Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ventana Blasts HP over BI

Mark Smith of Ventana Research didn't mince words over HP's announcement it will shut down its business intelligence product Neoview, obviously bowing out of the BI software market.

Despite the hot market, growing demand for software and services, and competitors like IBM, Oracle, and SAP aggressively pursuing BI, it appears that HP is a drop-out.

Or are they?  While Mark seems to think HP management is rather clueless about the BI software industry, he also suggests that they might actually stay in the game by acquiring one of the remaining smaller BI vendors--MicroStrategy, Actuate, Information Builders, or QlikTech.

Could it be that HP is tossing out one BI product but intends to buy another?

QlikTech's QlikView is a hot up-and-coming BI product that HP might be able to acquire at a reasonable price (unless they wait too long).  Actuate is a Java-based reporting tool that is probably a better fit for another vendor, such as Oracle.

MicroStrategy and Information Builders have similar server-based web BI architectures and either could be right for HP.  But MicroStrategy is publicly traded while Information Builders is privately held by the same founding owners from the 1970s.  HP and IBI could pair up nicely.

Mark offers his best wishes to HP and told them to call if they have any questions about BI. See the whole story on the Information Management website.

2011 February Update: After dropping Neoview, HP wasted no time to pick up another BI product. On Valentine's Day, they acquired Vertica, a vendor of new-fangled database software. See Barry Devlin's blog for his thoughts. 

Dell does Tablet Computing

I hate to part with my four-year old Dell Latitude notebook, but now that the E key is causing me grif, I am rady to gt a nw on.

While looking for a replacement, I came across the new Dell "convertible" called the Inspiron Duo -- it switches between being a netbook and a touchscreen tablet.  Like an Apple iPad, accessories like speakers convert it even further into an entertainment center.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Dell priced this tablet computer just below the Apple iPad.  See it here

University takes iPad into Trenches of Pompeii

Years ago I took an archaeology course at the University of Cincinnati.  At the time, the professor considered the appropriate technology choices for recording ancient finds a clipboard, paper, and pencil.

Using a gridded piece of paper you brought to the dig site, you drew a major physical landmark as a reference point in a topmost grid and then marked all of your dig finds relative to that spot. This sheet of paper became a valuable work artifact for the archaeological project.

Of course, your paper might get dirty, wet, partially destroyed, or lost. Plus, somebody later had to decipher and transfer all of your pencil marks into an electronic document for computerized analysis.

The common archaeological task of recording field data is changing. To this point, computers have not been portable or durable enough to take down into a dirty pit nor have they had adequate battery life.  Today, touch-screen tablets may have overcome those issues and could provide a great platform for dirty field work.

On a recent project, the University of Cincinnati adopted the Apple iPad to simplify the massive data collection involved with archaeology. Steven Ellis, the assistant professor of classics at UC, used a half-dozen iPads to digitize his team's findings from excavating an entire neighborhood in Pompeii.

The team used iPad apps such as  FMTouch, Pages, iDraw, and OmniGraffle

For more information, read about the Pompeii project in general and the use of iPads on the project, or see the UC case study on the Apple website.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Enterprise Mobile Today Article - Mobile BI on the Apple iPad

See Gerry Blackwell's recent Enterprise Mobile Today article on using the Apple iPad for BI.  He asks the question, why isn't your BI vendor doing mobile business intelligence on the iPad?

Gerry and I had talked about my opinions why the iPad was a great platform for business intelligence.  Gerry also investigated a variety of BI products already available on the iPad, such as Extended Results' PushBI, MeLLmo's Roambi, MicroStrategy, and QlikTech's QlikView.

Rather than being locked into any particular front-end, smart companies today are looking for BI applications to become "universal."  BI should not just be on the desktop.  You should be able to get to the information on your phone or mobile device, regardless of the brand you selected.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

BI Modernization FAQs

This past year, the Kencura Systems team has kept busy converting legacy reporting applications into web-based BI products.

With the business intelligence market consolidation of the big mega-vendors (IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP) and an industry move to web-based reporting products, companies are replacing their legacy reporting applications with modern technologies. Many of these application conversions have also involved platform changes. 

Converting these large applications manually would take too long, cost too much, and be too risky.  Because of that, we automate as much of the process as possible.

I get asked lots of questions about how we accomplish this seemingly impossible task, so here are my responses to some common FAQs. 

What is DAPPER?

DAPPER is a toll-gate project methodology for addressing the complexity of converting legacy reporting applications into modern enterprise web-based BI products.  DAPPER is an acronym for our major conversion steps: Discovery, Analysis, Pilot Project, Project Plan, Execute Plan, and Retire Legacy Product.  

Do you have BI Modernization software tools?

Kencura Systems uses the "BI Analyzer" and "BI Transformer" which are components of a proprietary software application that automates many of the tasks performed during a legacy BI modernization initiative.  Written in C/C++, the application is quite small and fast -- the entire application takes less than 4 megabyte of disk space. Depending on the technology being converted, the software can process hundreds if not thousands of programs per minute.

What is the BI Analyzer?

During initial Discovery and Analysis steps, we use a feature called the BI Analyzer to scan legacy BI application and inventory the details into a data repository.  Using software to perform this activity dramatically reduces the manual effort, cutting down on the time and cost of performing upfront conversion analysis. This database provides details for scoping the work effort and performing the later conversion tasks.  Using scanned inventory data, we can automatically generate analysis and project-related documents. 

Does the BI Analyzer scan company data?

The BI Analyzer scans application code such as program logic, metadata, web launch pages, batch jobs, and so forth.  We do not need access to any of the underlying data. Kencura Systems does not use client scanned application data for any purpose other than to perform the conversion engagement.

What is the BI Transformer?

When executing the conversion plan, we use a feature called the BI Transformer which can read legacy code and automatically translate the syntax to a web-based alternative.

From which reporting languages does the BI Transformer currently convert?

We have used the BI Transformer in client engagements to convert SQL, QMF/SQL, NOMAD 4GL, FOCUS 4GL, Oracle Portal, and Crystal Reports.  We are currently investigating parsing other languages such as IBM Cognos Impromptu and SAS.

To which BI products does the BI Transformer currently convert?

Currently, we convert legacy reporting applications into WebFOCUS, the enterprise BI product from Information Builders. We are also investigating a new generator capable of producing IBM Cognos.

Is your conversion process "Point-to-Point" or do you have a "Canonical?"
A smart person asked this question. Rephrased, the question is: does your conversion tool only work with specific combinations (such as NOMAD-to-WebFOCUS) or does it translate the old language into a standard (a "canonical") and then re-translate that to another language (and is then theoretically anything-to-anything)?  The answer is that we started out with some point-to-point features but have since moved to a true canonical translation process. We have parsers that understand how to read a legacy language and convert it to the canonical.  We then have generators that can read the canonical and generate the web-based BI syntax. 

