Old Tool, New Tricks — The Key to BI Modernization

Old Tool, New Tricks — The Key to BI Modernization

In Spencer Johnson’s business fable “Who moved the cheese?”, Johnson contrasts the promise of embracing change to the perils of ignoring new ideas. The success of the book and its impact on pop culture resonates even today; its lessons used by CXOs to exhort change and motivate employees. This type of thinking is often contrary to how IT teams approach projects. Their focus is on managing scope aka limiting change, minimizing expectations and mitigating risk. Managing this natural tension between stakeholders who clamor for change and those who want to minimize risk is a key success factor in modern IT management.

In the context of business intelligence, teams face the same dilemma in evaluating traditional BI tools relative to emerging technologies. Well-established tools such as Tableau, Qlik, et al have been on the market for almost two decades: Qlik was founded in 1993 and Tableau was founded in 2003. These firms have a track record of reliability and are supported by a robust ecosystem of implementation partners. On the flip side, the products are too entrenched to offer radically new capabilities.

As an example, let’s say business want analytics that’s as simple and accessible as a google-search. They will then look for an emerging technology such as ThoughtSpot that provides the capability that’s missing from a tool such as a Tableau. But, IT will evaluate ThoughtSpot in the context of their existing Tableau infrastructure. Instead of replicating all of the existing Tableau objects in ThoughtSpot, the consensus usually lands on using ThoughtSpot as a supplemental tool that addresses some niche use cases. In the end, the promise of search-based analytics becomes limited and serves as a novelty that doesn’t scale.

Search is just the beginning. Infinity can make traditional BI tools work smarter in a variety of ways:

  1. Natural language generation to augment charts with commentary
  2. Drill downs across multiple Tableau charts to drive logical workflows
  3. Forms integration — capture user input to enrich institutional knowledge