Melbourne, Australia-based Yellowfin, a provider of business intelligence (BI) software, claims the latest version of its BI platform offers a unique collaborative framework that will help business users and data analysts produce better business insights.

With the release of Yellowfin version 7.2 today, the company introduces a new Business Analytics Workflow. 

It provides a path and process for business users to directly connect with the BI and data experts in their organization, to raise trackable tasks and data quality issues, brainstorm ideas, collectively review content and take better, faster data-driven action, the company explained.

It also enhances technical capabilities in two other core areas, including:

  • An open API connector framework that enables users to connect to, visualize and act on data from any third-party web-based application
  • Improved forecasting and trend analysis that boosts predictive capabilities for faster data analysis

Yellowfin CEO and co-founder Glen Rabie told CMSWire the main focus in this release has been to unite the business user and analyst workflows, which have historically been treated separately. 

As a result, Rabie said, most platform try to force business users to become data analysts — a reality he described as one of the biggest failings in the industry.

“Being an analyst is a specialized skill. You don’t want an air steward flying your plane, nor should you have revenue generating people like your senior sales people writing reports,” he said.

Better Analytics

Glen Rabie
Rabie said the platform upgrades give analytics uses the ability to place the entire data-driven decision-making process in the BI platform.

“One of the major elements that we care about is user adoption of our product. The average adoption rate for BI applications across the industry is less than 20 percent — a huge risk to an organization that invests in a BI solution,” he said. 

“Our vision is for our customers to have 100 percent adoption rates.”

To make this happen, he said, you have to make users front and center in the workflow. "They need to be the ones that drive new content development. And so for us, this is done via tasks and making the user interface as intuitive as possible.

To achieve higher user adoption, business intelligence solutions need to "curate," he continued. That means they need to be:

  • Consistent: Governed, centralized and managed
  • Usable: by any business to consume analytics
  • Relevant: connected to all the data users need to do their jobs well
  • Accurate: data quality is paramount
  • Timely: Provide real time data and agile content development
  • Engaging: Offer a social or collaborative component
  • Deployed: widely across the organization

“It’s a bit of marketing speak, but it helps to focus the mind on the problems at hand. We think with v7.2 we have created a platform to do just that, and this is what is going to drive higher adoption rates,” he added.

BI ‘Groundhog Day’

Ease of use and wider adoption is not just a problem for Yellowfin, but for the industry as a whole.

Rabie points out that there is considerable discussion about the modern BI platform that is focusing now on data visualization and data discovery. This is reflected in the changing definition for the Gartner BI quadrant and is pushing a lot of vendors toward more self-service options.

“But I think this is still going over old ground. It’s a bit like a groundhog day — different vendors but the same topic that has been touted for over 20 years and adoptions rates are still the same,” he said.

“Unless the industry takes a risk and tries a radically different approach to delivering BI to business users we will see the same outcomes for organizations: low user adoption and failed BI projects. There is still a lot of work to do to achieve our vision.

"But we have a solid road map that will continue to make it easier for business users to connect with their data, either by conducting simple stripped down analysis or via highly engaging dashboards."

David Norris, an associate analyst at London-based Bloor Research, called Yellowfin’s approach "very interesting."

Other BI vendors have tried to push data preparation and analysis responsibilities onto business users “because it’s easier to adapt what they have to fulfill that goal." But Yellowfin "isn’t a BI tool attempting to make the business user a techie. It is about presenting data to users in an attractive visual representation, backed-up with some of the most sophisticated collaboration tools embedded into a BI platform on the market.”