What languages can the BI Analyzer scan?

We can quickly create scanning capabilities for any text-based language.  In addition to the languages that the BI Analyzer can currently convert, we also have scanning capabilities for SAS, Brio SQR, RPG, COBOL, and others.  As an example, for the SAS product we can automatically determine the complexity of applications by scanning for statistical analysis procedures, screens, output file creation, reports, database updates, and so forth.  If you have a little-used reporting tool that is in a simple text format (let's say something like mainframe CA/EARL or DYL/280), then we could still put together a simple keyword scanning feature within a day. 

What else can the BI Transformer do?

We have also enhanced the conversion application to perform general mass-string conversions and specific conversion tasks.  For example, we automated the conversion of changing hundreds of userids from mainframe security to Active Directory. We translated hundreds of HTML web pages using CGI calls to instead use Java servlets.  We translated hundreds of mainframe batch jobs (MVS JCL) to call WebFOCUS instead of FOCUS.

Does it work?

Absolutely.  The predecessor of the BI Transformer was first created and used successfully in the early 1990s for a large consumer goods product firm here in Cincinnati.  About ten years later, the concept was rewritten into a web-based application.  During one of the first engagements of the next generation, a Fortune 50 financial services firm won a ComputerWorld award for automating hundreds of legacy mainframe ad-hoc report user libraries to a web-based BI product.  Estimated to take years and cost millions of dollars, the project was instead done in three months at a fraction of the cost. Since then, we have successfully used the software at other well-known companies and government agencies.  If you would like, you can talk with our happy clients.

How much do the BI modernization tools cost?

Kencura Systems does not sell the BI Analyzer or BI Transformer as formal software products. Instead, our consultants use it on our services engagements to speed the project. If, however, you do not want our services to perform the conversion project, we could work out a software licensing arrangement. 

Where are the BI modernization tools installed?

Typically, we do not install the BI modernization tools within the customer's environment. Instead, the software is usually on a stand-alone computer belonging to Kencura Systems. 

Some firms have secure that prohibits the sharing of legacy source code. For those clients, we can implement the tools differently; see this article on handling BI Modernization Initiatives in a secure environment

How can my company benefit from DAPPER and BI Modernization?

If you have a legacy reporting application that needs to be converted to a web-based product as quickly, safely, and cost-effectively as possible, please contact me.  We work directly with the company using the BI software or with their services partners who need assistance reducing the time, cost, and risk of performing legacy conversions. 

You may also be interested in these articles:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Big Blue Knows How to Blog

IBM does a great job supporting employees who have personal blogs.  While other vendors might try to police what employees and/or partners say publicly (or just shut them down completely), IBM actively helps internal bloggers.

IBM started an internal blogging site called BlogCentral in 2003.  IBM realizes it is in the company's best interest for employees not only to learn personally but to contribute to others' learning. Knowledge stored in one person's head only is of limited corporate value; if you can get each person to formally document his or her know-how then many others might benefit.

Of course, IBM does not want a creative writing free-for-all.  The company has put together formal guidelines for those individuals with personal web blogs read by the public. Basic advice from Big Blue to their employee bloggers includes: be yourself, add value, don't pick fights, and don't forget your day job.

While investigating IBM's blogging practices, I also came across an interesting research paper on IBM's Blog Muse, a tools to help connect individuals looking for specific content with those who could provide it. See the document here.

See the IBM public blog site for more information.

Facebook Modernizing to C++

Facebook is improving its website by converting PHP, a web scripting language, to the low-level C++ language.  I'm shouting hallelujahs!

Worried that C++ was too dangerous for the web in the early 1990s, the software industry ripped out scary features, made it run from a managed server, and renamed it Java.

Almost a decade ago, I searched everywhere for books on how to write C++ web programs and could not find a thing. Due to my obstinate nature, I moved forward anyway and created my own custom C++ modules to communicate with web servers and dynamically generate HTML.  Today, my browser-based automated BI translation tools all utilize a simple C++ web architecture.  They are super fast and function effectively.  

Using plain old C/C++ for web applications is a great idea but few seem to leverage it.  I am happy to see that big-name companies like Facebook are on board with it.

See the Facebook story here.

Eponymous Pickle Blog

Here it is the middle of November and Franz Dill has blogged over 1220 times this year -- that is about five times every workday.  And Franz is not like Guy Kawasaki with automated tools to generate random posts (sorry, Guy).

Franz manually writes each day on his Eponymous Pickle blog, providing readers with high quality content related to emerging technologies.

I was lucky enough to have lunch with Franz this week and learn more about his work.

At the beginning of 2005, Franz started his personal blog, but was already a professional blogger for the Procter & Gamble Company where he was a chief scientist and an emergent technologist.  Franz wrote content for P&G's innovation centers, which specialize in consumer product research and development.

Franz often writes articles of interest to individuals interested in Business Intelligence software.  For example, please see the following:

Data Mining for Education
SpotFire on the Apple iPad
New Data Visualization Tool
Cindi Howson on Cool BI

Ventana Research Names IBI a Leader

Ventana Research recently named Information Builders, the software vendor of the WebFOCUS BI product, one of their vendor technology leaders.  For more information, see the IBI press release.

Do you use WebFOCUS?

If you use the WebFOCUS BI product from Information Builders (or want to compare it to the leading BI software products available on the market such as IBM Cognos, SAP Business Objects, SAS, Oracle OBIEE, MicroStrategy, or Actuate and need to understand the differences to make a purchasing decision), be sure to see my other blog which is dedicated to the WebFOCUS technology.

Contact me at DLau....

Monday, November 1, 2010

Where are the BI Jobs?

Every so often, I skim through the Business Intelligence software jobs posted in Monster and file away some numbers in a spreadsheet.

Do you know where 80% of the BI jobs are?

It's probably obvious, but these openings are consolidated into some mega-vendors--SAS, SAP, IBM, and Microsoft.  Here are my unofficial, unscientific counts:

  • SAS -- 25.7% of the BI jobs that I tracked for major vendors (non-open source)
  • SAP BusinessObjects -- 17.38% (does not include Crystal Reports)
  • IBM Cognos -- 15.67% 
  • Crystal Reports -- 12.86%
  • Microsoft Reporting Services -- 9.79% 

SAP BusinessObjects and Crystal Reports
Okay, here's the problem.  I may be counting SAP BusinessObjects Crystal Reports jobs in two different categories.  If the jobs for BusinessObjects and Crystal Reports were mutually exclusive, then SAP would be the clear winner with over 30% of the BI jobs.  But I suspect that many Crystal Reports job postings have BO.

Personally, I'm shocked that Crystal Reports demand is so high. It's slightly down from when I started tracking it in January 2009, but showing a nice increase from January 2010.  Hmm, here is a legacy Windows-based desktop reporting tool that is generating job growth.  This comes at a time when some companies tell me they are getting rid of Crystal Reports.

