The sad truth is, most BI vendors don’t understand business intelligence, and they never will until customers demand software that really works. As long as you don’t know what you need or are easily taken in by flashy screens that provide a level of intelligence that’s geared for toddlers, the vendors will continue to crank out more and more useless drivel. It all looks the same. Most vendors determine what to do with their products based on what the other guys are doing. If the other guys are making dashboard gauges that you can hardly read because the information is obscured behind simulated glare (see below), then vendors will bust their butts to develop a new gauge that is so hidden in glare you’ll need to wear sun glasses to look at it at all.
Here’s the latest example from a newcomer called Business Gauges:
If you squint really hard, you can barely make out some of the values. But who cares, because if you’re an executive who likes to pretend that you’re driving a car while sitting at your desk rather than actually managing your business, then having a dashboard that is truly informative doesn’t really matter. According to the press release, “Business Gauges lets you monitor your business performance using hovering gauges on your desktop and centralized data sensors. Business Gauges is an agile, easy-to-use software, allowing any company or organization, of any scale, to gain the competitive advantage of using real-time business dashboard software.” Hovering gauges? Who wouldn’t be thrilled with that? Centralized data sensors? I have no idea what this means, but it definitely sounds cool. And who doesn’t want to be agile? At one point in the press release the product is called “a deviceful executive dashboard software.” Deviceful? Oh my god, I can already see the flood of competing ads claiming to have the product that is the most deviceful of them all. If you’re the type of person who can read meaningless marketing hype like this and think it actually makes sense, then this is definitely the product for you.
I’m sure that the people behind Business Gauges have the same intentions as all the other vendors out there: they’re out to make money. They’re convinced that you want your software to look like a toy, so that’s what they’re giving you. And you know what? This product will probably wind up on thousands of desktops, but the world will be poorer for it.
Don’t stand for this! Show the vendors that you actually care about getting information that is meaningful. Only one thing will put an end to the onslaught of crap that floods the business intelligence market: you must refuse to buy it. And I’m not just talking about Business Gauges; I’m talking about any product from any vendor (including the big guys) that was not developed to solve real problems in ways that actually work.