Business intelligence adoption remains low in many companies - even if it's used at all. There are many reasons for this. Certainly the high initial cost of a traditional on premise installation can be a big barrier to adoption for all but the largest organizations. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions can help to address that barrier with their pay-as-you-go fee structure.
A second barrier is that existing solutions are often just too hard for the average business manager to use. In today's attention starved economy, it's more important than ever for BI and analytics to provide ready access to insight. Few managers have the time to learn how to use something that's not of obvious benefit. Simply put, I'm not sure anybody has any time to learn anything these days. Consequently, the value of using an analytics solution should be immediately obvious. In addition, how managers can interact with analytics to gain further insight or understanding must be as intuitive as possible.
For this reason, BI solutions that incorporate some type of infographic may have a strong role in the future. Infographics have become a staple for technology marketers over the last couple of years. For good reason - a well-designed infographic can make information immediately comprehensible and consumable. Something that, despite roughly 40 years of evolution, some BI solutions still fail to do.
I've talked to two vendors in the last couple of weeks that are addressing both the cost and comprehension issues. Strictly speaking, VisualCue doesn't use infographics, but does take an interesting approach to visualization. This vendor uses collections of icons (called tiles) to simply represent the current state of the system being monitored. Different colors represent different states or conditions, while different parts of the tile represent a finer level of detail for various sub-systems. Two example tiles are shown below (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Example tiles from VisualCue
The one on the left represents the current state of facilities maintenance, while the one on the right reflects logistics performance.
The second vendor, FusionOps, specializes in supply chain analytics, primarily (though not exclusively) for SAP implementations. Like VisualCue, FusionOps is a SaaS solution, so fees are charged monthly. FusionOPs incorporates infographics to help rapid comprehension of information related to supply chain performance.