Davide HananDavide Hanan

Systems need to give users the same experience they get from consumer software

Companies need data to make better decisions, says , MD of QlikView South Africa. While few would argue with that statement, Hanan says business intelligence (BI) has a shockingly low penetration worldwide. He says statistics reveal less than 30% of the people that ought to use BI are using it. “It is a frightening statistic, but it’s because traditional BI has failed to deliver what a user needs to analyse their data.”

Big data is a growing trend in the business world. Hanan says: “Before most businesses start looking into big data, they need to make sure they are addressing the basics correctly.” The interest in big data has put even more focus on BI, he notes.

“All the research shows it’s already a high priority for all CIOs, but I think, with big data, it adds value to what BI can do because, again, it focuses on the fact that you have access to the data. If you have access to the information, it can impact positively on your business and that’s really what BI is all about,” he says.

, VP of product strategy at QlikTech, says: “We’ve been very successful, as companies in general, to produce data. We do that on an increasing scale. But we’re also implementing systems that capture this data and increasingly developing systems that produce data.

“I think a lot of the big data requirements were triggered out of the volumes of information stored in places like Facebook and Twitter,” says Hanan. “I think people have a need to analyse that because it contains a wealth of information.”

But the problem with big data is, well, its magnitude. “You need to be able to present that data in a way that can be absorbed by the human mind,” says Hanan.

One of the reasons big data is growing, says Hanan, is processing power. “The fact is that you can work across multiple servers to give you the processing power you require to do that analysis. There is a need for analytics, and there is the processing power available to actually do it. So, the two together make it possible.”

However, explains Hanan, many still have a sort of mental block when it comes to business intelligence. “BI as a technology was born in the late 1980s, and the technology that you had in the late 80s limited you to the way in which you could deliver BI. And what was acceptable in 1991 or 1992 is completely unacceptable in 2012.”

He says BI is often only used by technologically-minded people in a company, and this is inhibiting. “Information needs to be used by a lot more people in the organisation. So, that kind of technology is not appealing to those kinds of people at all.”

He says the increase in the consumerisation of IT has led people to expect the same kind of user experience at work as they get at home. They simply refuse to work with difficult, non-user-friendly technology. “You don’t go to a library any more. You don’t have encyclopaedias at home. Yet, if you go to the office, you’re presented with pieces of paper.”

BI is an old technology, says Hanan, and it needs to move with the times. “I always find it amazing that it’s a technology that’s now 30 years old, and you still have to explain to people what BI is about. Which is absurd. The objective of BI is very simple: to help you make decisions. A business cannot survive without information, so it’s bizarre that we have to explain what BI is. Why? Because BI was so complicated you had to explain the technology behind it and everyone forgot that it’s effectively the delivery that’s important.”

All users need, says Hanan, is a better BI experience.