Business intelligence (BI) is as much about incremental advancements as big ones that make the user’s experience richer and more versatile and allow them to present their data in the best way possible.
Along with the headline advancements in recent versions of the most innovative platforms, a number of smaller innovations have undeniably taken the user experience to a higher level.
Automated Insights and Assisted Tooltips
With the arrival of automated insights, the interpretation of reports can be enhanced. Using AI and natural language outputs of the data completely remodel the way we consume, share and interact with data. It also allows the business user to have his data analysed without having to wait for data scientist or IT.
Traditionally, tooltips were used to help clear up detail within charts by adding more information. Tooltips have now been greatly enhanced with the ability to use them together with filtering options, comparative views and automatically generated automated insights.
With added interactivity, AI further allows users to drill down, filter data and perform analysis from tooltips, without performing multiple extra steps. For ease of use, colour-coding allows easy distinction between multiple lines on a line chart. Finally, icons allow users to identify a field’s value at a glance, and customisation allows tooltips to match corporate style in their fonts, colours, spacing and icons.
One such small change is the introduction of discrete time series in addition to the classic continuous time series function, used to view data trends and patterns over time.
The latter has served companies well in planning their next moves but does not allow for viewing and sorting data over discrete time frames, independently of the running general reporting period. The discrete time series allows such flexibility in the way content creators present data to the business: should they want to reveal data over specific time blocks, e.g. quarters, they can do so.
Activity streams, as part of the collaboration process, are essential for staying up to date with actions carried out on your content and in your data ecosystem. With interactive activity streams, users don’t just get instant access to the actions that affect them or where they were tagged, they also get the power to vote, comment, sort, flag, share, and even request edits to the content in a workflow environment.
Privacy is assured with secure messages, and a task manager for dashboards, storyboards and reports gives users visibility and control over workflows.
Improved navigation to the newly enhanced activity streams is achieved with activity buttons and notification indicators, alerting users to new comments since their last access. And cleaner activity streams offer only the most relevant actions, saving users the bother of having to sift through trivial updates (such as changes made to a report by another user).
Among the most dynamic areas of development in the new generation of BI solutions is the powerful visualisations contained in their chart builders.
Modern chart building tools feature improvements that make content creators’ jobs easier with enhanced usability, customisations and control over the graphical representations of their data.
Such advancements include the ability to alter chart legends and add axis details to personalise the outcome and the facility to change the style of legends and axes, to help users deal with an over-abundance of items in your data.
And finally, modern tools let users perform basic functions (e.g. averages or trends) directly on advanced functions (e.g. variance or set analysis) on chart axes, saving you time.
These and other incremental advances are what keeps innovation alive in a maturing BI landscape. Make sure your vendor keeps you out front with competitive insights that are easy to consume, convey and execute!
By Gustav Piater, sales & marketing director, AIGS (Yellowfin BI South Africa)