Mobile Is NOT the Answer to the Broken Promises of Business Intelligence

Businessman using tablet computerIn a recent article, CMSWire touted the mobile functionality of the Salesforce Analytics Cloud, powered by the Wave platform, detailing how Salesforce is enabling analytics on the go. Since the article started out being about the “broken promises” of business intelligence, it can lead one to believe that being mobile fixes what ails us and leads to the democratization of data we need.

Not so fast. While mobile is interesting and convenient–and there’s admittedly a certain “wow” factor to the whole idea of digging into data while waiting in line for your espresso at your local coffee stand–simply making email analytics mobile friendly doesn’t solve the biggest challenge of business intelligence: being able to analyze and interpret the reports.

The democratization of data?
Although business intelligence (BI) tools promise to put data into everyone’s hands, it’s not democratized if it’s not accessible and meaningful to anyone who needs to make data-based decisions. Until anyone who needs to can make sense of the email analytics before them, we still haven’t done our job of democratizing data. Simply making these tools “perform” better on mobile devices isn’t the answer.

Not that BI tools haven’t taken a huge step in this direction with the way the data is represented, because they have. Business intelligence is easier to use now, allowing us to not only interpret information, but also to identify new patterns, segments and trends, both good and bad. However, there’s still room for improvement.

In order to make our email analytics tool eMVision as visual and easy to read as possible, we built the tool on Tableau Software. Doing so gave us powerful visuals from the get go, but even with Tableau’s amazing graphical representations of data, we find training is necessary to get the most out of the tool—in part because you have to first know how best to use the tool.

Not everyone can drive this bus
Which brings us to another issue: having the right person to do this. Just because you put the BI tools on a smart phone doesn’t mean they’re helpful. The tool is only as useful as the person using the reports. As our CTO Cameron Kane just pointed out in a post at EmailVendorSelection.com, “Giving [marketers] email analytics tools without teaching them how to use those tools is akin to handing someone a fishing pole and not teaching them how to fish. They will likely figure something out, but they won’t necessarily use the tool to its fullest extent.”

Looking forward to the analytics of tomorrow
Just because we build it doesn’t mean they’ll come, and just because it’s there doesn’t mean they’ll use it. Marketers must be trained on the email analytics tools of today, whether they’re viewing those analytics on a big screen or a little one. They also need to know how to recognize things they might not have even known to look for, because part of the benefit of email analytics is uncovering trends or segments that aren’t otherwise visible. If they don’t even know which questions to ask, what difference will the answers make?

Looking forward, I hope the email analytics tools of tomorrow will be so intuitive and easy to use—not only to find what we’re looking for, but making it easier to spot opportunities we didn’t even know existed too—that mobile will be the big deal. But for now, seeing it on desktop or mobile, to me, is a convenience factor but not a big deal at all.