“Are You Being Served?”

From Self-Service to Free Delivery:  Push Intelligence, automated alerts and reporting anytime, on any device

How does IT keep up with the ever changing business needs for new data sources, and reports that enable business users to see data in new ways? For many the answer is:  let business users do it themselves. But what about users who don’t have the time or inclination to serve themselves? There are at least two groups of users in my experience who would prefer to have information delivered to them rather than serve themselves:  on the one hand, there are executives pressed for time and on the other, there are non-technical users who find even drag and drop functionality too challenging, or due to the nature of their jobs, can’t easily get back to the office to connect to corporate network reporting. Often many self-service reporting projects fail to get adoption because they don’t consider the different needs of these users.

For these cases, it makes sense to invest in a platform that has “push intelligence”:  the ability for business users or IT to easily set up email subscriptions or alerts sent to any device, based on user-defined criteria.  In a previous post, I highlighted many new self-service BI solutions outside of the Microsoft BI stack, which itself does offer some ability for users to subscribe to reports.  But several of the newer self-service BI solutions provide even easier and smarter ways to push intelligence and data alerts.  By that I mean, they have an easy to use interface for even non-technical users to schedule reports to be emailed to them on daily, weekly, or other regular time frame.  And even better, users can easily select criteria for automatically sending a report or an alert only when a user-defined threshold is reached for a selected data point. The value of such machine-based “smart delivery” is that users only need to look at reports when something needs attention, rather than have to look each day and determine whether anything meaningful has changed.  These solutions also make it super easy to transform desktop reporting to mobile reporting without any additional investment.

We recently explored a trial offered by Metrics Insights, which has some of the most comprehensive and yet still easy-to-use push intelligence features we’ve seen among the emerging self-service platforms.  To get an idea of just how easy Metric Insights has made alert set up, here is a screenshot from their user guide.

MetricInsightsCapture

In the screenshot above, the wizard (1) enables you to select an alert value or percentage (2) above or below a previous value (3) over any time period, and (4) shows the criteria in a readable format.  The rest of the wizard lets users select whether to send the alert to a mobile device as an SMS text message or as an email. It’s that easy.

This functionality is so useful, it should become standard criteria when evaluating BI software purchases.  Given Tableau’s weakness in this area, it’s not surprising that they have partnered with Metric Insights to enable Tableau to leverage Metric Insight’s push intelligence functionality.

There are several other emerging BI self-service platforms that we put through the paces of a trial and demo set-up, each showing their own strengths.  If you’d like to hear more, contact Gail Kluepfel at gkluepfel@westmonroepartners.com.  We’re happy to share our experiences or help you get started with assessing these options for yourself with a demo using your own data.

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