Let’s stop pretending looks don’t matter (in BI)

We teach our kids that looks shouldn’t matter, that it’s what’s inside that counts. And that’s exactly the same as what analysts will tell you about BI. They’ll tell you that BI is all about the functionality and it doesn’t matter what it looks like.

But they’re wrong. Sometimes looks DO matter.


Analyst feedback on Yellowfin 7.3


When our own 7.3 release came out late last year, the industry analysts were quick to rave about the back end. They were really excited about the data preparation components but utterly dismissive of the design functionality that came with the canvas changes that we made. They just didn’t see that as a value-add.

Our customers and partners on the other hand couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about those canvas updates.

Of course the back end functionality is important – it’s a given that we will provide fantastic, customizable tools for experts to use. We know how much those guys like a cool analytic widget. But end user adoption is vital to keep this industry growing, so we spend a lot of time thinking about this as well. Ultimately, this is why we’re so focused on design.


The user experience is what drives adoption


For example what Seek have done with the Yellowfin platform is a great example. They’ve done a phenomenal job on design. They could have delivered exactly the same outcome and make it hideously ugly. But Seek chose to make it attractive and simple, because they understand that user adoption matters.

And that, I’ll argue until I’m blue in the face, is what’s important: driving user adoption. Not the fact that you can filter by some special little widget or produce an outcome via six different paths, but that people are engaged and take action based on the data you have provided them.

That’s where I fundamentally disagree and will continue to disagree with the analyst community. At Yellowfin, we are fully committed to building the best platform to deliver stunning content that engages users.

We understand that for our customers and partners to be super successful, to get stickiness with their customers, to keep their users using the products that they build, they need design flexibility.

I get where the analyst view of the world is muddied, because they spend so much time comparing feature sets. It’s easy to compare the latest analytic widgets or data governance functionality. But a great analytic application is about more than just functionality. It’s about creating an environment that people want to use and keep coming back to.

It’s not just about delivering a number, it’s delivering a customer experience, and it’s increasing their customer stickiness. It’s the totality of the experience that people love. And that’s why design and usability are so critical.


Harsh lessons in the real world – looks matter


We’ve seen companies that have had an amazing, brilliant technical product with an ugly, clunky interface and people just dumped it for the prettier product (a good current example in B2B software is Slack). Customers never gave the ugly tech a chance. Harsh, but just a fact of the world we live in.

So what are we doing to help our users deliver more beautiful analytics? Over the next few months we are going to get far more proactive in Yellowfin university courses to help people think about design, what looks good, how to build an analytic app that drives engagement.

We already have the highest user adoption rate in the industry, which means we must be doing something right. But we also know there’s plenty more to do – so watch this space.