BI Trends

Why Analytics Apps Need to be Simple AND Smart

By Charles Caldwell
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Should analytics apps be simpler or smarter? This is the question posed in a recent InformationWeek article, which outlines how some of our competitors are focusing on betting on user experience OR horse power to increase adoption.

At Logi, we think this kind of “either-or” focus is creating a false dichotomy. Embedded BI tools shouldn’t be simpler OR smarter – they should be both.

Here’s how the false dichotomy is created.

Some companies are discussing the user interface, which should be simpler. Other companies are discussing capabilities, which should be smarter. But we know clients need both.

hospital-kpi-dashboardWhile Qlik and Tableau stress “used by almost everyone,” the tools still need to be “smart” if people are going to “discover insights.” IBM’s Catalayst Engine, while super smart, still needs to deliver results “in plain English.” And even the “simple” SalesForce Wave tool requires “backend data integration work” and other “smarts” to get there.

There is no either / or here – nor should there be.

Pretty tools without capability are shelf-ware. Think of all those cool iPhone apps that don’t do anything. Download and delete. Super-smart tools without usability are geek-ware. Very few will be able to adopt them, and their overall impact will remain limited.Tool capability must meet the needs of the task at hand. Some tasks are more complex and require more smarts. No matter the task at hand, these tools are used by human beings. Some people can tolerate lower usability to gain capability, but more usable is always better as you can more quickly convey insights to a broader group of users.

Technology needs to have a high IQ and good charisma.

At Logi Analytics, we’re aiming to target the right tools to the right task for the right users. Optimize each person’s skill set and contribution to the process, and give them tools that are highly usable AND deliver the smarts to tackle the task at hand. Our product strategy is a platform plus app approach.


Originally published December 18, 2014; updated on August 9th, 2017

About the Author

Charles Caldwell is the Vice President of Product Management at Logi Analytics. Charles came to Logi Analytics with a decade of experience in data warehousing and business intelligence (BI). He has built data warehouses and reporting systems for Fortune 500 organizations, and has also developed high-quality technical teams in the BI space throughout his career. He completed his MBA at George Washington with a focus on the decision sciences and has spoken at industry conferences on topics including advanced analytics and agile BI.