But one of my healthcare clients clued me in on something else happening.  He is hiring three Crystal Reports developers despite owning a web-based enterprise BI product. Why? Because his organization is implementing a new EPIC healthcare system that comes with...drum-roll...Crystal Reports.

Getting your software product embedded inside other vendors' packaged applications is a winning business approach.  Just ask Oracle. But wait, where is mega-vendor Oracle on the BI job list?

Perhaps I'm not fair to Oracle in how I search for BI jobs.  I want to filter out the gazillion Oracle database and application jobs out there and only count the business intelligence ones.  To do that, I just look for "OBIEE."  Right or wrong, those only add up to about 2% of the total BI jobs, but the figure has doubled since I started watching.

I should also mention that demand for MicroStrategy skills is right there above Oracle OBIEE.

IBM Cognos
IBM wants to be your one-stop business shop for all things computer related.  Before IBM acquired the company, Cognos had already transitioned into a billion dollar BI success. It is no wonder that job demand is high for IBM Cognos products.

Should we be awed by the tremendous demand for SAS BI professionals?  There are almost 1800 postings in Monster for SAS jobs, accounting for a quarter of all the BI jobs for all the vendor products.  Parents, send your kid to a statistics course!

Other BI Vendors
I don't want to embarrass the BI vendors at the bottom of the list.  But why is that -- how can a leading BI vendor have such little demand for its product in the job market?  I imagine they would tell me that their product is so easy to use that companies can use existing employees (LOL).

Legacy Reporting Tools and Open Source
Surprisingly, some old legacy reporting tools are still out there in slight demand but obviously declining--Brio and SQR are examples. For the open-source technologies (for example, BIRT and Pentaho), those just don't seem to be going anywhere quickly.

Emerging: QlikTech's QlikView
One BI product toward the bottom of the job list deserves attention.  Watch out for QlikTech's QlikView.  Demand for that at the beginning of 2010 was pretty much non-existent (but in January 2009 I might have looked only for company and not product name), but not so today. Companies are buying it and QlikTech is moving into the hot mobile BI tablet marketspace with an Apple iPad application.

Mobile BI 
Speaking of which, at the beginning of 2010 I also started tracking job postings for iPhone. The number of openings has since then almost doubled.  The same thing has happened with iPad jobs (and I didn't look until mid-2010).  If you are looking for a fun job in a hot software arena, consider the mobile space.

I will keep an eye on Monster for BI jobs for you. I am interested in your thoughts so please post comments.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Disappearing Business Intelligence Products

A recent conversation with a Business Intelligence software vendor did not go well for me.  I told them that I knew of close to a dozen local companies who had either already eliminated their BI product or were planning to do so.  I saw it as a disturbing trend and asked how I could help.

They did not deny the facts.  Instead, they took my comment as a personal attack and never want to talk to me again.

I truly feel sorry for sales people working for BI software vendors.  It is a tough job even for the market leaders, much less the underdogs.  Sales people must often sell brand new innovations that nobody else has yet bought, recent technology that may or may not yet have any referenceable accounts, or legacy products that other companies are getting rid of.

By the nature of their jobs, software sales people are forced to ignore reality.  Their sole responsibility is to sell their company's product A, B, or C.  Just figure out how to make people buy it.  If they can't, they are put on the infamous "performance improvement plan" (which is BI vendorspeak for "You have three months to find another job"). 

Software sales reps have to pretend that their product is the right one for the prospect and keep pushing the decision maker for a purchase.  That is a tough job and I sympathize with what they go through.

My personal problem is that sales people who have to ignore facts hate people like me who point out the facts.

Which reminds me of a funny story.  Presenting at a seminar, a vendor rep claimed, "After implementing our software, company ABC saw a 300% decrease in project costs!"  A hand immediately went up in the crowd.  "I'm sorry, but if you eliminate all costs that is a 100% savings.  How is it possible to reduce costs by 300%?"  The perturbed sales rep countered with, "I'll send you the white paper."

Facts get in the way of a good sales pitch.

Sales people do not want to discuss problems customers are having with their software.  They do not want to know about bugs in their products. 

But that's not completely true.  More correctly, sales people do not want their prospects and customers to hear any negatives.  If I have the audacity to point out troubling facts to the BI vendor, they are worried I will pass that along to the market in general.

Sales reps should remember Sun-Tzu's famous saying, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."  I have never heard anybody recommend "Take a hike, jerk" as a life mantra.

The BI software market is consolidating.  The mega-vendors (IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle) purchased the pure BI vendors that will survive into the future.  SAS leads the statistical BI market as a pure BI vendor, but the other BI firms face tough times.

In general, companies are replacing their existing BI products with those from the mega-vendor list.  Legacy reporting tools are being eliminated and replaced with modern technologies.  If a vendor's BI product did not make the jump to the web, it is probably dead.

If that BI tool is not prepared to move onto mobile tablet computing, it might also be headed for the scrap heap. Howard Dresner points out a predictive fact in a recent study on mobile BI.  A third of the people he surveyed said they would move to new technology that supported mobile BI.

Don't you just hate facts?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Forrester Wave Q4 2010 for Enterprise BI Platforms

Looking at my blog statistics, I see people searching the web for a list of hot BI companies and products. Many want a comparison of the different technologies available so that they can make a better purchasing decision.

One of the best ways to understand the BI software market is to pay for some research from the industry analysts, such as Gartner, Forrester Research, and Yankee Group. Their reports may cost you from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

If you can't afford the details, you can often find high-level summaries that give away the highlights for free.

For example, Boris Evelson at Forrester Group recently released his latest research on Enterprise BI Platforms. You can find out more about the Q4 2010 Forrester Wave on Boris' Information Management blog.

As expected, Boris points out that the mega-vendors continue to be the clear Business Intelligence leaders. However, it is not just about their software products; they are able to provide customers with "overall information management functionality."
  • IBM Cognos
  • SAP BusinessObjects
  • Oracle
  • SAS

In this release, Boris has upgraded some other familiar vendor names into the Leaders category: 
  • Information Builders
  • Microsoft
  • MicroStrategy

Outside of these premier Leaders, Boris has categories for a runner-up "Strong Performer" and a lurking bunch of "Contenders." Already in the Strong Performer group were: 
  • TIBCO Spotfire
  • Actuate

Boris moved two BI players out of their Contender role and into the Strong Performer group: 
  • QlikTech
  • Panarama Software

The mega-vendors clearly provide an entire "stack of technologies" that includes hardware, software, and complementary products and services. They want you to buy everything from them as the sole preferred vendor.

