Birst Data Discovery

BI Solutions, Cloud BI, Data Visualization No Comments

Have just been watching a webinar replay “Data Discovery Beyond the Desktop” presented by Birst. Apart from looking like a very good  BI tool, I was impressed by their knowledge of data visualization principles. As most of you know, I have been rather outspoken about the poor design inherent in most dashboard and visualization tools provided by even tier 1 vendors. It’s such a relief to finally come across a vendor providing a data visualization tool that actually does understand how to format the presentation layer. Congratulations Birst. I was impressed – so just had to give your team a shout out 🙂

Suggest you check out the webinar:

Update on Top 6 BI Trends for 2012

Analyst Reports, Big Data, Big Data Analytics, Cloud BI No Comments

Late in 2011, Gartner came out with their top 6 predictions for business intelligence: BI in the Cloud, Mobile BI, Analytics, Agile BI, In-memory analytics, and Big Data. As we enter the final quarter, let’s take a look at how things are panning out.

BI in the Cloud

As Cloud computing continues to dominate the IT landscape, Gartner is predicting that cloud offerings will make up just 3 per cent of BI revenue by 2013. However, it is gaining ground and chipping away at on-premises BI, particularly in the Big Data Analytics space.
Decision makers are still questioning the Cloud as an operational tool. The initial move of data to the Cloud is a challenge, as is bandwidth and security. Many are favoring using Cloud of back up storage and archiving, and disaster recovery, but are still unsure of how well Cloud will support operational data activities.

Mobile BI

Forrester’s believe Mobile BI will go mainstream in 2012. Whilst I agree that mobile BI will continue to grow, the small device platform is suited only to a limited subset of business intelligence activities. There is still an issue around data security on caching data on mobile devices, which are readily lost or stolen. There are also processing power constraints, limiting any real value with analytics.
As a quick, on the go monitoring tool – great – but I am unconvinced that mobile devices will suit the escalating swell in analytics needs.


The MIT Sloan Management report found that organizations using analytics are more than twice as likely to substantially outperform their competitive peers. Analytics is certainly the one to watch. As many companies are still struggling to publish dashboards on historical data – the technical needs around advanced analytics are still well beyond many organisations. This is certainly one for the Cloud – and watch out for a rapid explosion of Analytics as a Service offerings. Moving analytics closer to the data is a key strategy, and with Big Data better suited to the Cloud – it makes sense that analytics will follow.

Analytics has already taken off, it is now a matter of maturity towards optimization and prediction becoming integrated into business processes so that it is consumable as a decision management tool.

Agile BI

Agile is good with anything today. Methodologies are not getting a lot of focus as BI teams are getting swamped with requests for reports and dashboards that are better off being done locally, but business users. However, sadly too little attention has been given to training in using BI tools and in effective dashboard design. Before agile BI can really take hold, BI teams need to get more aligned with their real function – and pass publishing back to the business.

In-Memory Analytics

Memory continues to get cheaper by the day – and in-memory analytics tools such as Qlikview, Spofire and Tableau are helping users gain more insight into the power of simple data exploration. The real benefit, is that local data sets can be used, rather than relying on waiting for IT to import data into centralized data warehouses. This does cut out the data quality look – but for exploration purposes it’s a good start to helping businesses to expand their business intelligence portfolio.

Big Data

Forrester’s prediction that Big Data will move out of the silos and into enterprise IT may be right, but its not the best decision for many companies. With the rapid growth in the volume and variety of data it makes much more sense for Big Data to be in the Cloud. Corporates have enough to do without continually adding more servers and memory.

Big Data is certainly changing the business landscape – however, its maturity has yet to cross ‘The Chasm’ and corporate IT is better to wait until it has, and for their business users to get more savvy about how to use Big Data.

Keep Your Eyes on the End Game

Big Data Analytics, Cloud Computing, Dashboard Design, Data Visualization No Comments

In business intelligence it is easy to get caught up in the data technology, the current obsession for ‘big data’, or producing as many dashboards as possible. However, none of this is as important as the end game  – extracting usable insight that will improve your ability to reach your strategic goals.

