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Data Talks, Episode 19

Data Talks is Exago’s podcast on all-things business intelligence, analytics, and application software. This month, we’re going to learn how to maximize the return on your BI implementation by empathizing with your user. Joining us for this conversation is designer, speaker, and founder of Designing for Analytics Brian T. O’Neill, an independent consultancy that helps companies apply human-centered design to data science and analytics. We explore how to assess users’ and stakeholders’ needs, serve a variety of users with one implementation, and make sure our BI is actually facilitating decision support — not just appearing to.


Segment 1: Empathic BI

(1:20) Introducing Brian.

(3:25) How human-centered design applies to data.

(8:20) Interviewing users and stakeholders to understand the design problem.

(12:20) Steps to conducting a human-centered design project.

(18:20) On using internal staff to test a BI implementation.

(21:55) The “bolt-on” BI implementation and its effects on the user.

(24:45) Accommodating different types of users.

(28:30) The CED (conclusions, evidence, data) framework.

(30:05) Maximizing your implementation’s ROI and measuring success.

(38.12) The myth of “silver bullet” BI.

(42:05) Brian’s upcoming seminar: Designing Human-Centered Data Science Solutions

Segment 2: What We Are Nerding Out About

(45:35) Brian: The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect by Judea Pearl and Explainable AI (XIA)!

(47.20) Nicole: HotJar and other tools that visualize website visitor behavior!

(48:35) Alex: Magic the Gathering, an exceptionally well-designed card game!


Notable Quotes

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity for human-centered design to help companies deliver better outcomes. We’re all good at generating outputs — charts and things to look at and numbers and all this — but we don’t always connect with people that are trying to make decisions with the information.” (2:19)

“The reality was, the problem had nothing to do with the visualization. The visualization wasn’t even necessary! It was not helping anyone achieve the goal, which was decision support.” (6:07)

Everyone’s kind of native on their own stuff at some point, and you’re just not going to have that objective viewpoint on how people are perceiving what you’re doing.” (18:32)

“Even though it technically may be a bolt-on solution, which brings a lot of value because you’re eliminating engineering overhead (or at least perceived engineering overhead), that doesn’t necessarily mean that an out-of-the-box solution can just be plopped onto your platform and you’re done. You may you may get some short-term wins out of that. It may stop the bleeding, but it’s like a bandage.” (22:24)

A BI implementation is a solution to some problem, and the problem needs to be really clear or else the team’s likelihood of delivering success is going to be low. This might sound really basic, but it’s not. I I run into this all the time. It’s like going into the doctor’s office and saying, ‘Doctor, I need a cast on my arm!’ No good doctor in his right mind would just whip out the cast-making materials and send you on your way. The real goal is to heal the arm, not to just provide a cast because you asked for it.” (34:33)

“I would say kind of shoot for sort of an intermediate-level solution that pushes the envelope and know that not everyone is going to get it on the first time.” (40:00)


Featured Guest

Brian T. O'Neill

Brian T. O’Neill is a designer, advisor, and founder of Designing for Analytics. For over 20 years, he has worked with companies including DellEMC, Tripadvisor, Fidelity, JP Morgan Chase, ETrade and numerous SAAS startups. He has spoken at conferences including O’Reilly Strata, Enterprise Data World, the International Institute for Analytics Symposium, and Predictive Analytics World. Brian also recently launched a podcast titled Experiencing Data, where he reveals the strategies and activities that product, data science and analytics leaders are using to deliver valuable experiences around data. In addition to consulting, Brian is also a professional percussionist and has performed at Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center. Follow him on Twitter and join his mailing list.

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