Want Software Product Success? Narrow the gap between the User and Technology!

Guess what’s the #1 Business Intelligence Tool in the world is?

Oracle BI?

Microsoft BI?

Informatica? Cognos?

None of the above! The ugly and the real truth is that the #1 Business Intelligence tool in the world today is…..

…… The Spreadsheet!

Yes! The lowly spreadsheet is the most used BI tool in the world, including every Indian IT company that we have come in contact with.

Companies invest millions of dollars (or rupees) on expensive Data Warehousing and BI tools but secretly everybody is using spreadsheets to download the data from these data sources into spreadsheets and doing their own Business Intelligence!

The simple secret is that the lowly spreadsheet bridges the last mile gap between the USER AND THE TECHNOLOGY!

The formalism is very simple – you, as the user can get very far by doing your own programming, as long as it is something simple, with formulas and macros!

Now with support for Pivot tables,  they allow this self-programming to go even farther than that! You can drill-down and see how composite numbers are made of simpler numbers!

That’s the real secret of software product innovation. Bridge that last mile gap between the user and the technology and you have a winner!

I have personal experience with this!

BPO and Call Centers in India were struggling with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and SLAs. Clients in the US and Europe write BPO and Call Center contracts with Incentives for meeting SLAs with KPIs and penalties for not meeting them!

There you go – if your product is directly tied to money, you have a winner already!

If your Average Handling Time for a call is within 3 minutes you get an additional incentive. If not your total payment got a penalty deducted from it. If your Customer Satisfaction Index average for a process is less than 3.0 on a scale of 1  to 5, you got a penalty. If it is more, you got an incentive!

Every large BPO company had anywhere from 1 to 20 clients, each client has 1 to 20 processes, each process had about 5 to 20 KPIs, each KPI was calculated with about 2 or 3 pieces of information.

That was a lot of information to process, more so, when the information came from backend databases, excel spreadsheets and just simple text information reports or CSV file extracts from clients’ systems in the US and Europe.

So we built an ETL framework that handled inputs from may different sources, we used Microsoft SQL servers, built automated tools that built data cubes automatically and populated them automatically using MDX queries. Drill-down Queries got translated into MDX queries automatically.

When you queried stuff or imported raw data , we built tools that were friendly with Excel spreadsheets, allowed export/import, since we knew that was the most popular mechanism used.

Yes. we were successful in selling enterprise licenses to Indian companies that were trying to find a comprehensive solution for this problem for a long time.

We bridged the gap between the user and the technology and were successful!

That’s always the secret, whatever your passion is, software product innovation for the consumer or business!

Figure out what that gap is , between the user and the technology, and bridge it, you have a winner!