Better Together: How to Make Your BI Truly Collaborative


BI is simply best when shared.

It’s fairly useless to glean amazing data insights and then keep them all to yourself. If it’s so helpful, it needs sharing! But email is terrible. Screenshots and static reports can only go so far in telling the story. And everything gets lost in email chains anyway. Also, it’s pretty difficult to add any form of annotation to that report.

You need a BI solution that gives you all the collaboration tools you need to share insights and queries right where the data is.

BI industry thought leader Wayne Eckerson said, “Most people don’t make decisions in a vacuum; they share ideas, options, and perspectives with others. Nor do they analyze data in a vacuum, at least anomalies or variances that require further attention. When people exchange ideas on a topic, they refine each other’s knowledge, fill in missing gaps, and challenge assumptions. The result is a more comprehensive understanding of a situation and a better course of action.”

Don’t you want a more comprehensive understanding of a situation and a better course of action? Of course you do. So here’s our guide to bringing true collaboration to your BI.


Bring discussion to the data, not the other way around

You’ve spotted an outlier and don’t know why it has occurred. You’ve noticed some data is missing and you’d like to ask the analyst why that is. You think this report could change the business decision you were about to make and you want to know others’ opinions.

In these scenarios, how do you collaborate? Email a screenshot? Use instant messaging?

The problem is that you’re having to move away from the report, dashboard and data to talk about and discuss it. It’s not ideal.


Keep track

But the most infuriating thing about discussing data is the endless email and instant chat chains that are difficult to keep track of. Somebody forgets to reply all. You don’t know which point on the report the other person is referring to so you switch back and forth between messaging and your BI tool with more screenshots and crude highlighting on images.

What if you could simply open a chat within your BI tool, and start a discussion right next to the report or dashboard? With the right platform, you can! And you can have a Facebook-like timeline in your BI platform. There you can see all of the latest comments and threads as they happen whenever a new message is sent to a discussion you’re subscribed to or when you are mentioned in a post.

That way, there aren’t multiple email or instant chat threads that relate to reports you can’t even see. Everything is in one place. Your discussion is right where your data is.



Imagine chatting next to the report and being able to easily add annotations, comments and attachments that everyone in the chat can see. You can circle the outlier. You can attach a link to an external event that might have triggered the outlier. You can add notes and flags to the report to leave an explanation for the next viewer.

Do you see the beauty of this? You don’t need to leave your data behind to discuss it. You can add rich context and meaning to the data right within your platform. That’s the heart of fruitful collaboration.


Share your insights, live

You know that these insights, rich with context, are only useful if they’re shared and used. A detailed report or best practice dashboard is useless unless it is being used to make data-driven business decisions. So you need to share your insights.

Again, screenshots only serve the most basic purpose. So what if you could share a live report that is interactive and can be drilled into?



With Yellowfin, you get a YouTube-style embeddable widget that allows you to do just that. It allows you to deliver the reports just as they should be – interactive. This works on any Web-based platform. Distribute your insights across platforms whenever and wherever BI content is needed for discussion and decision-making. This lets you include those who don’t have access to Yellowfin to participate in the discussion.

Embed your reports into your blogs or web reports. Check out some interactive reports here. Simply click the chart symbols in the top right of the reports or slide the timeline.

Now you can share your knowledge, insights and real data with the wider world.



One of the best uses of live reports is in those end-of-month presentations. Can you imagine the incredible time-saver it would be if you created one slide deck with all the correct reports and those reports were live? It would give you up-to-the-minute data in your presentation. You wouldn’t need to re-do your slide deck each month. Simply adjust the points you were going to make (and the name of the month on the first slide!). Forget to prepare a slide that answers your manager’s question? No worries, just drill into your data straight from your presentation. Simple.

That is Storyboard. It’s a Yellowfin feature that allows you to deliver presentations straight from the platform so you never miss a data point.


You can have it all

True collaboration comes from collaborating where the data is. It’s sharing knowledge across teams and departments, adding context to reports, enriching the insights and sharing those with the world.

With the right platform, you can have it all.

At Yellowfin, we don’t like bragging, but I think you should know that Yellowfin was mentioned in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms for providing “…leading capabilities for collaboration and social, such a timelines and discussion threads.” Yellowfin was also top ranked for collaboration by BARC for the last three years.

There are plenty of BI platforms that offer a form of collaboration. Just make sure you choose an easy, intuitive tool with inbuilt collaboration so the discussion stays with the data.

Data is only as good as it is useful for making business decisions. And it’s only useful if it can be shared and enriched.

Get the highlights of Yellowfin’s collaboration here >