Isaacson is a great storyteller. He also wrote
about other famous innovators including Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and
Leonardo Da Vinci. I only had time to ask him one question, so I made it a good
“What did Jobs, Franklin, Einstein, and Da Vinci have in
common that made them such great visionaries?”
Isaacson smiled and responded, “All great innovators operate at the intersection of Art and Science.” I think Isaacson would agree this balance applies to data storytelling as well. Truly effective storytelling drives business action, and this occurs with the right mix of facts, visual presentation, and contextual narrative. Finding this balance is a challenge, but with the right tools and methodology, you can go from creating flashy dashboards to actually informing decisions.
Over the past decade, there has been a massive push for companies to leverage data. We are starting to see the Rise of Chief Data Officers. Humans are visual by nature, so we have also seen increased adoption of user-friendly visualization tools like Tableau, Qlik, Power BI, and ThoughtSpot. As the push for data democratization and access to data continues to increase, we need to ensure data is being effectively communicated and consumed – not just put into a pretty dashboard. Data Storytelling
What is Data Storytelling? Data Storytelling is translating data in an easy to understand the way to help people take action on the business. There are three main components to data storytelling: story boarding, data visualizations and data narrative.
The art of communicating using data and analytics, is still on the starting block. However, by establishing a methodology and using new technologies to support us, we can realize the full value of our data, inspire action, and transform Data Storytelling from an industry buzzword into an effective boardroom practice.
Rather than just deliver report requests, analytics teams must establish a dialogue with the business to understand the context. Context includes goals, challenges, and potential decisions that the business will make. In creating this dialogue, gaps in understanding will appear. These gaps will highlight the best questions to ask of the data. Ultimately, the answers to these questions will deliver the value business leaders have been seeking.
Using Technology for Storytelling
Once the context has been established and the right questions are being asked, analytics teams, can use technology to help communicate information with a narrative to increase understanding. We use reports and data visualization tools now. Data visualization helps us see blatant patterns, but it isn’t ideal for communicating context and situational nuances. We also shouldn’t assume interpreting a visualization is easy for everyone. With the global Data Literacy rate struggling around 24%, delivering an isolated report or visualization is risky – the information can easily be misinterpreted and lead to costly decisions.
New technology, like Digital Hive’s Enterprise Portal enables companies to easily balance the art and science of data storytelling so they can communicate and understand the entire business narrative – and ultimately make the best decisions.
By bringing together reports, visualizations, and dashboards from all of your different BI tools into a single storyboard, you can mix best-of-breed technology to deliver all of the facts. Contextually, you can incorporate video, custom messaging, presentations, and data literacy support assets to complete the narrative and inspire action.
The ideal balance of data, visualization, and narrative can now be achieved without the limitations of any one tool or technology because you can use all of your tools together seamlessly.
To increase the value of analytics for the business, we must find a greater balance between the art and science of data storytelling. When looking to improve the art, we must change the way analytics teams and the business communicate context. Then, we need to ask impactful questions of our data.
Finally, when delivering our findings, we should leverage technology to support us by using data visualization and data storytelling tools to communicate insight within a narrative.
Digital Hive and Data Storytelling
Digital Hive dynamically displays content from any information system seamlessly in one unified platform – providing the easiest, most efficient, and customizable experience for the delivery and consumption of data stories on the market today. Behind the scenes, Digital Hive defends users from change-disruption, tracks analytics adoption, and reduces the IT backlog.
Organizations today are faced with more decision-making challenges than ever before. This is due to the sheer volume of data, disparate sources, and breadth of information that they must process to operate effectively—not to mention their competitors’ efforts to outmaneuver them at every turn.
Traditional business intelligence (BI) helps organizations make better decisions. However, all these tools can’t solve all the challenges companies face. Technology, process, and people are three key pillars of transformation. Technology will and is constantly changing and innovating and optimizing platforms and processes is the key to leveraging and delivering insights in the fastest and most effective way. Could an enterprise portal be the ticket you’ve been waiting for all this time?
Businesses need to become more intelligent, which means they need to make their organization more agile. They need to be able to adapt quickly and correctly, but in order do that they need a modern platform for insight delivery from multiple tools. To deliver such a platform organization should invest in an Intelligent Enterprise Portal (IEP).
“Highly successful agile transformations typically delivered around 30 percent gains in efficiency, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and operational performance; made the organization five to ten times faster; and turbocharged innovation.” McKinsey & Company
This all sounds nice… but is it a necessity for all businesses? In this article we’ll highlight how enterprise portals can help businesses cut costs dramatically but drive value at the same time. We’ll also cover what an enterprise portal is, how it works, and why it shouldn’t be perceived as a ‘nice to have’.
What is an Enterprise Portal?
