When a user of a BI application complains about the application not being useful - something that I hear way too often - what does that really mean? I can count at least 11 possible meanings, and potential reasons:

1. The data is not there, because

  • It's not in any operational sources, in which case the organization needs to implement a new app, a new process or get that data from an outside source
  • It is in an operational source, but not accessible via the BI application.

The data is there, but

2. It's not usable as is, because

  • There are no common definitions, common metadata
  • The data is of poor quality
  • The data model is wrong, or out of date

3. I can't find it, because I

  • Can't find the right report
  • Can't find the right metadata
  • Can't find the data
  • I don't have access rights to the data I am looking for

4. I don't know how to use my application, because I

  • Was not trained
  • Was trained, but the application is not intuitive, user friendly enough

5. I can't/don't have time do it myself - because I just need to run my business, not do BI !!! - and

  • I don't have support staff
  • I am low on IT priority list

6. It takes too long to

  • Create a report/query
  • Run/execute a report/query

7. I need to report/analyze on something that SQL can't do, such as

  • Faceted search
  • SQL on data with uneven, unbalanced, ragged, recursive hierarchies

8. It's a wrong BI application

  • I have strategic decisions to make, but the app is designed for operational decisions, or
  • I have operational decisions to make, but the app is designed for strategic decisions

9. The app is not integrated with other applications, processes or desktop so

  • I loose context
  • Have to switch apps, cut & paste
  • Don't know how to act on the info that I find

And my personal favorites
10. I don’t know what I am looking for, but my application is asking to

  • Run a specific report
  • Pick specific facts and dimensions

So I don't know where to start.
11. The app stops short of helping me, directing me to make the actual decision, even if I know how to use the app, have access to the right data, and can find what I am looking for. It's a loooooong way between finding the right info and actually make a decision based on the info.

What did I miss?

Boris also blogs at http://blogs.forrester.com/business_process/.