While that might be a safe enterprise decision, Boris recommends considering privately-held Information Builders as a serious alternative to the very large vendors. IBI has its own integrated stack of BI products:
  • Universal Metadata and Data Access Layer
  • WebFOCUS Reporting Server for web-based on-demand access
  • User interfaces for the entire enterprise of varying needs
  • WebFOCUS Distribution Server/ReportCaster for automated information delivery
  • iWay Software ETL for batch data movements
  • iWay Software Service Manager for real-time data movements
  • Database update capabilities
  • Custom database
  • Broad support for multiple platforms, databases, and web technologies

Boris also points out that SAS "continues to amaze the market with uninterrupted 32-year growth."  It is truly awe-inspiring that Jim Goodnight took a college project for analyzing agriculture and turned it into a multi-billion dollar product.  SAS is truly the stuff software legends are made of.  

Keep an eye on QlikTech which has been a darling in Europe and is starting to be hot here in the United States. Boris acknowledges QlikTech as a real BI vendor following its successful IPO.

Be sure to see Boris' complete research, including the detail 147 evaluation criteria and vendor specifics.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Apple Prepares iPad for the Enterprise

In the 1990s, some of Microsoft's software products were not considered for wide enterprise usage.  Take SQL Server, for example.  It was okay for small departmental solutions, but for large amounts of data you had to use Oracle or DB2.  Microsoft changed all of that and became a major corporate IT vendor.

Watch Apple do something similar with the iPad.  Readers of my blog have commented that Apple is just a consumer company and will not really get into the corporate enterprise computing arena. 

I think the times they are a changing. 

Here is an indication that Apple is serious about winning in both the consumer and enterprise markets.  In November 2010, Apple will release the new iOS 4.2 operating system for the iPad.

Apple is adding the following corporate features to their tablet computer: 
  • Data Protection (encrypted e-mails, attachments, and API calls)
  • Wireless App Distribution (your company's very own WiFi App Store)
  • Improved Corporate Mail (better support for Microsoft Exchange)
  • Mobile Device Management (like how IT locked down business mobile phones)
  • SSL VPN Support (secure connections to enterprise resources)
  • WiFi Printing (background Print Center applications)

Of course, Apple isn't the only tablet maker eyeing the enterprise.  Microsoft and HP want their mobile products selling inside corporations and are sure to announce similar enterprise features.  Apple needed to preempt those guys. 

The bottom line here is that mobile tablet business computing is coming to your organization! 

Are you ready?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hiring Manager of Talent Acquisition and Training in Cincinnati, Ohio

To prepare for its continued growth, Partner Professional Staffing, the parent company of Partner Intelligence, is hiring a Manager of Talent Acquisition and Training at its Cincinnati, Ohio, headquarters.

For more information, see this link.

Tweeting BI versus Blogging BI

Lately, I have been buried up to my neck in a large consulting engagement to automatically convert Crystal Reports applications to use a modern web-based BI product. 

Large software rationalization and modernization projects typically cost millions of dollars and take years to complete, but we are working hard on this one to automate most of the manual effort. 

By the time I get back to the hotel room each night, I have little energy to write blog entries. At a minimum, I have tried to do some quick tweets from my Apple iPad. 

If you do not follow me on Twitter, here are some of the things you may have missed:

Notre Dame evaluating iPads as textbook replacements.

MicroStrategy COO tells why tablets are here to stay.

Ohio bans government IT offshoring.

One of top IT skills in 2011? BI.

SAS eyes BI growth in India.

The Tablet War.

MicroStrategy BI vendor switches to iPads.

American workers: be high-skilled or be left behind.

Free Audiobook of classic book on Christian Leadership.

Salary Benchmarking led to crazy Executive Compensations.

CSC report examines Health IT Worker Shortage.

Will iPad take Apple into the corporate arena?

Will e-Readers lose to Tablets?

When we stop buying physical books, what will book stores sell?

Could a 1950s retro makeover help our USPS?

iPhones driving surge in Apple Mac enterprise sales?

Dresner ready to release Mobile BI Study results.

Merv Adrian explains IDC BI market numbers.

Decline of American Television.

Come over to my Pad.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Apple in the BI Space?

Earlier today, Lizette Chapman at Fast Company wrote about Apple's $46 billion in cash reserves.

Investors are asking the company to use that to pay out dividends, but Steve Jobs wants to keep sitting on the dough.  Steve says:
We know if we need to acquire something--a piece of the puzzle to make something big and bold--we can write a check for it and not borrow a lot of money and put our whole company at risk.  The cash in the bank gives us tremendous security and flexibility.

If Steve wanted, he could take a small chunk of that money--not much, perhaps just a billion or two--and buy one of the few remaining pure Business Intelligence software vendors.  Apple could then leverage the acquired BI infrastructure and and build a nice BI front-end for the iPad.

That would classify as "big and bold."  Today, the BI software space is dominated by four mega-vendors: IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP.  All of these big companies acquired BI vendors.  Why not Apple?

My blog gets hit constantly by people looking for information about BI on the iPad and other mobile devices.  People want it.  Apple could buy it.  It would work.

Apple already has a Business Intelligence webpage showing other vendors' BI apps on the iPhone and iPad.  Using some of its cash, Apple could be a winner in the BI space.

Candidates for Steve to buy include Actuate, MicroStrategy, and Information Builders.  Personally, I would suggest that Apple acquire privately-held Information Builders' for their BI product WebFOCUS and their enterprise integration technology called iWay Software.

The WebFOCUS architecture works well as a powerful BI engine for Safari-based web applications.  So it already works today on the iPad.  Just to take things to that "big and bold" level, however, Apple could implement a beautiful touchscreen BI application to sit on top of WebFOCUS.

Of course, the product name WebFOCUS is right up there with "horseless carriage."  Apple will surely change that to something snappy like iBI (which is what most people call it today because of the vendor's initials), Apple Info, or Apple Knowledge. 

The iWay Software already has the Apple "i" at the beginning!  Still, I would make a name change recommendation--since enterprise integration is plumbing, the glue that holds things together, etc.--I would go with Apple Sauce.

With $46 billion in cash, Steve should have no problem becoming one of the BI software mega-vendors if he wants.

Are You in the Steven Slater Fan Club?

On this Friday the 13th, our celebrity du jour is Steven Slater, a disgruntled jetBlue flight attendant who earlier this week gave a memorable job notice over the loud speaker and slid down the airplane's emergency chute with two beers.

Depending on your point of view, Steven Slater is either a hero, a jerk, or a criminal.

So which is it? Are you in the "Steven Slater Fan Club?"

Since a blog should contain personal opinions, here is mine. Every day, each of us plays a societal role. We are each a professional in a chosen profession. Steven Slater professes he loves the airline industry and this is the role he has chosen to play.  He just decided to stop playing that role on that particular flight.

