Guest Blog by Bernie Smith, KPI Expert, United Kingdom

What are going to be the big themes for KPIs in 2012? We can get some clues from the world of consumer IT and software. In the consumer-computing world overwhelming change in the last 2 years has been in two areas, user expectation and usability.

For years consumers were prepared to put up with some ridiculous behaviour from their computers, frequent unexplained pauses, regular user-driven updates, software that just didn’t work or that had a very steep learning curve. You wouldn’t expect your TV to take 5 minutes to switch on and to inexplicably stop every so often, nor would you expect to take your car to the garage once a week to be “patched”. It’s been the same with management information and reporting for many years, in many big organisations. 300 page reports with poor structure, limited drill-down and frequent errors have been the norm.

The iPhones and iPads came along and completely revolutionised what people expected of their technology. Interestingly their adoption has significantly reduced the capability of the devices that most people use (an iPad won’t do as much as a typical laptop) but it’s a compromise that most people are happy with. Put simply the designers have identified the key functions that people are looking for and the key responses (rapid intuitive interface, instant-on and low maintenance requirements). The trends in management information and KPIs are likely to mirror this.Operations KPIs | Image Courtesy of jannoon028

Here are the growing KPI trends I see in 2012:

  • Easy consumption:   These consumer devices have had a rapid and profound effect on the expectations of people throughout organisations. The most obvious outcome is that many of my clients (all the way to the top) are now looking to consume dashboard and KPI information interactively on their iPads, iPhones, Android handsets and Blackberries.
  • Intuitive querying of data:  People now (rightly) are saying “if I describe the question, surely the software should deliver the answer”. There’s less tolerance of having your questions filtered, implemented through and delayed by “experts” in a Management Information team. People expect to be able to drag-and-drop data sets to create real-time analysis. This has always been the promise of much BI software, but the reality was often limited and poorly implemented. Next-generation BI tools like QlickView and Tableau are set to become the new best friends of management information departments and exec’s alike.
  • Clever Simplicity:  Creating the infrastructure for great management information is never going to be simple, but it can be easy to read and understand. There’s a new wave of intolerance amongst execs with poorly structured and cryptic reporting. This trend will only become stronger in 2012. There’s going to be more interest in human-friendly reporting, based on good psychology and research.
  • Fun:  Interacting with your organisations data can (and should be) fun – allowing rapid discovery of real insight. The truth is that this this so far from reality that some of you may well be laughing when you read this. However, people are expecting their interactions with data to be at least less painful.

These expectations are being fueled by users experiences outside of the world of management information, but will have profound effects within that world. It’s about time too. Let’s hope that 2012 is the year where consumers of KPIs, reports and management information start to be really unreasonable!

About Bernie Smith, Guest Blogger

BernieBernie Smith, Made To Measure KPIs has helped his clients deliver surprising levels of improvement across a wide range of industries over the past 15 years. His mission is to help clients with a repeatable, practical and jargon-free method for generating insightful and clear KPIs and management reports. He understands that most people don’t get excited by KPIs, but believes it’s a curable condition. Check out his blog, “Made to measure KPIs“.



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