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.

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…

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

Cloud-based BI Stack Partnership Deal

BI Market, BI Solutions, Cloud Computing, on Demand BI No Comments

A new partnership recently announced between four open-source and proprietary vendors heralds a big step forward along the BI Cloud roadmap. Vendors Jaspersoft, Talend, Vertica and RightScale have formed an alliance to lead the integration stack of open source BI into cloud environments.

  • Jaspersoft – open-source BI
  • Talend – data-integration technologies
  • Vertica’s – analytic database
  • RightScale’s – management software for cloud-based application deployments.

At first light it appears the integration is at the technical and sales levels only. Customers will have to form form contractual agreements with each vendor; each vendor naturally responsible for supporting their own technology. This signals a hiccup in such a fast paced IT integration society.

But the good news is that customers will be able to use the pay-as-you-go pricing model integral in cloud computing. The offer is expected to be attractive to smaller enterprises that do not have a full developed BI capability and to smaller resellers or consultants who will add their domain expertise.

Cloud is also used by larger enterprises for periodic BI projects or experimental analytics outside their enterprise analytical framework.

Do Dell Have Enough Brand Trust As A Cloud Service Provider?

Cloud Computing No Comments

One of the biggest constraints about enterprises moving data and services into the Cloud is Trust – trust that access will be reliable and available, and trust that their data is safe. Trust is a key attribute of brand, and preivous behaviour of brand owners either contributes to or erodes brand.

 

It is this very trust issue that puts me in two minds re Dells latest rollout of a Cloud enabled SaaS package to European businesses.

 

Whilst I am a great supporter of getting applications with low frequency usage and high processing requirements into the Cloud, I worry about Dells ability to deliver. The reason for my concern is lack of trust.

 

In my opinion, Dell has failed to adquately manage the power their laptops, so why would I trust them with assuring availability of a whole data center in which I would trust such important services as Distributed Device Management, Software Inventory, Online Backup and Restore, Laptop Data Encryption, Email Management and Crisis Management.

 

I would like to clarify that I am a fan of Dell computers in general, my own laptop is a Dell as are the laptops of my partner and mother – all procured with the assistance of moi. No other provider gives more bang for the buck.

 

But the power management systems in these Laptops have been problematic from Day 1. And Dell has consistently failed to accept responsibility for this issue. As I said earlier, brand is a big part of trust – and we would like to think that when something goes wrong that is critical to business continuity, we don’t have the vendor shutting down the issue with ‘not our problem’.

 

Dell – if you are the Cloud service provider it is your problem. And the issues with the power management in your laptops is your problem – so is the very poor quality of the laptop batteries which last little longer than a year.

 

With availability and reliability key elements underpinning the trust a client puts in their Cloud vendor, I suggest that Dell needs to be more consistent in managing that trust.

 

When I am happy with trusting Dell with my laptop power, then and only then will I trust them with Cloud services. And that day is not today!

Behavioral Analytics in the Cloud

Analytics, BI Solutions, Cloud Computing No Comments

Just downloaded a very good whitepaper from Quantivo that provides an overview of how we can dig deeper below our normal web analytics to gain more insight into customer behaviour. Those of you who know me know how much a fan of cloud computing and business intelligence I am, and Quantivo has developed a great cloud SaaS application to enable all businesses to gain access to this valuable insight. I know this sounds like an ad [no, I am not getting paid to say this] – but I am just such a fan of making BI available for everyone.

Identify specific behaviour after:

  • Purchasing a product
  • Viewing a page or ad
  • Interacting with online content
  • Watching an online video

This helps you categorise each visitor as either “actively researching information, ready to purchase, or simply looking”

Take a quick look at this short video [4 mins]

The application also has an affinity database which provides relationship insight from relevant behavioral patterns to help you identify that big grey hole – the one where you don’t know what you don’t know!

Download whitepaper here – requires registration

Just make sure it connects with your CRM and the data is portable.

BI Cited ‘Top Technology’ for 2009

Analyst Reports, BI Strategy, Cloud Computing, CRM Solutions, IT Strategy, SaaS No Comments

The latest Gartner 2009 CIO Agenda survey of 1500 CIO’s has revealed some surprising and not so surprising results.

Firstly, the not so surprising is that BI has been voted as the top technology for 2009, after all BI has held this spot since 2006.  What is surprising is that the focus is not on analytics – the survey indicated that the top CIO business expectation was in improving business processes. This surprised me, as many companies have supposedly already been through this era – or maybe is just wasn’t done well enough. The other inference I have made is that BI is now focusing on the operational value it contributes – what we refer to as OBI.

