Which Way Business Intelligence? by Howard Dresner

By Ellie Fields 2011/10/19

Notes from Tableau software engineer David Dunham (@radiofreelunch) on Howard Dresner's talk at #TCC11.

BI thought leader Howard Dresner spoke at the Tableau Customer Conference today. As @howarddresner he holds a weekly #BIWisdom tweet chat which you can check out on Fridays for more from him.

Howard began by saying that fewer BI systems are being deployed by IT. In North America, the majority are now user-deployed. People are now using more different tools and users are in the driver's seat. Governance is needed to ensure optimal value from BI investments. Basically, IT and business users need to get aligned!

On mobile: Mobile is probably increasing in priority, but "remember predictions aren't facts." Executives love the iPad and they actually get it (unlike the early days of PC). BI is the #3 use of tablets now, and mobile BI is not a fad. "Operational BI is low-hanging fruit" for mobile.

On collaboration: Do you have a collaborative culture? The best technology in the world won't help unless you do.

On usage across the enterprise: Human Resources gets the least amount of money for BI, which is why there are so many cloud solutions for HR surveys.

Howard recently did a big survey of BI users across 32 vendor dimensions. Tableau was in first place in the Emerging category. The spider chart showed that in just about every dimension, Tableau beat its peers. Customization & extensibility were weak areas.

Tableau's spider chart from Howard Desner's recent BI study.

Howard concluded that with the user in the driver's seat, BI is expanding. But companies need to elevate BI to strategic level within an organization. Establishing a BI competency center can help with that.


Submitted by Andrew (not verified) on

Every decision in a business is made on past data and past records and on this issue Business Intelligence Software helps a lot by analyzing and classifying data and information.

Submitted by chris.gerrard (not verified) on

Using a better visualization than a spider chart would seem to be within the skill set of a BI thought leader.

Submitted by Jefferson (not verified) on

My thoughts as well, Chris. Mike Moore discussed a similar point on his blog, Data Intuition. He has a tutorial for using Tableau to comparing multiple categories across several measures with the CAN Graph. http://dataintuition.blogspot.com/2011/12/taking-radar-chart-off-map.html

(Mike is also the creator of the Dashboard Insight's "Best Dashboard of 2011". http://www.tableausoftware.com/about/blog/2011/12/dashboard-insights-best-dashboard-2011)

Submitted by chris.gerrard (not verified) on

Hi Jefferson. I'm no longer depressed by the poor quality of what passes for exemplary data visualizations. One of the reasons I like Tableau so much is its passionate embrace of the philosophy of making excellence easy and putting dreck in its place.

You might be interested on my improvements to Mike's best dashboard of 2011, at: http://betterbi.biz/ImprovingTheBestDashboardOf2011.html

I'm also familiar with Mike's blog post, and commented on it some time back.