In the excellent book "The Reflective Practitioner," Donald Schön wrote:
In the traditional professional-client contract, the professional acts as though he agreed to deliver his services to the client to the limits of his special competence, to respect the confidences granted him, and not to misuse for his own benefit the special powers given him within the boundaries of the relationship. The client acts as though he agreed, in turn, to accept the professional’s authority in his special field, to submit to the professional’s ministrations, and to pay for services rendered. In a familiar psychological extension of the informal contract, the client agrees to show deference to the professional. He agrees not to challenge the professional’s judgment or to demand explanations beyond the professional’s willingness to give them. In short, he agrees to behave as though he respected the professional’s autonomy as an expert.

Here is a summary of Schön's points. As a professional, each of us is expected to deliver our services in an agreed-upon way, respect the confidences given to us by the client, and not misuse our power. In exchange, we expect clients to render some type of compensation for our services, respect our authority, and follow the advice that we give.

The jetBlue story is still being sorted out, but initial indications pointed to an unruly foul-mouthed passenger who disrespected Steven's professional role. Responding in a likewise unprofessional fashion, Steven called it quits in a way that will be recorded forever in Internet History.

There was misuse of professional power; by deploying the emergency chute, Slater basically grounded the plane until everything was put back to normal (reports say three hours minimum).  Because of this, he probably delayed jetBlue passengers on several flights.

We might find that story erroneous and discover that Steven created the mess with no assistance (if so, he should have waited until Friday the 13th for more impact!).

Personally, I see an issue in our American culture where we have pushed the concept of individualism to a point where we have lost our personal humility (and I am speaking as an expert in lifelong humility issues).

It is one thing to have individual freedom, but quite another to go to an extreme where we become totally self-centered and lose compassion for other individuals. At that point, we lose sight of our personal role in society and behave inappropriately. We demand respect while dishing out disrespect on everybody else around us.

Lots of people might join the "Steven Slater Fan Club," but in the "I'm the Only Important Person Fan Club," there is room for just one member.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why Amazon and Apple Will Not Kill Each Other

When Farhad Manjoo is not battling angry tweeters over his allegedly racist Slate article on "blacktags," he is writing interesting material about hot technology topics.

In the most recent September 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine, Farhad wrote a Tech Edge article called "The End of Winner-Take-All."  Farhad predicts that certain tech markets will result in stalemates instead of one company wiping out all other contenders.

As examples of two potential market dominators, Farhad points out the Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad. Rather than be enemies, Amazon and Apple might just have reasons to play nicely. 

I use Amazon's Kindle app and think it is the best e-reader for the iPad -- better than Kobo, Stanza, eReader, or even Apple's iBook.  Thanks to this app, my iPad becomes a front-end to the Amazon bookstore, which I prefer to those from competitors such as Borders or Barnes & Nobles.

Farhad writes:
Speaking to investors, [Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos pointed out that because Kindle books are delivered across the Internet to a range of devices--including the iPad--Amazon might actually benefit from the Apple tablet's popularity.  The more iPads Apple sells, the more potential Amazon customers.  Bezos is wise to ignore the calls for Amazon to make the Kindle more like the iPad.  The Kindle will be a gadget whose only purpose is to read books.  Bezos concedes that such a device isn't for everyone, but 'serious readers' will always prefer a dedicated e-reader.

This cooperative thinking is foreign to the BI software market where each mega-vendor wants to supply the entire "technology stack" for a company's architecture.

Personally, I hope that Farhad is correct and Amazon and Apple will be buddies in the competitive e-reader market space (I love them both!).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

U.S. Taxpayers Fund IT Offshoring in Sri Lanka

When your August 9th issue of the InformationWeek magazine comes in the mail, be sure to turn to page 18 and read the short article on IT Outsourcing. If you do not have a subscription, here is what Paul McDougall wrote:
The U.S. Agency for International Development will contribute $10 million to $36 million to train workers, including 3,000 IT specialists, in Sri Lanka.

The federal agency will partner with private outsourcers in that country to teach workers advanced IT skills such as Enterprise Java programming, business process outsourcing, and call center support. USAID will also help the trainees brush up on their English.

Following their training, the workers will be placed with outsourcing vendors in the region that provide offshore IT services to U.S. companies looking to take advantage of the Asian subcontinent's low labor costs.

The outsourcing program is part of a larger effort to create 10,000 jobs in Sri Lanka in IT, construction, and the garment industry. But it's the outsourcing program that's drawing fire from critics. President Obama has pledged to retain more high-tech jobs in the U.S. in IT, biological sciences, and green energy.

I wonder who convinced the U.S. government to chose Sri Lanka as a new source of cheap IT workers (perhaps programmers in Tamil Nadu are getting too pricey)?  Evidently, the $60 billion offshoring industry could always use some assistance from American taxpayers.

A key phrase in the article might be "U.S. companies looking to take advantage of…"

We have come to accept the business fact that U.S. companies do not want to hire American workers because we are too expensive. Instead, highly-paid executives at those firms make a financial case for their wise decision to pay a fraction of U.S. salaries to individuals on the other side of the planet.

Perhaps here is a good place for President Obama to introduce some of his Change. For example, why not send some federal IT training money to low-wage workers in Jonesboro, Arkansas or Van Wert, Ohio?

It's an idea that many Americans are pushing. If you have not heard of "rural outsourcing," and how Arkansas might be able to compete with India, see the 2010 July CNNMoney article.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The UI for which You Will Shave Your Head

Researchers from down under in Australia want to bring the user interface up on top -- the top of your head, that is.

While it evokes images of Star Trek Borgs and jacked-in softies from William Gibson's matrix stories, a new "brain-reading" headset may just change the way we work with computers.  The tagline for the Emotiv EPOC brain-computer interface is "you think, therefore, you can."

Because each brain is different, Emotiv EPOC comes with software for calibrating each individual's thoughts.  You select a mental activity (e.g., pull, push, go left, go right, or disappear) and think about doing it for a few seconds while the application listens in on your brain's neural snaps, crackles, and pops.  Using EEG signals from the headset, the software records your brain-wave patterns. 

When you use other software, the headset watchs your EEG for similar activities, decides on your mental objective, and passes that command to your computer application ("Hey, WoW!  The gamer is thinking about moving to the right!").

In addition to capturing brainwaves, the headset watches for head tilting and facial movements that can be passed along as commands to an application.  One practical example of use would be for an individual in a wheelchair who is unable to use a joystick to control movement.  Instead, he or she can command the wheelchair to go left, right, straight, or back mentally and/or through head and facial movements.

While the technology's capabilities seem out of this world, its price is realistic -- just $299 for the headset and then some extra expenses for software that knows what to do with your brainwaves.  For developers and researchers, Emotiv offers a variety of software options, from a "lite" SDK for free download, all the way up to an "enterprise plus" development license for $7500.

You can watch a recorded live demonstration of the headset at the TED website.