It frustrates me that BI vendors continue to pump out dashboard building tools that fail to deliver the basics of good dashboard design, yet they seem to have the resources to deliver new tools for big data. Whilst I am a great supporter of the ability to be able to extract market triggers, and explore data for possibilities, rather than rely on historically driven predictive analytics, there is a danger that we are losing sight of what we are aiming to achieve.

There are those who claim that big data is nothing new – are they missing the real value that Big Data delivers, and again, focusing too much on the technical definition, rather than the marketing definition? Data volume has always been an issue – and yes, virtualisation and cloud computing have certainly improved processing speeds. In-database analytics, and in-memory processing have also helped us get to the truth faster – but how fast do we really need to go? As humans we can only view, assimilate and make decisions at a limited speed. Rather than faster data – we need smarter ways of making decisions – robust decision models, statistical models to trigger alerts, to provide us with glimpses of a likely future outcome. Big data [as defined as social data and other data plucked from the marketsphere] is being made available in ways it never has been before. That is big news! That is a big jump from the market intelligence channels we once had to rely on. The key is in finding the value within this data.

I love technology innovation – but not at the expense of sound logic, readily dispensed, and in a format that is rapidly assimilated and instantly usable.

Big Data and BI

Cloud BI, Data No Comments

Just returned from an Altis breakfast briefing where William McKnight was talking about technology supporting BIG data. Although I am a strategic performance consultant, I find it very important to understand both the technology options and the approaches used by IT to deliver to the business intelligence requirements of the business. As data is the foundation of performance management, every time there is a big change in data, there is a big change in both the business and technical requirements.

  • On the business side – if your competitors are accessing the insight from Big Data, you need to stay on the same playing field if you want to remain competitive in the same game.
  • On the technology sideRead the rest…

MicroStrategy Business Intelligence In the Coud.

Cloud Computing, Microstrategy, on Demand BI No Comments

Being passionate about both BI and Cloud it’s exciting for me to see Microstrategy launch their Cloud-based BI solution. The platform is designed to support rapid development of business intelligence and mobile and social applications.

So just ho does MicroStrategy’s Cloud solution meet our expected features: Read the rest…

The Perils of Self Service BI

BI Infrastructure, BI Strategy, on Demand BI 1 Comment

Self-service BI is becoming the holy grail of business intelligence in its big promise to break the reliance of business users on IT to create their reports. With self-service BI, business users get the information they need, when they want it, how they want it. However, its not quite as simple as it sounds. For most business users, the BI tools are too difficult to use.

So what’s the solution – in-business power users. Power users are technically savvy business analysts that work within business teams to provide reporting. Adding BI to their suite of tools will replace a lot of very shaky complex pivot tables, and provide a much more insightful set of outcomes.

The big win is getting report production out of IT – away from IT deadlines and out of the hands of those who have no added business value into the process. Business power users are in touch with the business on a daily basis, as such they have more insight into the types of problems that the business needs to solve and the insight [data] needed to help make decisions around solving that problem. Read the rest…

BI Vendors Partnering for BI in the Cloud

BI Market, BI Solutions, Cloud BI No Comments
Four open-source and proprietary vendors have forged a new partnership resulting in a cloud-based BI stack.
  1. Jaspersoft – open-source BI
  2. Talend –  data-integration
  3. Vertica – analytics database
  4. RightScale – management software for cloud-based application deployments
Whilst the contractual relationship between the vendors may be tight, unfortunately the same cannot be said for customers. Customers need to form contractual agreements with each vendor. Each vendor will also be responsible for supporting their own technology. To ease the pain, the group has created a seamless sales that supports a ‘pay-as-you-go’ pricing model inherent in cloud computing.
Such an offering will not only attract smaller enterprises; departments in larger enterprises frustrated at the lengthy delay of BI deployment and the complex Capex business case sign off will find value in such a one-stop infrastructure to advance their use of data from spreadsheets and canned reports into an operational BI application. The stack will also provide an ideal ‘sandbox’ for enterprise IT teams wishing to experiment with BI analytics.
Click here to gain real insight into How Cloud Computing will open up opportunities in BI for both enterprises and IT vendors and consultant.

