Sunday, February 27, 2011

Do companies really want transparency and collaboration?

Just finished our annual conference on planning tools. As usual, I talked to a lot of customers and vendors, and one theme came up several times: Some of the great features that vendors have on the roadmaps for their tools and that analyst list high in their discussions of trends for the new year may not be customer requirements at all.

I'm not talking about platform issues like mobile BI. This is about actual features of the tool. In particular, features that shed light on the thought processes that lead to the final planning numbers. Here are some specific remarks:

  • Fine grained comments, for example comments on individual numbers, are rarely used.
  • Detailed collaboration is often better done off line. Is this a tool issue or a cultural issue?
  • Comments from large user groups tend to be too low in quality to be of much use.
  • Middle management sometimes opposes processes that encourage transparency, even if they save time and effort.
  • In some cases middle managers feel that storing data locally until it has been verified is better for them. So (to get back to a platform issue) Web-based data collection is not as popular as you might expect, a trend I have mentioned before.
Of course these are not universal truths. But it is interesting to hear how often they are mentioned.

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