If this really takes off, be prepared to see technology innovators with unique haircuts!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Our Future App Society

Here in the United States, we believe that each person has the right to own a house, a car, and a variety of sundry items. Thanks to our consumer mentality, we have a sophisticated advertising industry, a financial crisis, a government-sponsored "Cash for Clunkers" program, a burgeoning storage unit industry, and very few stay-at-home parents.

In the not-too-distant past, Americans had public pay-phones and party-line rotary telephones.  Today, even children have their own pocket-sized mobile phones.  Most American families have at least one television and computer.

Of course, America is not like the rest of the world.  About 93% of the world's population does not own an automobile.  If you make over $50K, you are in the top 1% of the world's wealthiest people.

How far will America go?  I'm predicting that each American will soon have....

His or her own App.  Musicians like Madonna have their own apps. NFL players like Chad Ocho Cinco are also blazing the path for personal apps, partnering with others for their app software development firm.  See Chad's app (wait, don't just see it -- buy it!) on his webpage or in the Apple app store. 

Also emerging with their own personal apps are our elected officials.  See the American Congress personal apps at Sympatico's webpage.

When will you have your own personal app?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Q2 Results Make MicroStrategy Giddy -- Giving Away Their BI Software!

After announcing 2010 Q2 results of a 41% year-over-year increase in license revenue, MicroStrategy is giddy.  So much, in fact, that they are giving away BI software!

Russell Lantier, a Business Development Manager for MicroStrategy, let me know about these two great offers:

MicroStrategy Free Reporting Suite:

MicroStrategy Free Mobile BI Suite:

For the Free Reporting Suite, MicroStrategy is giving you a one-CPU server license, 100 named user licenses, two developer licenses, and two licenses for the "full end-user experience."

MicroStrategy claims that their BI offering for iPhone/iPad and BlackBerry is 100x more impactful than using BI on your desktop.  Check out their offer and decide for yourself.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

IBM Continues Buying Spree

IBM just completed its purchase of web analytics company Coremetrics, right after buying Sterling Commerce, SPSS, and dozens of other software vendors.

Here is what KMWorld had to say about the deal:
IBM reports the Coremetrics acquisition will enhance its ability to help businesses rapidly gain intelligence into social networks and online media sources through a cloud-based delivery model, and use this insight to create smarter, more effective marketing campaigns.

Further, it explains, Coremetrics’ offerings can provide real-time intelligence on what consumers are saying about the products and services being offered to them and allow clients to make fact-based, accurate decisions on marketing expenditures. As a result, IBM claims, marketing teams can gain deeper insight about their consumers and present personalized recommendations, promotions and other sales incentives across a variety of channels where consumers interact with their brands. These channels span traditional outlets such as storefronts and catalogs and newer outlets including all forms of e-commerce and social media.

This is secret, so please do not repeat it, but my inside source at IBM says that next on their checklist of acquisitions are Smuckers, The Ohio State University Stadium, the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, and North Carolina.

Note: just a week later IBM acquired Datacap, a document capture  and management software vendor based in Tarryton, NY.

QlikTech meeting Consumer Expectations of BI with QlikView

Erica Driver at QlikTech just blogged about the difference between the technologies we use at home (such as the Apple iPad) and those at work (such as a Windows workstation). 

Wait...should there be any difference?

Why would your employer force on you a user interface that you wouldn't accept at home?

See how the BI product QlikView meets the "consumer" expectation of Business Intelligence software.

IBM Cognos offers Mid-Market Cost Busters

IBM partners reselling Cognos solutions have a new weapon in their arsenal: tailored financing from IBM Global Financing.

The "Cost Buster" option helps IBM partners overcome small-to-medium prospects' objections that they cannot afford the solution. 

For example, the IBM partner can offer a total solutions bundle consisting of Cognos BI and performance management software, SPSS predictive analytics software, and System x hardware and software, along with special financing (which can start at zero percent with terms ranging from monthly to 12 or 18 months).  The customer can finance everything except the partner's services.

IBM understands that their mid-market clients have three main concerns when purchasing a BI solution:
  • Return on Investment
  • Financial impact 
  • Time to Value 

The Cost Buster is designed to address all three issues.  And guess what?  IBM pays the channel partner a bonus for including these financial services.

This is just another example of IBM intelligently and aggressively pushing their Cognos and SPSS products to remain a strong leader in the hot BI software marketspace.

See ITChannelPlanet for more information.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Free Advice -- How to Replace Your Legacy 4GL!

For a limited time, Partner Intelligence will help your organization--FREE OF COST--analyze its current legacy 4GL environment.  Common 4GL products still installed at organizations include FOCUS, NOMAD, and RAMIS. 

It's the 21st century and time to retire old technologies. Your company may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually supporting out-dated software products.  The original developers have retired and your modern technologists want nothing to do with hand-me-down applications.

Partner Intelligence has a suite of software applications that can automatically scan, inventory, and analyze your 4GL applications.  FREE OF COST, we will provide you with a summarized and detailed inventory of everything your FOCUS, NOMAD, or RAMIS programs do, along with suggestions on how to replace them with modern products such as IBM Cognos or IBI WebFOCUS. 

(For more information on our DAPPER methodology and automated BI Modernization Workbench suite, see my earlier blogs. Did I mention this is FREE OF COST?)

Contact us immediately if you are interested in ridding your organization of these legacy technologies.w

2013 Note: this offer has ended but please contact us if you need to convert legacy 4GL products. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vendor Uses Friends to Kill Enemies

Longfellow told a story about a crafty crow who dropped a string of golden beads near a snake.  A man passing by saw the beads and, in order to retrieve them, killed the snake.  As the moral of the story, Longfellow wrote:
Method is more important than strength when you wish to control your enemies.

Sandy Carter, a VP for IBM, is applying Longfellow's story to the competitve world of BI software.  Not that IBM doesn't have strength that it could use, but this approach is classier than just banging together the heads of the other vendor's sales team.

She has promised incentives to IBM partners to go after other mega-vendors such as SAP, Oracle, HP, and Sun Microsystems.  In her "Up to Double Software Value Incentives (SVI)" campaign, Sandy will pay partners a bonus of up to 40% of the contract's value (twice what they would normally get) when they knock off a competitor's product.

In particular Sandy wants IBM Cognos partners to eliminate the following products from customers' shops:
  • Oracle Discover
  • Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher
  • Hyperion Enterprise
  • Pillar
  • Brio
  • Essbase

On the database side, Sandy placed a bounty on the head of SAP's Sybase to any partners who replace it with IBM's DB2.

(See my earlier blog about Boris Evelson's observations that everybody in the BI marketspace is now a competitor.)

