Getting data into transactional systems today is a relatively easy and straight-forward process. Most systems have reasonably user-friendly interfaces that support efficient and practical information input. Users can enter information into their systems, click “submit” or “save” and then rest assured that their data is stored in the system for the overall good and prosperity of their organization.
So why is getting data out of these systems, like SAP or CA Clarity, so difficult?
Having led an enterprise software development organization, it’s apparent to me that many software vendors place little emphasis on data output. The pressure to speed to market new releases that differentiate and propel their product ahead of the competition is by far a greater priority than providing customers with an easy way to get data out of their system.
Many ERP or PPM systems come with a collection of out-of-the-box reports and tools that make a lackadaisical effort to live up to the promise of letting users view information in the different ways they need to see it. This is where many software vendors fall short, some by design and some under increased pressure to deliver new versions of their products in an ever-shorter timeline. To many software vendors, getting data out in a meaningful and useful way will always be trumped by the desire to increase profits via professional services agreements upon complex, meandering data models.
To make matters worse, many customers don’t even realize they need better reporting tools until it’s too late. I remember numerous large organizations being fascinated by shiny new user interfaces, but very few asking questions or exploring how they would get data out in a format they could use. The reporting and analytics capabilities of a platform seemed to always be an afterthought.
Let’s face it: large behemoth software companies are in business to be as profitable as possible. Driving sales and delivering products, even with inadequate reporting and analytics capabilities, is all part of the game. Most that read this post have used systems like these and experienced similar headaches trying to get data out of a proprietary system labeled as an “open architecture” at one time or another. Software vendors, especially in today’s competitive cloud environment, are battling to win and keep customers on their platforms. There is nothing advantageous to them about making it easy to get data out of their platforms.
We live in the age of Google, in which any obscure piece of information we could ever want is just a few keystrokes away. So why are transactional systems so far behind the times? Software vendors are evolving and some have made improvements to their systems, but there are still many that miss the mark when it comes to reporting and analytics output.
Fortunately, several software solutions have emerged over the last few years to fill this void. These business discovery platforms, such as QlikView, provide powerful, intuitive search, dashboard and visualization tools to help users make sense of their data. Even with so many software providers behind the curve, there’s a revolution underway in business intelligence, and people are catching on to the fact that how you get data out of your system is just as important as how you get it in.