Design and fun will save Business Intelligence!

With the distance conferred by my 20 years’ observation of the Business Intelligence sector, today I find myself facing a fact which has become increasingly clear over the last few months: penetration rates for BI in corporations are at a standstill! Is the market totally saturated? I don’t believe that for a second. Today in an era of usage consumerization, users want attractive applications in the professional sphere too. Wouldn’t one of the solutions to extract BI from this dead end be to make dedicated applications more design-focused and fun?


While everybody agrees that tablets and smartphones have truly revolutionized access - and especially the link to information and its use- it’s obvious that most current BI software vendors have not yet fully taken into account  the impact which new technology and uses thereof have on decision-support tool users within corporations.

The question which is being raised is simple: what extra benefit does a smartphone or a tactile tablet bring versus a traditional computer?

The answer is to be found in the very nature of these mobile terminals and their various micro-applications.

Firstly, in tactile use. No more need for peripherals which come between the hand and the screen: from now on we touch what we look at: simply sliding our fingers to browse. Tactile tablets have brought a new ‘user experience ‘which is natural and intuitive, a direct user- information interaction mode

Secondly, on graphic codes which have been totally up-ended with the introduction of attractively-designed micro-applications where fun is ever-present.

Even if we don’t really do much more with a smartphone or tactile tablet than with a computer, the way in which we do it is so different that it changes the whole experience!

To attract and maintain the engagement of current BI users, we must therefore quickly re-introduce solution features which are more fun and cutting-edge (those which can be found in video games or Serious games, to name but a few).At the risk of being abandoned, it is urgent to adapt to users who, in just a few years, have become ever more demanding and who expect applications which suit them and win them over right from the start.

The evidence is there: it’s this intelligent adaption to usage which led to the success of EIS (Executive Information systems) at the end of the eighties. This was embodied by;

  • A revolution in design: at a time when only mainframes with monochrome 3270, or green PCs screen existed, EIS revolutionized user interfaces by offering the possibility of creating color graphics on PCs well before the arrival of Windows.
  • A revolution in user interfaces: very quickly, several EIS offered the possibility of mixing figure tables, text in the form of comments, photos, even videos, all in a proprietary environment.
  • Already tactile : some EIS such as EIS Track enabled tactile management of decision-support applications under an OS2 environment, and also the creation of  all sorts of graphs as well as full multimedia applications (Pilot Software). Fun was there before its time, with knockout  applications already on the market!


Twenty years on, the gaming techniques, inherited of video games, collaboration and web 2.0, have contributed to accelerating user demand for more simplicity but with more multimedia features. The current revolution taking place in the retail sector to « renew the customer experience’ bears witness to this and confirms that it is time to do the same for decision-support solution users by offering them a ‘new user experience’ !


All technologies and tools are currently available to renew the experience of BI solution users.  User friendliness, rich content, interactivity, viewing comfort, and above all the tactile screen makes the tablet the ideal support for the BI applications of tomorrow. Likewise, applications will certainly tend to faster, more practical and easier -to -use micro-applications in the near future. It’s a safe bet that the mobility conferred by micro-applications will enable the offer of a truly first class experience to attract user attention in a sustainable and renewable manner.

If BI vendors or Digital Services Corporations do not seize this opportunity, it’s sure that new vendors from the Agile BI or even the corporate video game sectors will easily fill the breach left open by the traditional actors. They will at last offer users the BI experience they are expecting and which will not fail to re-energize the Business Intelligence market.

Renaud Finaz de Villaine, CMO Micropole.