Consolidation of the BI software market is going to happen naturally, but Sandy is using her creative side to speed it up and make things interesting.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Partner Intelligence Announces Plans for IBM Cognos

In the Third Quarter 2010 TDWI Best Practices Report, director of research Wayne Eckerson released the results of a survey showing how companies are changing their Business Intelligence habits to cut costs. TDWI asked companies about the BI vendor strategies they had employed in the recent past and those they intend to use in the near future.

TDWI found that 22% of the companies surveyed had switched BI vendors in the past three years. Another 27% intended to switch BI vendors within the next three years.

Wow -- if this is indicative of U.S. companies in general, then almost half are getting rid of their current BI tools.

A quarter of the surveyed individuals said their companies had reduced the number of BI tools that they owned, consolidating them to a BI standard.  Another 40% said they intended to consolidate in the next three years. 

Bigger Wow -- that is almost three-quarters of the companies surveyed!

Partner Intelligence has helped well-known organizations replace legacy reporting tools quickly and cost-effectively.  To date, however, we have been limited in which BI tools we helped companies implement. 

I am happy to announce Partner Intelligence's intention to enhance our current BI Consolidator software suite to support the automated conversion of legacy tools into the IBM Cognos product.

We plan to focus on legacy mainframe reporting tools such as 1970s fourth generation languages such as FOCUS, RAMIS, and NOMAD, replacing them with IBM Cognos on the Series z platform.  (See my "Big Blue Cognos" blog from September 2008.)

We are also preparing for the automated replacement of BI implementations written in SAP Business Objects's Crystal Reports.

(See my "Leave a Legacy" blog from October 2008 for reasons why your company's applications should not be written in thirty year old 4GL software. 

See my "DAPPER" blog from October 2009 for more information on how we approach these legacy converstions with a formal methodology and automated software suite.)

If you are part of the majority of companies ditching their current BI vendors and products, I would like to talk about how we can work together to simplify your replacement process.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Defining Business Intelligence

Richard Herschel of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia would like to see everyone reach an agreement on an ongoing discussion: What is Business Intelligence? 

With a uniform definition, Herschel argues that "we could focus on what matters - outcomes."

His suggestion for a standard is:
"Business intelligence is the application of data, technology, and analytics to gain insight and knowledge that enables decisions about people, processes, products, and services that yield positive economic outcomes."
Read Herschel's entire article on the BeyeNETWORK.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pentaho BI Ad-Hoc for the iPad

A leading open source BI software provider, Pentaho, has a nice ad-hoc reporting tool for the Apple iPad. 

Richard Daley, the Pentaho CEO and co-founder, says:
"We've always been believers in Mobile BI as evidenced by being the first to support the iPhone and now the first to support ad-hoc analysis for the iPad. With technology like Analyzer, any business user can create reports in a couple of minutes with just the touch of a finger. It doesn't get much easier than this." 

Pentaho's ad-hoc Analyzer tool is quite impressive.  See the iPad video for yourself.

Mobile Intelligence from MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy, one of the leading Business Intelligence software vendors, is showing everybody how to take BI to mobile user interfaces.  They are in effect announcing the end of the desktop BI era, claiming that "using a mouse and keyboard is now outdated" and giving us notice that more intuitive replacements have arrived.

Their recently released whitepaper explains the importance of taking BI to handheld computers, predicting that it could "revolutionize business processes across every industry."

MicroStrategy positions Mobile Internet Computing as the latest technology cycle, following the established technologies of Mainframes, Mini Computers, Personal Computers, and PC Internet.  MicroStrategy points out that the smartphone adoption rate has outpaced that of PC technologies.
"The reasons are simple: these mobile devices provide constant connectivity and are convenient to carry, extremely powerful, and easy and fun to use. Unique capabilities aside, the number of people that can carry a smartphone is significantly greater than the number of people that take a laptop with them when away from the office."
MicroStrategy calculates that BI on a mobile device is 400 times more powerful than using BI on a desktop computer, based on the increased size of user population, the increased information opportunities, and a more natural user interface that expands personal query relevance.
Here is MicroStrategy's warning about ignoring this emerging Mobile Intelligence trend:  
"In the new era of Mobile Intelligence, businesses that presently don’t exist may evolve into industry leaders. Applications that are moderately valuable with the desktop Internet may be billion dollar applications when fully applied to the mobile Internet.  The next YouTube or Facebook hasn’t been invented yet, but will be designed as a mobile application. Organizations that stay with today’s desktop-based information distribution models may become obsolete, outpaced by those organizations that choose to thrive on the mobile Internet.

Organizations that embrace Mobile Intelligence will become leaner, faster, smarter decision-making machines resulting in more business, more revenue, and greater competitive advantage."

Of course, MicroStrategy would not be talking about Mobile Intelligence unless they saw themselves as a leader in this new marketspace:
"MicroStrategy 9 is well-suited to support the emerging and demanding needs of the new generation of Mobile Intelligence applications. Mobile Intelligence applications demand much faster performance and serve much larger user populations than traditional wired Internet applications. MicroStrategy offers Mobile Business Intelligence capabilities for the Apple iPhone and iPad, the BlackBerry Smartphone, and the Kindle DX, with an architecture that is engineered for the speed and performance required to rapidly deliver information on a mobile device."

Some industry analysts agree with MicroStrategy.  Wayne Eckerson from TDWI says this:
“MicroStrategy has recognized the importance of mobile for current and upcoming generations of BI users and has taken the lead in providing optimal mobile BI solutions for a range of devices. They’ve got the vision and are now executing. The competition is clearly in catch-up mode.”

Mark Smith of Ventana Research seconds that:
“Information is the energy that powers today's businesses. The use of mobile devices has outpaced the traditional desktop and is now a preferred method for many business professionals to consume information. With MicroStrategy Mobile, companies can assemble and deliver business intelligence applications for executives, operational workers, suppliers, and business partners much more rapidly and cost effectively than ever before through direct and native support of mobile platforms, including iPad and iPhone.”

For more information, see MicroStrategy's description of their iPhoneiPad, and BlackBerry offerings or their main Mobile Intelligence page.

And when you are ready to create a mobile BI application, MicroStrategy's Professional Services organization will be there to help.  For $15,000 USD, a consultant will come onsite for ten days.  At the end of the engagement not only will you have a full-featured mobile BI application, but MicroStrategy will also provide a mobile intelligence strategy document, a mobile application storyboard, and a mobile BI application video.  Your MicroStrategy mobile BI application will consist of a customized homepage, up to ten functional screens, and a combination of dashboards, data visualizations, and grids and graphs in a guided workflow. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Would you like to see our wine iList?

The Nation's Restaurant News asked their readers within foodservice organizations to provide interesting examples of using the Apple iPad.  Yesterday's NRN listed a few.

M Burger in Chicago has a practical use for the iPad internally to reduce paper in their small 400-square-foot restaurant.  Corporate chef Tim Hockett said,
"We're trying to get rid of all the clipboards and paper trails back there [in the kitchen].  We don't have the space for it."

