The Music—And the Drummer
Back when I was 14, a friend of mine showed me how to string three chords together to play “Wild Thing” on the guitar. Soon after that life-altering experience I dropped $40 on a cheap, vintage hollow body with a faded sunburst finish, borrowed a book of sheet music for Metallica’s “…And Justice For All” album, and began my foray into the world of heavy metal guitar.
After shredding through that first book of Metallica sheet music I sought new material. My network of guitar-playing friends was good about sharing but borrowed access to books and magazines could be fleeting (i.e., the duration of 4th period English class). Copying sheet music by hand with pencil and paper was our usual modus operandi.
Forming bands led to recording demos but booking time at a recording studio was expensive beyond our wildest dreams. Home recording equipment was rare and low quality. Stretching the capacity of your average 4-track recorder required ping-ponging and recording drums was a quixotic task. Then there were the drummers themselves. Skilled drummers were hard to find and therefore prone to diva-like behavior. Practice was usually held in their garage and that meant no practice when their mom had a headache. Drummers were the bottleneck.
A GarageBand Internet Revolution
Today every Mac comes with GarageBand and a simple web search for guitar sheet music yields millions of results. GarageBand has simplified the complexity a recording studio and put it into the hands of the masses. Unlimited tracks meant no more ping-ponging. Plug a guitar directly into your Mac and you had access to a plethora of virtual guitar amps and effects. GarageBand’s massive library of samples and loops provide the option of going solo. No more diva drummers!
The same revolution is happening now with business intelligence—but it’s not happening fast enough. Businesses everywhere are still copying stats into spreadsheets by hand. They’re operating off of proprietary BI systems that are expensive and clunky. And organizations everywhere have a “drummer,” someone with a monopoly on the data and a diva attitude to set your teeth on edge.
From my perspective where I deal with user experience and design every day, I think that we need a new set of expectations. The nexus of a tech revolution in BI isn’t a paradigm shift from “no technology” to “technology”—I daresay we crossed that threshold back in 1984.
Instead, this BI revolution requires new expectations. Business professionals need to go from accepting clunky user experiences to demanding streamlined access to data; they need to stop listening to poor excuses about why they can’t get a solid mobile app for their BI dashboards; and they need to make data accessible at all levels of the organization rather than to a select few (I’m lookin’ at you, drummers).
It’s actually a harder change to make, in my opinion. Going from “nothing” to “something” is easier, because there are clear and evident differences. But when we are changing an already-accepted technology, it’s easier to sit entrenched in your own status quo. “Things are working well enough, so don’t rock the boat,” or so the saying goes. But it’s not working well enough. Just like copying sheet music by hand was horribly inefficient—and frankly, often illegible—hand-cranking out reports is a massive waste of time when BI has progressed as far as it now has.
I often think about what could have been had my teenage self been given access to the tools of today. My passion for metal guitar gradually gave way to design as I sought out a career that provided rock star status (*ahem) without the grind of touring.
As a product designer at Domo I have been charged to design interfaces that reduce complexity. In that sense I see Domo as the GarageBand of business intelligence. We are taking complex processes and simplifying them down to a level that lets you concentrate on what is really important: analyzing your data to make better decisions.
Check It Out
So what antiquated practices does your company have with its data? Are you still “copying by hand” because you have not found a better way? Is your company’s “drummer” causing undue stress due to weirdness? Schedule a demo with a Domo rep and let us blow your mind. Firing the drummer is up to you.