An enterprise portal is a central information hub that provides users with real-time access to critical organizational data and information. It acts as a web-based platform that combines all your existing business’s analytics and intelligence sources (on-premises and cloud), giving users a consistent interface across multiple technologies and a direct route to what they need. Over and above having a centralized analytics experience, the right intelligent enterprise portal can provide your users with that extra layer of value they need by learning from user behavior patterns, history, and peer activity (Learn more here)
Death by multiple systems?
Regardless of a user’s role in the business, most if not all the daily activities carried out involve manual processes because the people involved don’t have a direct route to the information they need, which leads to duplication of effort and the subsequent delays that come with it.
For example, let’s say there is a problem with an order. For a team – whether customer-facing or internal – to solve it, they need access to information across 25 different systems and applications. That’s 25 different platforms with 25 different logins, 25 different looking portals, 25 different ways to navigate around a platform, 25 different ways to extract information, 25 portals that don’t know or understand the user… the list goes on. Based on this example, a user is wasting 37.5 mins simply logging in and accessing what they need – they haven’t even started on the ‘solving‘ part.
Accessing, navigating, and managing multiple systems affects your bottom line. It’s as simple as that. We’re talking about hours and days lost, reducing the productivity of your employees, and impacting their engagement and morale. In essence, businesses are paying people to ‘waste time’.
In most businesses where a lack of efficiency is called into question, it is usually down to people spending too much time on their mobile devices, standing chatting at the coffee machine, or blaming a meeting that overruns. But in today’s technology driven world, could scenarios like the one above (managing 25 different platforms) be:
Costing you in dollars, time, and productivity?
The reason for low productivity and engagement?
Contributing towards low adoption of BI across the business?
Preventing the creation of a data-driven culture?
Stopping you from becoming a smarter organization?
So, in a year’s time, how much money might you be losing?
Keep it simple and centralized with an Enterprise Portal
The pressure to stay competitive is growing and businesses that digitally transform are better places because they are able to use analytics and information to make quick and informed decisions. Focus needs to be on the user, their experience, and what information they have at their disposal. Are in-efficient processes and disconnected technologies hindering the business’s success?
By replacing the multiple portal experience with a centralized view of critical information and analytics across existing systems and technologies – all within one unified interface – allows users to see what’s happening now and what’s coming up next.
This will not only save users time and eliminate in-efficiencies, but it can also help users make better, faster decisions across your organization.
To find out how Digital Hive can help you drive change and centralize, contacts us today!
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.
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.
Gartner Disclaimer: The GARTNER COOL VENDOR badge is a trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s Research & Advisory organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
As companies race to find value in their data and improve the customer experience, many have overlooked an obvious value-add: providing analytics for the customer. Client-facing analytics differentiates companies from the competition, helping increase market share, retention, and even direct revenue if packaged and productized.
Why aren’t all companies doing this already? The data is there, and the reporting, dashboards, and visualizations are plenty.
One of the most difficult aspects of trying to provide analytics to customers is delivering a complete, appealing product. With analytics coming from a variety of internal business intelligence tools, packaging all of this information is far from easy. Both internal and external, users desire a seamless analytics experience. If bringing all of this content together into a single user experience wasn’t challenging enough, each experience needs to be tailored for various audiences.
On top of wrangling content, curating different experiences, and creating a pretty product – facilitating understanding is also a challenge. Chief Data Officers are tasked with fostering data culture, increasing BI adoption, and improving data literacy. However, these initiatives shouldn’t be limited to the internal organization. Companies need to extend this concentration to clients and partners as well.
The Ideal Customer Analytics Portal
Given the needs and challenges discussed above, let’s describe the ideal external analytics portal for clients and partners:
In summary, companies should aim to deliver analytics both internally and externally to clients and partners to maximize the value of data and grow together with strong data-informed relationships using an analytics portal.
The ideal analytics portal integrates reports and visualizations from all of your different BI tools, allows for the curation of content for different groups including data literacy support, and provides an attractive and easy to use experience.
Why Act Now?
If you provide your clients with informative analytics to help them grow their businesses, your business will become an irreplaceable source of value. If you DON’T provide your clients and partners with analytics, someone else will.
The demand for analytics is continually increasing as companies use data to drive decision making. If you are not providing clients with informative analytics to help them grow their business, how are you ensuring that your service will not become an irreplaceable source of value?
Offer your clients a service that goes above and beyond the competition. Replace any frustrations by giving them full autonomy over their analytics environment.
How to create a Customer Portal with Digital Hive
Read more about our enterprise portal solutions, or get in touch, if you want to chat about customer analytics portals – we can show you how simple it is to get set up!
Book a demo with a member of the team. See the full Digital Hive experience as well as some of the branded customer portals we’ve created.