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Visual Merchandising for SAP Teams

by Dave Hannon

November 16, 2011

By Dave Hannon


Like it or not, we are a visual society. Most of us understand things better when we can see them. And no one knows that better than a salesperson. For example: We don't go "phone shopping" we go "window shopping" because people known as "visual merchandisers" have put all the nicest clothes in eye-catching displays in store windows.

And lately, I keep hearing examples of this "visual merchandising" in the business intelligence space. Just today, I was talking with a director of business intelligence and when I asked him about his user training program, he basically said, "Step one is I give them access to the solution and let them play with it for a while." From there, the adoption goes more smoothly.

The solution in this case was SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. And according to the BI director, the reaction when users see their data displayed through this application -- on an iPad specifically -- is really all the "selling" that needs to be done. Sure there's implementation and deployment and training, but in terms of converting users to the new BI, seeing is believing, it seems.

Show your procurement manager their annual spend broken down by supplier in a spreadsheet and then give them access to the same data in an Explorer report and see which one they refer back to for follow up.

I've heard similar comments from other SAP organizations -- you want your executive team to sign off on dashboards? Get some on iPad, bring it to your next meeting and leave it there "by accident" with the dashboards up. They sell themselves, I'm told. 

But the beauty is this "visual merchandisi ng" is truly in everyone's best interest. A front-end like BusinessObjects Explorer is really just the icing on the IT investment cake. It's really a way to maximize the investment you've made in your SAP system and expand its use.

Because at the end of the day, collecting data doesn't improve your business (in fact, some might argue the efforts to do so can slow your business). Using data is what improves business.

What do you think? Does visualization of data always help "sell" the value? Or have you received feedback from users who say they prefer to see it in tables or columns?

For more information:

How the Average Consumer's Use of Analytics Will Change Your Work

Real-Time Dashboards at Day & Zimmermann Get People to the Right Place at the Right Time

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