Let’s start with a little brain exercise; please read the passage below, I think it will surprise you.
I bet every one of you could understand it and read it quickly and that’s because we do some pretty fantastic stuff naturally without even trying. The brain actually reads the word as a whole and not every letter. So as long as the first and last letters are the same the brain makes sense of the rest.
We do this when looking at any type of pattern because our eye actually has a bit missing. If you look at this diagram of the eye and the optic nerve, you will see that the optic nerve joins the eye at the back and at this point it has no rods or cones (photo receptors). This is in fact a blind spot and any image reflected on this point will not be transmitted back to the brain.
So the brain has to fill in the gaps, this is a totally organic process and needs no input by us. For all of the skeptics amongst you I have put a test at the end of this blog so you can see the blind spot for yourself (or hopefully not see it).
We are always on the lookout for patterns whether that’s in the tea leaves at the bottom of your cup or in the clouds in the sky. This recognition of patterns even has a name Apophenia. With very little help we are able to see natural patterns and even compensate when part of a pattern is missing.
So when we walk in to our place of work and start using software or exploring data why is so much effort put in to forcing patterns and paths of exploration upon us? Why aren’t we allowed to explore and discover naturally? Our decisions are much more organic if we are allowed to pull on our boots and make our own path, rather than being forced down a sanitized concrete path that someone else has designed and won’t allow you to “walk on the grass”. As technology catches up with our brain you will find more and more that it will reflect and not change the innate way we humans operate. After all we have been this way for thousands of years so if it isn’t broke why fix it.
So take off your shoes and get your feet muddy on a path that is less well trodden.
Test your blind spot
Over the past few months, I have seen the following quote from this year’s IDC Predictions publication.
Growing Importance of Line of Business (LOB) Executives: By 2016, 80% of new IT investments will directly involve LOB executives, with LOBs the lead decision makers in half or more of those investments.
The paper goes on to state that the most dramatic changes will happen within customer-facing front-office functions. And the focus of the recommendation appears to be that IT vendors will now have to think about the LOB as their customer.
For me, I am less interested in the impact on vendors since they will follow the money fast enough. However, I am very interested in the impact that this type of trend might have on traditional IT. Let’s take a look.
A part of this trend is simply a sign of the digitization of business. (E.g. moving from print ads to online impressions) But, it likely also includes SaaS (E.g. Sales Force) or even more “threatening” projects such as big data infrastructures to analyze click-stream data.
But is this type of project even a threat to IT? Although it might sound so at first, when you think about it, the money has never belonged to IT anyway. In healthy organization, IT has always worked with the business to help set priorities and manage spend.
In fact, to be successful in technology, you have always had to be a jack of all trades. You have to know the technology, of course, but you also have to know the business and the operations just as well as anyone else at the table. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to speak their language, ask relevant questions and proactively think about solutions that might bring the business value.
As we move into the Information Economy (from left to right), the role of IT professionals can expand, not shrink, for the rights kinds of roles.
As we move into the information economy all that is really happening is that this really cool space where the great IT people have always resided is becoming even bigger providing us with even more opportunity to add value to the business.
Being welcomed into that space, as it always has, is a matter of building trust. And to do this, IT needs to proactively deliver solutions that meet the needs of the business. In today’s information economy, a great place to start is to find a way to deliver on the long awaited promise of BI to assist the business in making data driven decisions.
Learn more about how to navigate the changing role of IT and generate stronger business partnership here.2013-09-25T21:07:00Z 1 week 2 hours ago 2 0 http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/comment/increasing-role-of-business-in-it-decision-making--threat-or-opportunity http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/feeds/comments?blogPost=3326 http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/2013/09/25/increasing-role-of-business-in-it-decision-making--threat-or-opportunity
One of the main themes for QlikView.next is Gorgeous and Genius. The Gorgeous part of this theme is not only about having a beautiful surface; it equally refers to a product that feels as good as it looks. With the next generation of QlikView our ambition is to create a user experience that supports the way people naturally approach data analysis, both when creating views of the data and when analyzing it. A very important part of this is to ensure that QlikView.next focuses on usability and by such provides a natural user experience.
So what is usability in QlikView.next?
Usability is about people being able to quickly orient themselves and find what they are looking for. It ensures people can intuitively understand what to do and how to do it in order to achieve a certain goal. People will make mistakes as part of the learning process, which is natural and expected. However, good usability means that people will learn from these mistakes quickly and do not have to repeat them when learning what to do. If they take a break from their tasks in QlikView, they should quickly remember what they have learned previously.
Usability is also about being efficient on the job. After people have learned a new task, they should be able to do that task efficiently and effectively. When working with repetitive tasks they should not be forced to do unnecessary steps as part of their workflow. It also means that any unintended mistakes due to ambiguities in the UI are minimized. If a mistake has been done, it should be easy and quick to recover from.
How do we ensure that QlikView.next focuses on usability?
QlikView.next has to be easy to use for everyone, regardless of your background or experience. Hence, we evaluate usability with people from complete novices to QlikView experts. The evaluations also cover all parts of the product: administration, modeling of data, building dashboards, data analysis, etc.
