It might be difficult to comprehend the power of SAP Lumira Designer (formerly known as BusinessObjects Studio) because the tool by itself is presumed to be not meant for end-users or business users. Also, its commonly considered an on-premise tool that may not be suitable for generating reports like WEBI or Crystal Reports.
This article will help you understand the true power of Lumira Designer from a bigger picture and how it supports the human design thinking process. What we should keep in mind is that, while most people primarily build dashboards with Lumira Designer/Design Studio, the full capacity of the tool lies beyond that. It is meant to build a BI application that can be dynamic and customizable according to the users’ workflow. With this flexibility, IT can come to Business and have a detailed conversation about their requirements – because they can offer a lot more than reports.
If you are a user-centric designer or a design thinker, here are the 3 reasons you will love Lumira Designer:
Control of User Experience
User experience is different from the user interface. While self-service analytics tools in the market offer a good user interface, it doesn’t necessarily provide the experience your users need. An essential component of this experience is User Workflow– the sequences of tasks performed by users to achieve their objectives. When given a new self-service BI tool such as Power BI or Tableau, users first need to learn about all the functionalities and then try to come up with what they need. A lot of excitement for BI and analytics is lost along this learning curve.
In addition to that, when efforts are spent on navigating the tool, users have less time and mental stamina to do their actual job: make an informed decision. With a design thinking mindset, the process needs to be the other way around: the tool follows the thinking process of users. Lumira Designer developers do not just build dashboards, but BI applications. These applications can be tailored to users’ customized step-by-step analytical process.
At the end of the day, we need to remember that users don’t need a self-service tool. Having a tool is not their ultimate goal, even though that’s what they would probably ask for from IT. That is because it will take time for users and designers to comprehend what they truly want. What they need is a way to discover insights from their data or to perform an analytical flow and facilitate their decision-making process. The role of IT here is to understand end-users’ workflow and make it as efficient as possible by designing navigation steps and screens within the application.
Iteration is a critical part of the design thinking methodology. This process requires an evolving prototype to generate feedback from users. Story-boarding and wireframes are a great start, but it is not until users can interact with the tool that they can give insightful and useful feedback. This feedback helps IT provide not only a practical and useful application but also a tool that sticks. Observing users’ interaction with the tool also helps designers learn about users’ habits and unspoken requirements. Most of the time users have developed certain analytical habits during their workflow, which are not easily communicated.
An interactive prototype is the best way for both users and designers to learn about their specific needs. Keeping this in mind, if you observe closely, SAP Lumira does not have competitors who can do this in the whole market. With its versatile components and simple scripting capabilities, designers can demonstrate an interaction in a matter of minutes and build a fully functioning BI application within days. While it is possible to create customized styling with CSS, the UI5 components in Designer are user-friendly enough, requiring no initial efforts for formatting from the users’ end. This helps designers and users focus on goals and functionalities first.
Self-Service Reporting Capabilities
Despite the hype caused in the market, self-service BI implementations have not been as successful as organizations expected. According to Logi Analytics’ State of Analytics Adoption Report in early 2017, even though access to self-service analytics tool has been growing rapidly, the adoption of these tools have decreased by 20%. On another hand, the report also pointed out another trend: the use of data discovery tools have peaked. What insight does this give us about the behavior of users? They like the idea of having the ability to extract just the data they need, create customized visualizations and share their views with other users. When Visual BI Solutions implements a self-service solution within a Lumira Designer, our customers get most excited about the following capabilities:
- Exporting data to Excel
- Data Discovery or Ad-hoc Analysis
- Create and Save bookmarks and personalized views
In most cases, self-service analytics tools give the user more than what they need, along with a deep learning curve and the concerns of data integrity. What they need is some self-service capabilities, not self-service tools. With basic components and especially the online composition capability in Lumira Designer, IT can deliver just enough functionalities their users actually need.
The tool is meant to be the bridge between IT and business and SAP has been consistently progressing its road map towards this direction. From a communication perspective, Lumira Designer gives IT an opportunity to sit down with business and talk about their self-service needs. This self-service experience is embedded in a reporting or analytics application authored by IT, where the user doesn’t have to worry about complicated formulas, scripting, and especially, data integrity and governance.
In conclusion, Lumira Designer offers the capabilities to accommodate our design process. Keep in mind that Design Thinking is a separate subject matter including a skillset that is not related to the expertise in the tool itself. The tool does take more time and effort to master. Figuring out the requirements is an essential part of arriving at meaningful functionalities. If we shift the conversation from being all about tools and its functionalities to an increased focus on users’ needs, Lumira Designer is an ultimate solution that can adapt to various scenarios, provided there are effective communications and design related workshops between IT and business.