Three Ideas That Could Bring Business Intelligence to the Masses: Page 3
BI Idea 2: The Do the Right Thing Key
Back in 1986, I loved the idea behind the Spike Lee movie so much that I designed an email system around it. Here's how it works:
You know how when you are doing a "replace all" in Word, you have to specify an exact character string, and then Word mindlessly replaces all occurrences, even if some should be capitalized and some not, or even if you just want whole words to be changed and not character strings within words? Well, think about it. If you type a whole word, 90 percent of the time you want only words to be replaced, and capitals to be added at the start of sentences. If you type a string that is only part of a word, 90 percent of the time you want all occurrences of that string replaced, and capitals when and only when that string occurs at the start of a sentence. So take that Word "replace" window, and add a Do the Right Thing key (really, a point and click option) at the end. If it's not right, the user can just Undo and take the long route.
The Do the Right Thing key is a macro; but it's a smart macro. You don't need to create it, and it makes some reasonable guesses about what you want to do, rather than you having to specify what it should do exactly. I found when I designed my email system, every menu, and every submenu or screen, would benefit from having a Do the Right Thing key. It's that powerful an idea.
The idea behind the Do the Right Thing key is actually very similar to that behind Google Exploratory Data Analysis. In both cases, you are really considering what the end user would probably want to do first, and only then finding a BI tool that will do that. The Do the Right Thing key is a bit more buttoned-up: you're probably carrying out a task that the business wants you to do. Still, it's way better than "do it this way or else."