I’ll begin by admitting that this new business intelligence vendor’s name isn’t really “Lazysoft”, but it’s close. I took the liberty of transposing two of the letters in the name “Lyzasoft” to create a name that describes a fundamental problem with its software—it’s the product of laziness. Some software engineers no doubt had lots of fun developing this product, but Lyzasoft approached the task in the typically lazy manner of many software companies—they didn’t bother engaging the services of designers who actually understand data visualization or data analysis. What does the software supposedly do? Here’s what the press release states:
On September 22, 2008 Lyzasoft will introduce Lyza, a powerful desktop analytics solution that enables analysts to synthesize, explore and visualize data, then to publish compelling presentations and dashboards – all without the reliance on lengthy IT development cycles.
I won’t comment on Lyza’s ability to synthesize data, because this can’t be judged without actually putting the product to the test. I will say, however, that it fails miserably in its ability to help people explore, visualize and then present data. It allows you to create individual charts from a small gallery of chart types that appear to possess only primitive functionality. No real platform for data exploration or analysis is provided. Once you think that you understand the data after looking independently at a few charts, you can then place them into a Lyza’s presentation format, which is designed to look and function a lot like PowerPoint. Unfortunately, it falls prey to the worst of PowerPoint with a host of silly and distracting visual themes. What Lyzasoft calls a dashboard is actually nothing more than a series of PowerPoint-like slides.
Rather than giving this new product any attention beyond this brief warning to stay away from it, I’ll end with two screenshots from Lyzasoft’s promotional demo, which illustrate how little these folks know about data analysis and visualization.
Here’s a table, which, as you can see, fails in one of the most rudimentary ways: the numbers are left justified. The only other example of a table that appeared in the demo was different, but no better, for its numbers were centered. At no point in the demo were the numbers right-justified so the values in a column can be easily compared.
Next, you can see an example of what it looks like when you create presentation slides in Lyza. Notice the eye-catching background pattern and the unreadable title—a fitting backdrop for a bad pie chart.
I guess the advantage Lyzasoft is featuring here is the ability to create really bad slide presentations in a single tool, thereby skipping the labor-intensive step of copying and pasting graphs from Excel to Powerpoint. No doubt you’ll find this feature alone enough to make you want to rush out and pay $899 for a copy of Lyza.
I hope that people who buy data analysis and presentation software have learned enough about what’s actually useful to recognize a product like Lyza for what it is—someone’s attempt to make big bucks exploiting people’s need for a way to make sense of data without taking the time to learn how to do it, let alone build a product that supports the process.