The Magazination

Originally Posted 10/4/2010 

I just realized that there's more to say about the "magazination" of the web consuming by app lke paper.ly or FlipBox.

This form of content organization might be mirrored by BI presentation layers.

I usually do not focus too much on presentation; it is overhyped by too many tools because it cheaply attracts users attention. While some forms of analytics are empowered by good visualization, some others simply generate a perceptive overload.

The "magazine" form, though, is different A common presentation format in modern BI is the dashboard. It may include current data presented in some kpi format or organized in tables. It may also include data pushed on event by some sort of event engine. In some ERP systems, a complex messaging an notification system is inherited by integrated dashboards.
More detailed and "numerically intensive" information is available through reports or other analytics, accessed from the dashboard itself.
On magazines or newspapers the headlines are usually reserved to information pushed on the event, while internal pages host stock listings, classifieds etc. Often there's a recall to these detailed data on the first page.
In other terms, dashboards and newspapers may appear different but they both share a common perceptive model. Ideas are organized in this way because people think in this way.

How the average, not so technical, manager, acts upon the information provided by systems? Probably she reads the mail first, in search of news, than she'll get the daily reports or will glance to the dashboard. The average manager hardly, or ever, drills down or filters data to investigate on them. She will ask an analyst (maybe that's not the job description but the business role is such) or, worse, will ask the IT for raw data to crunch in Excel (just to complain later that the figures on Excel are very different from the dashboards).

In this scenario, how could the "magazination" of the interfaces be of help? We have seen that some paradigms are shared so where's the difference? Words. The terrific difference is that magazines and newspapers express their ideas in words. Think to the economic press: few graphics, few tables, some infographic and lot of words to describe stock variations or the health of a company. If we could create an analytic engine which could describe the figures also in plain English, I'm rather sure BI will get a tremendous boost in credibility among the upper management. Newspaper organize the news according to their perceived importance, is any BI tool capable of doing the same? No, and this is one of the reasons why BI is perceived as complex by business users.
News are often accompanied with background information which tell the whole story to the casual reader. Are we able to do the same with BI tools? Aren't these the information we are often accused not to provide promptly and clearly?

What do you think? Am I totally fool? (I'm sober, I can assure you) Do I have something here? Please, let me know!