I’m fed up with “end-users” – the term, that is. I simply don’t believe they exist. Perhaps more accurately, I don’t suppose they exist anymore.
At one time, data management, reporting and analytics required specific technical skills. Even publishing content on the corporate network was a specialized skill. Back then, I can imagine there were users who were indeed at the end of something. They may have been the end receivers of a process of corporate intelligence with no technology to take it further. Or they may have been at the end of a chain of custody of data with no means to refine or distribute it further.
Collaboration was round the water cooler. Further analysis meant clumsy downloads to Excel. At the Gartner BI Summit in LA last week, Rita Sallam described how traditional BI tools often become “expensive ETL systems for exporting to Excel.”
These days should be gone. Today no user is the end of anything. Every user is the start of something new.
At the very least, with social networking and collaboration technologies (whether endorsed by IT or not) any user can start a managed, analyzable thread of discussion on the data or reports they receive. If you are not enabling, managing and analyzing those threads, you are ignoring a prime source of knowledge in your business.More powerfully, with Business Discovery tools such as QlikView, any user can begin a new thread of analysis – refining, supplementing, and remixing their received corporate intelligence. Our new enterprises are not centralized point-to-point systems. Rather, each user is a node in a network, with all the flexibility and strength (and yes, redundancy) that networks have.
Our businesses are the better for it. Our users can be more engaged, and more informed. Our IT departments try not to solve every analytic problem, but instead provision the data and services that keep the network humming with intelligence.
So don’t talk to me about end-users. I don’t think they exist, except perhaps in small isolated pockets of dysfunctional organizations. I don’t even think they should exist. Let’s see an end of them.