The rankings of exectations and technologies are:

Expectations

  1. Reducing enterprise costs
  2. Improving enterprise workforce effectiveness
  3. Attracting and retaining new customers [#2 in 2008]
  4. Creating new products or services [#3 in 2008], however innovation is forecast to move up the ladder to top spot by 2012.

 IT Strategies

  1. Tighter link between business and IT strategies
  2. Reducing the cost of IT [#10 in 2008]
  3. Delivering projects that enable growth
  4. Attracting, developing and retaining IT personnel

 Technologies

  1. Business intelligence [BI] [ since 2006]
  2. Enterprise applications such as CRM or ERP
  3. Servers and storage technologies.

 The survey results overall are not surprising. As the current market is hardly conducive to growth strategies for most businesses, it is an ideal time to refocus on core business and get better at the basics. BI is known for its ability to improve productivity whilst reducing costs. We can not overlook the past carnage of poorly implemented BI projects and tools that were too difficult for most business users to integrate into their daily operations. However, in the past two years this scenario has changed signficiantly, with tools much more business oriented and the knowledge base of implementation best practice taking learnings from the past and crafting far better BI program practices of today. The other missing link I will personally add is the level of education the business receives, not in using BI but in why they should be using it, and exactly how it improves a business from single user self performance management all the way up to the boardroom strategy.

Virtualisation, cloud computing and software-as-a-service [SaaS] are also acknowledged as cost reducing strategies but many IT managers are still cautious around availability, security, and a full functional fit. Such technologies are gaining favor with mid to small enterprises that may not have the full IT capabilities of larger corporates.

Overall,  although BI is voted the top technology for 2009, the ‘killer app’ is ‘Leadership’. Companies don’t want consultants giving them a set of options – they want strong leadership paths to drive their businesses through the current downturn and still come out having advanced in some way. It may not be with customer growth and revenue growth, but I expect we will see leaner and meaner businesses forging ahead with renewed vigor and tighter focus.

Survey base: N=1500 CIOs worldwide, Duration= 3 months to Dec 15, 2008. Average company size = 400, average IT budget = $90 million.

BI in Gartners 2009 Top Tech List

BI Infrastructure, BI Market, Cloud Computing, IT Strategy No Comments

Gartner has released its Top Tech list for 2009, and BI sits at #9. This years top strategic technology is very much based at the infrastructure, rather than the application level with Virtualization, cloud computing, computing fabric, web-oriented architecture and unified communications. This has somewhat overpowered the strategic value of BI, but is significant to BI in that it focuses attention to the underlying capability that BI requires to perform at its best.

To be included on Gartners list, the technology must possess more than just inherent features and funcitonality. It must be capable of being applied across multiple platforms and have real value to business.

Virtualization – is transforming corporate IT infrastructure at both the server and desktop level.

Cloud Computing – is the buzz phrase in IT today, so it is no wonder that it hit the strategic list at number two. Cloud computing will have a signficant impact on the way technology is deployed in organizations and will add support to SaaS models in all application fields.

Comuting Fabrics – at number 3, [#8 in 2008] server technology ‘Computing Fabrics’ combines server technology resources to enable them to be dispensed with their underlying pools of small, medium and large servers. Blade servers have some computing fabric capability – being able to move memory and processor capability.

Following the top three are:

4. Web-oriented Architecture – impacting the SOA model for services delivery, this architecture uses Web standards, identifiers, formats and protocols.

5. Enterprise Mashups – up from #6, applies the wizardary of contentmashups to allow users to employ public APIs to quickly combine various services and capabilities; extending the flexibility business users have to combine data inside and outside the enterprise.

6. Specialized Systems – new to the list, includes all those specialized appliances for Java, data warehousing and other processes. Not quite sure where this one will end as it is a dumping ground for all the less significant technologies, that when applied together become significant.

7. Social Software and Social Networking – up from #10, these tools extend collaboration efforts across organizations.

8. Unified Communications – aligned to number 7 above, and down from the second spot last year, Gartner anticipates a major consolidation of communications vendors through unified communications.

9. Business intelligence – new to the list, although surprising it hasn’t made it in the past. However, the reality of BI has dawned with the increase in computing power making BI tools more effective and efficient. The focus on BI has moved from core analytics as a distinct function to operational BI, embedded into business processes supporting automated decision making and exception management.

10. Green IT – the top contender in 2008 has lost ground to the bottom spot but has not diminished in importance. Sustainability is now woven into the fabric of IT strategy and as such is no longer seen as a separate capability but an inherent requirement of all corporate operations and technology.

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