Bellwether Magazine – Winter 2013 issue
“Less is more”: it’s easier said than done. And in the world of analytics and BI is no different.
Steve Jobs transformed a somewhat barely known concept from 1855 into a hugely influential “philosophy of everything”, applicable to everything from computer design, to life itself and to business.
The concept appears to be quite simple: “less” = focus on what really matters; “more” = and you’ll actually get more of whatever you first intended or desired, such as more value, or more happiness.
However, “less is more” is in reality an incredibly difficult standard to consistently adhere to. People who have effectively embrace simplicity as a way of life often embrace several common, yet key elements: a holistic understanding of what needs to be done, what options are available to perform whatever the task may be, as well as what benefits may be in store for all interested parties. At the end of the day, it boils down to correctly understanding what ultimately defines what is indeed “less” and “more”.
And it gets complicated before it gets simple. In the quest to reach a true understanding of simplicity, complexity often arises at first; more variables are then introduced, and provided you have the right mindset in place, a simple, minimalist solution can emerge. Usually such highly creative work takes time and hard work, but the results are well worth the investment!
The calm we see on the surface hints that things are simple, yet behind that scene exists an infrastructure of ideas and unknown complexity that in many cases must exist, in order to preserve a simplicity to the eye of the beholder.
We’ve seen huge improvements in a variety of ways as a result of having applied ‘less is more’ in the technology realm. For instance, my mom, by her late 70s, had never touched a computer keyboard. But now, she uses Skype to videoconference with family members! She’s also engaged with friends and family on Facebook, something that she used to roll her eyes to whenever us kids brought it up. She has challenges keeping track of her groceries expenses, but now that she’s using a tablet, I’m sure she’ll find the right app.
In the business world, many technology vendors are also taking great strides towards the application of ‘less is more’. Nowhere is this more evident than among providers if reporting and data analysis support. If you were using one of the mid-market ERP or CRM systems ten years ago, it’s very likely that you’d either be making decisions based on limited “canned” reports. If not, you were expending a great deal of time and money asking highly specialized consultants to slice and dice your data to a format that actually provided some value. Given the pace of business many years ago, such a lag may have been acceptable; not any more.
Fortunately, nowadays there are Analytics and BI solutions that are really taking the ‘less is more’ approach to new levels. Take DataSelf Analytics for instance, which claims to simplify and amplify best-of-breed analytics for mid-size companies. Wait? Isn’t that exclusive to the big consulting companies? Well, not anymore. The company’s vision is to combine upper market BI solutions to fit the needs of mid-market budgets and business requirements. DataSelf’s approach is to simplify implementation, deployment, and maintenance – the ‘less’ focus – by removing programming from such systems; and then amplify them – the ‘more’ focus – by adding over 2,000 reports, dashboards and KPIs out of the box, plus expertise of over 14 years working with BI for companies using mid-market ERP and CRM systems. According to the Feb-2014 edition of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics, DataSelf is sure using best of breed components. Their solutions are powered by Tableau which is the leader in ease of use and dashboarding technology, and an ultralight data warehouse powered by Microsoft who is the leader in BI infrastructure.
DataSelf even claims that their clients’ business users take care of more than 70% of their own reporting needs anytime and anywhere with no IT assistance.
Heck, thinking about my mom’s grocery shopping challenges, I think I should introduce her DataSelf Analytics.