IMGContextual Aptitude: The Next Great Thing… Again

Martyn Jones

Birmingham 15th March 2017

What is Contextual Aptitude (also known as End User Intelligence)?

For starters, it’s a rubbish term for an extra-crucial business-centric concept of gravity-defying, cosmos-rallying, mega-mega importance.

Contextual Aptitude is…

  1. The ultimate word in true agility.
  2. The paragon of near-zero DevOps
  3. The epitome of value-adding, business-driven, time and place utility.
  4. The IKEA, VisiCalc and Google search-engine of end-user computing.
  5. It’s a data mart in a box (this is the really mysterious one).

I have heard it stated that a lot of business users don’t like Business Intelligence. That may be the case. But, not on my watch. Big Data might be mostly boloney, hype and haddock, but this definitely isn’t.

What do I mean?

Many times Business Intelligence reminds me of a joke from Annie Hall. Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.”

In many places, what passes for BI is a bit like that, but, with all the portions super-sized.

In business IT, as in other places, there is a wealth of accumulated wisdom, knowledge and experience about how to do things right and for all the right reasons. But, it’s as if people read the words, agreed with them and then immediately erased – Men in Black style. Words too soon forgotten. At some cost. Words such as “give me what I ask for, nothing more or less, and I will tell you what I want.” Or “can you just give me the data?”

How do you make up for not having outsourced and offshore services and staff develop expensive BI capabilities that no one will use, never mind embrace, extend and promote?

Easy! Look to your own people.

How do you stop IT people with titles such as Business Analyst, from delivering BI that no one wants?

Easy! Let the business users with the requirements be their own business analysts.

How do you stop the pain of bashing your head against the dummies brick-built guide to clairvoyant BI?

Easy! Don’t do it.

So, what can IT do?

IT has to stop pretending it can be Santa Claus.

IT has to stop thinking of business users as ‘clueless collective’ when it comes to applying technologies to the task at hand.

IT should also stop claiming that what they deliver helps business users do “a better job”. This is the most conceited aspect of the whole enchilada.

So, back to focus. Here’s what Contextual Aptitude isn’t…

  1. It’s not about pushing the envelope.
  2. It’s not about getting people to do more for less (we have Taxi apps for that).
  3. It’s not about thinking outside the box.
  4. It’s not about dumbing down the organisation (we already have stuff for that).
  5. It’s not about opening the kimono.
  6. It’s not about harmonising cross-silo synergies, and
  7. It isn’t about data velocity, variety or volumes.

Contextual Aptitude is about the agile provision of data and functionality – the user wants it yesterday? The user makes it yesterday! The user gets exactly the data they ask for. Then they can slide, dice, soft, sort, compare and extract, to their heart’s content. The user doesn’t like what they configured – the data mart? They knock it down or shelve it and then make a new one. Easy, fast and repeatable.

Contextual Aptitude is bureaucracy averse – IT makes sure the data is available, when and where it is needed. Data Governance ensures data protection and integrity. IT ensures that the infrastructure is always available, reliable and performant.

Contextual Aptitude always has time and place utility – this is in the form of continuous business justification, use and revision.

Contextual Aptitude is intuitive – because it is part of the business. For business. By business. A synergy of user and provider.

But, none of this will work without Contextual Aptitude that includes the concept of Data Mart in a Box and which puts computing power into the hands of the real business users[1] and away from the amateur zones that many organizations have cultivated, and which straddle the zero-value-adding area between business and technology, badly.

Many thanks for reading. If you would like to know more about this approach to BI then please let me know and I will endeavour to expand on themes here and on my own blog.


Martyn Richard Jones

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[1] Those unfamiliar with this type of technology might like to check-out Unisys BIS, as an example