Wanted: A Flipboard approach for the enterprise

Wanted: A Flipboard approach for the enterprise

Summary: Enterprise software vendors are busy talking about user experience, but the reality in the enterprise is vastly different. Where is an analytics powered Flipboard to tell us the corporate story?


I was recently talking analytics, data and enterprise software with a chief information officer at a massive company and the topic of user interface came up repeatedly.

The problem: It's one thing to break down corporate silos, aggregate and define data and then distill it into knowledge. It's quite another to put that data and insight into a format that is actionable for the masses.

In other words, we need a Flipboard for the enterprise. What's the corporate story for the day/month/quarter/year in data---revenue, churn, supply chain, day sales outstanding etc.---at a glance?

Source: Usertesting.com


Shouldn't our analytics applications look more like this?

Sure, enterprise software and analytics players have attempted an infographic approach and worked to boost their presentation skills. Meanwhile, every vendor I talk with goes on a user experience rant about how they are becoming more friendly, mobile and consumerish. These talks to date have been more aspirational than reality.

More: UX goes mainstream? User experience testing budgets surge | So long, spreadsheets -- hello in-memory cloud financial tools | Workday launches Workday 21, aims to step up user experience | SAP CEO McDermott: 'Suite always wins' in cloud too

Here are a few disconnects that prevent large enterprises from this Flipboard dream:

  • The vendors that get user experience and interface may specialize in an area---say CRM or HCM---and protect their interface instead of using it to tap into more corporate data.
  • Partners in a supply chain network are protective of their data and may require a company to use their software and interface, which oh by the way stinks.
  • Data silos within a company also make it difficult to suck into one beautiful user interface anyway.
  • And enterprise software players talk user experience, but generally lack the chops. Everything looks good in Photoshop.

Add it up and this CIO was willing to buy enterprise software based in part on the user interface and design approach. We're not to a Flipboard stage yet, but there will be pent-up demand should we ever get there.

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Topics: CXO, Enterprise Software

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  • Presumably the CIO you talked to was promoted from marketing

    I'm not opposed to attractive UIs. However, nearly EVERY time I see graphics and data colliding, it tends to be a whole lot of sizzle and no steak. Sometimes you need raw reports - not an Instagram feed, but a sheet with a whole lot of numbers. Hell, most marketing types still have problems making graphs and charts in Excel and Powerpoint that aren't crap, and that's been a thing for nearly 20 years now. I'm unopposed to making user interfaces better, but "better" frequently involves situations that preclude "looking better in a screenshot". The concept of a Flipboard/Blinkfeed style look at numbers is great, but it assumes that you're looking at a very particular set of numbers with a very specific correlation between them. Yes, the most common 10-20 of such numbers could easily be shown in pretty tiles with Webshots behind them, but for REAL analytics and data analysis? Sorry, that's where SQL/NoSQL comes into play, and it takes plenty of wisdom to know the difference.

  • Keep the real information front and center

    I agree with Joey, above. The recent change to huge images on many sites at the expense of displaying text has made them much less useful and it's more time consuming to extract real information. It's a trend that I hope will quickly run its course so we can return to making content the focus over flash.