John Gruber at Daring Fireball recently wrote a post on “Apple’s Highest Priority is Obviousness” and it got me thinking about ease of use of current BI and mobile Business Intelligence (BI) tools. Ventana Research recently published a review of Oracle’s latest attempt into Mobile BI, and had some critical thoughts on the ease of use of the application.
With the dawn of the “Post PC era” (as eluded to by David Skok here) touchscreen devices have become one of the primary interfaces people look to. When using an iPad, or Android tablet it’s easy to navigate around and call out various functions. Unfortunately, even though we have begun to see some mobile experiences for Business Intelligence the same ‘ease of use’ does not generally hold true.
Why is this so important?
People want to use devices and software that is easy. When I was a Product Manager at a Medical Device company a chief Anesthesiologist once told me “I don’t want to use a monitor that makes me feel stupid”, in much the same way I think this also goes for Business Intelligence.
As Business Intelligence enters an era where it extends beyond business analysts, and I.T, and directly delivers insight to the business person it will be a new tool in the arsenal. Data democratization will deliver information to individuals that once did not have it and when business users need to be able to use these tools the learning curve needs to be as easy as possible. When using a new iOS application for the first time, it’s intuitive for some users to attempt zooming in/out, utilizing gestures (multi-finger swiping, etc), holding the screen for additional context menus and more. While these can all be great additions for an application if designed into the application in a sensible way, many current tools not only do not support this – but make confusing work of the user interface and require lengthy settings and configuration. New users of Business Intelligence will likely try it for the first on a mobile device, and it’s up to us to ensure their experience is the best it can be.
Design to a role, but incorporate different scenarios within that role
User interface design and user experience is generally based on roles or persona’s. In the not-so-distant past I’m sure this was mainly designed for IT and Business Analyst professionals who had the technical understanding of SQL and various methodologies to get the information needed. However, as the target user shifts we must also account for the different environments that they may be in. A great example of this is a business professional. One day they may be in the office and using a mobile BI solution at their desk or while walking through the hallway. The next the same individual may be running through the airport trying to catch a flight. A user experience that does not make it difficult in either of these scenario’s, but delivers all of the right information is the holy grail that mobile BI companies are aiming for.
What are we doing to ensure a great user experience?
At trendslide we’re building our application with the end user in mind, and as such designing interfaces and settings that make it easy for any user to understand. The ability to get trend analysis and a quick pulse on your business via trendslide can be done in 10 seconds flat and regardless of whether your strolling through the office or running through an airport. Download trendslide today to see our unique and intuitive business interface.