New Releases in The Logical Organization Management Insight Series

BI Program, BI Strategy, BI Theory, Cloud BI, Cloud Computing, CPM 1 Comment

I am really excited to announce the release of two new additions to the TLO Management Insight Series:

  • Leading With SPI
  • Getting to Cloud

Leading with SPI – Driving Productivity and Profit using Strategic Performance Improvement

Leading with SPI - Driving Productivity and Profit using Strategic Performance Improvement

Leading with SPI provides a detailed, step-by-step guide to driving better strategic definition and more effective and efficient strategic execution. Using the powers of business intelligence, the key decisions of the business are focused around those points where real improvement can be made. SPI transforms the outlook of business leaders from a backward facing measurement system using traditional lagging indicators, to a more future focused KPI based performance improvement capability that delivers more opportunities to improve and move ahead of competition.

SPI starts with deconstruction of measurable strategic objectives to help focus the business on what’s most important, and by following a simple process, identifies the questions that must be answered at each key decision point.

The KPI used to measure performance are grouped around these key decision points, ensuring that what must be done, gets measured. And, gets focused upon!

Find out more about Leading with SPI by clicking here.

Getting to Cloud – Discovering New Business Opportunities with Cloud Computing

Getting to Cloud - Discovering New Business Opportunities with Cloud Computing

Cloud is the missing power base that underpins data warehouses and advanced analytics. So many businesses are either prevented from implementing BI solutions or stall early into the project through the lack of processing power or clean data quality management. Cloud provides the opportunity to leverage the significant benefits of BI, without reliance on outdated, overloaded IT infrastructures.

Cloud computing is so much more than a power base for BI – with its foundation in virtualization technology, it is the platform that will transform the competitive base of business. No longer will small businesses be constrained in competing against their larger competitors through lack of IT resources. Cloud remedies that.

Cloud also impacts the IT reseller market – rather than disintermediation of resellers, Cloud offers an expanse of new service and product opportunities that were previously beyond the technical or financial scope.

Getting to Cloud looks at the questions both buyers and sellers need to be asking themselves right NOW. It provides detailed ROI case analysis and savings data for use in business cases…and so much more.

Find out more about Getting to Cloud by clicking here

Open Source – Will It Transform the Software Industry?

Analyst Reports, Cloud Computing, Pentaho No Comments

Support for open source software has grown significantly over the past five years. Recently, Forrester Analyst Jeffrey Hammond claimed that open-source technology is now “a de facto standard” for IT, with many companies hoping to save $30K-$40K per server in 2010 by switching to open-source.

Open source solutions are bubbling to the top of many types of applications. Open Source BI solutions, lead by Pentaho offer the cost and flexibility advantages previously lacking in many packaged commercial solutions.

So just how will this model play out? Will applications become commoditized with revenue models moving from software to services? Will the Cloud help to drive this change?

Share your thoughts on this, I am interested to know what you think.

How to Set Up BI in the Cloud

Cloud BI, Cloud Computing, Pentaho No Comments

I watch a lot of webinars and every now and then I come across one that really stands out. And one I really would like to recommend is:

A Guide to Building a Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence Solution in the Cloud

Recorded on July 9, 2009 by Open-source BI vendor Pentaho, Cloud DBMS vendor Vertica and BI Cloud systems integrator OpenBI, Ithe webinar provides a very insightful overview how any concerns around performance and security with Cloud have been overcome for use with BI applications. In particular, the webinar covers:

  • Cloud overview (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud)
  • Operational expense vs. capital expense project funding
  • Technology selection
  • Provisioning BI hardware and software in the Amazon EC2 with Vertica and Pentaho
  • How a BI demo was created and lessons learned using Pentaho and Vertica
  • New BI opportunities enabled by the economic advantages of cloud computing

A segment I found especially helpful was the configuration considerations when setting up BI in the Cloud. This included security, cost management, user access, ETL, performance etc.

View the Webinar [52mins] here

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