Our usability evaluations consist of observing people while they solve pre-defined business tasks in QlikView.next. The tasks are representative of what they would do in the real world, which helps ensure that the observed behaviors are relevant. During this process we also ask them to express how they perceive solving tasks in QlikView.next and how they feel about the overall experience.
During usability evaluation we observe how long time tasks take, what the participants find confusing and what errors they might make. By looking at the time a task takes, we can determine if the task is as efficient to perform as we expect it to be. If something is experienced as confusing, it gives us an indication that we need to fine-tune its implementation to help the user learn what to do. Errors indicate that we are potentially giving mixed signals in the UI and that we need to improve it to minimize any errors. At the same time we also observe what is working well and we listen to potential improvements and suggestions from the participants. When working with passionate QlikView users they always have a lot of great ideas and useful suggestions!
Usability is a critical part of QlikView.next and by continuously performing in-depth evaluations it will help us ensure that it will be as natural and easy to use as you’d expect from a new generation of QlikView.2013-09-19T08:57:14Z 1 week 7 days ago 15 0 http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/comment/qlikviewnext-gorgeous-from-the-inside-out http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/feeds/comments?blogPost=3317 http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/2013/09/19/qlikviewnext-gorgeous-from-the-inside-out
I was reading a very interesting article in the NY Times by Gary Dark from Wired Magazine called a Data Driven Life (http://nyti.ms/AsRlwR)
In the article Gary talks of how we gather personal data from so many different sources. These include what we eat, how we sleep, how much we exercise, and how we feel. This data helps us make important changes to our lifestyle such as increasing our exercise, cutting down on how much coffee we drink or making changes to our mental landscape so we feel more positive about ourselves. The power to make decisions on raw data rather than gut instinct can be very enlightening and also cast a very stark light on uncomfortable facts (maybe I shouldn’t have that second glass of wine).
I now cue the inevitable Segway in to the business world (you knew I would). We are storing all of this data about ourselves and we do a similar thing in our business but we miss out one important thing. In our business we don’t always join the dots.
So our body needs more fuel and the stomach needs filling but the brain doesn’t feel hungry or our eyes can see a tiger but can’t communicate this to our legs. Can you imagine a body where the neural pathways were non- existent? I think the human race would have been extinct a long time ago. It’s not a case of the information not being available it’s just not joined up. We live in a data rich and information poor world.
An example of this is when a company is acquired; it can take many years for the different parts of the acquired organisation to be joined up. This is due to different types of data and systems not being able to communicate, so in effect you have two pairs of arms and legs all working separately(a rather dysfunctional octopus). If only there was a Business Discovery Solution that took an agnostic view of the data and with the power of association could sort that in a few months rather than years, wouldn’t life be a lot safer?
So make sure your right hand knows what your left hand is doing, it might just help you get away from that tiger and not end up running around like a frightened octopus (no animals were harmed in the making of this blog).2013-09-06T15:24:00Z 3 weeks 5 days ago 3 0 http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/comment/am-i-hungry http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/feeds/comments?blogPost=3294 http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/2013/09/06/am-i-hungry
Recently, I was fascinated by a story reporting that the artificial intelligence (AI) in a computer game had independently identified the futility of war: a “user set up a Quake 3 server with 16 AI bots on it, and left it running in the background for four years. Because the bots learn to re-use successful tactics, he was intrigued to find out what they'd taught each other in the 35,000 hours they'd been at war... In fact, they weren't fighting at all. Instead they were standing peacefully, watching as he walked around each map… [the] bots took less than four years to discover what humanity has failed figure out in a fair few millennia.”
Sadly the story turned out to be untrue. But it started me thinking about machine and model-led decision making, and the critical importance of being able to think differently to compete effectively.
As a child I was a fan of the long-running TV sci-fi show Doctor Who (geeky, I know).
As purely logical technological beings neither side could outthink the other. They’d programmed their “battle computers” so similarly that stalemate ensued as the computers spent years failing to come up with a winning strategy. Unlike the supposed Quake 3 bots though, they didn’t simply hang up their lasers and declare peace. Nope, they looked for a source of intuition and fast original thinking to break the deadlock, by co-opting the Doctor or, in the Dalek’s case, going back to their biological roots.
Now, it may be unfair to equate SAP to the implacable, inflexible Dalek race, but if companies using ERP apps implement their battle computers business intelligence platforms starting from the same pre-defined business schema, and those top-down models are rigid enough to restrict humans’ ability to think creatively, are they really helping them compete?
I suppose it’s also unfair to compare Oracle with the soulless, unoriginal Movellans, but if you implement prebuilt BI apps on the same conformed dimensional model and use the same out-of-the-box reports as your competitors, aren’t you doomed to act within the same prescribed mind set as them?
In contrast, to help their organizations compete what decision makers really need is unfettered analytic creativity. Creativity through technology so that they can analyse, compare and anticipate beyond standard models, question assumptions and make intuitive leaps wherever the data takes them. Perhaps that’s another reason why many BI customers are looking to business discovery and QlikView for help.2013-08-22T09:48:00Z 1 month 2 weeks ago 0 http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/comment/human-discovery-vs-dalek-bi http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/feeds/comments?blogPost=3267 http://community.qlikview.com/blogs/theqlikviewblog/2013/08/22/human-discovery-vs-dalek-bi