Of course, the iPad is not just for use by operational use by the restaurant employees.  Naples Tomato in Naples, Florida, is working on an iPad wine list called Personal Sommeliers for iPad.  Guests within the Meditterranean restaurant will be able to browse, search, and select wines.  In addition, Naples Tomato will use the Apple iPad app as an educational tool to improve their staff's wine knowledge.

At Pandini's in Germantown, Maryland, customers can present photo IDs and check out iPads for use while in the restaurant.  Michael Hollen, VP of operations, is testing a program that would use the iPad to attract new diners and to build loyalty among their existing customers.  He says,
"The iPad is the hottest piece of technology in 2010, so it's a great perk for our guests.  Many of our guests come in and bring their computers or have newspapers.  Now, if they are clamoring to try the iPad, they can take one for a spin for free."

Since an iPad really isn't much bigger than the black credit card holders the wait staff carries around already, it could easily be used as a mobile restaurant ordering system.  In fact, orderTalk has already released an app to let customers order their own food on an iPad, iPhone, or iTouch.

orderTalk's CEO Patrick Eldon says:
“This application is perfect for restaurants that want a ‘line buster’ approach so customers can order in line and then have their order ready when they get to the counter.  It also works in casual dining, allowing guests to order and pay directly at their table from their personal or restaurant supplied devices.”

Mobile computers with easy access to a global network will continue to transform the way we work, live, and play.  This is not just some fancy technology suited for a small group of innovators.  Everybody will have one (or more). 

If you don't have an iPad yet, be sure to put it on your wish list so that, some day, you can have interesting stories to tell your grandchildren about the kind of apps you had back at the beginning of the century.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Official Breaking News: Partner Intelligence and Information Builders

It is official!

On Friday, the 2nd of July 2010, Information Builders announced their selection of Partner Intelligence as a Solution Partner, one of an elite group of trusted partners given the ability to resell the WebFOCUS Business Intelligence product.

Of course, since our first day in business in 2007, Partner Intelligence has been an Information Builders partner. But this change greatly expands our ability to serve our clients by offering solution bundles of both BI consulting services and software products.

We have always worked closely with Information Builders' Professional Services organization. In 2009, VP Bob Gabriel selected Partner Intelligence as his organization's preferred vendor for converting legacy reporting tools into the WebFOCUS product using our BI Consolidator application. Bob explained:

"We chose Partner Intelligence because of their success automating complex conversions of legacy technologies into WebFOCUS.  Partner Intelligence’s software application can reduce the time, cost, and risk of converting companies into WebFOCUS clients."

WebFOCUS clients like Richard Smith II at the State of Oklahoma's Department of Human Services confirm Bob's decision:

“When I engaged Partner Intelligence to do a major project to convert hundreds of production jobs from mainframe FOCUS to WebFOCUS in just six months, it seemed like an unattainable undertaking. Not only was I wrong, but this was one of the smoothest projects on which I have had the pleasure of working in years! If you need to convert code, then Partner Intelligence is the company you need to work with!”

With this agreement in place, Partner Intelligence can provide new customers with complete, cost-effective turnkey BI solutions.

If you have legacy tools such as FOCUS, NOMAD, RAMIS, Crystal Reports, QMF/SQL, Oracle Portal, or others, contact Partner Intelligence to discuss how to quickly and easily transform your current reporting environment into a high quality web-based BI solution. 

If you are looking for enterprise dashboard solutions, Partner Intelligence can quickly implement a bundled solution customized for your particular needs. 

Let us know how Partner Intelligence can be of service.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BI Vendor Partnerships are a Thing of the Past

In a recent Information Management blog, BI analyst Boris Evelson points out that partnerships among BI vendors are gone. The market has consolidated and the remaining players are now competitors.

IBM is a good example.  In the past, Big Blue played nicely with the BI vendors whose products needed IBM's hardware, databases, and software. IBM's acquisition of Cognos turned their previous buddies into enemies.

Mega-vendor SAP acquired their way into the BI space with the Business Objects purchase and became IBM competitors.

But Business Objects had been a long-time friend with IBM Global Services who loved doing large DB2 data warehouse projects. Rather than continue with that, SAP has acquired their own relational database, Sybase. 

If everybody is now your competitor, who is there to work with?

Boris adds a word of advice to the remaining small BI vendors:

"Offer your own full BI stack or position yourself for an acquisition. No other long-term options in my mind."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Christian Band Exchanges Musical Instruments for iPhones

In my recent blogs, I gave examples of how computers were moving from a position of scarcity and fixed location to one of abundance and "in every pocket" much like the ubiquitous telephone.

Could the same thing be true for musical instruments?  Might you someday keep an entire orchestra in your pocket?

Before you call me crazy, see how Christian band Rend Collective Experiment plays without instruments (except for their iPhones). 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Purdue CIO Says No More PCs

In the TV show "Green Acres," Mr. Douglas moves from the big city to the small village of Hooterville. Everybody else there shares the crank telephone at Drucker's General Store but, being the cosmopolitan fellow, Mr. Douglas wants a personal phone at his home.

Unfortunately, the Hooterville phone company cannot run a wire into his house. To accommodate his demand, they install a phone at the top of a telephone pool. Mr. Douglas just has to climb up and down the pool to use the phone.

Mr. Douglas's phone situation reminds me of my days in corporate IT for a global manufacturer. Back in the early 1980s, when I needed to write programs for the mainframe computer, I walked to the "TSO Room" where shared dumb terminals were available.

Change first came when management created a second TSO Room for the smokers. But the IT staff was really shocked when so-called "personal computers" started showing up in people's offices and you no longer had to walk to the shared terminals.

I remember one guy wandered the hallways looking for anybody who would listen. "Someday," he would prophesize with the fervor of Jeremiah, "EVERYBODY will have a PC on his or her desk. NO, even people who do not have desks -- people out in the factory! WOE to you if you do not listen!" Crazy talk.

Today, we hear similar crazy talk from the CIO of Purdue University. ComputerWorld quotes Gerry McCartney in an April 2010 article that he sees in the near future that the university will not have any personal computers. Instead, he predicts mobile devices attached to a wireless network.

Due to financial constraints, Gerry needs to cut recurring IT costs by $15 million over the next three years -- a 15% budget cut.

Gerry has his eye on the 20,000 personal computers on campus. He says, "This idea that I have to go to a PC and sit down and use it is as quaint as having to go to a phone to use a phone."  (Especially if you have to climb a pole to get to it.)

If you are my age, you have lived through a period where telephones started as scarce shared resources (the payphone and the party line) and moved to abundant "in-every-pocket" devices.

We may also see the computer go through the same progression.

Monday, May 10, 2010

SAP Business Objects Enhances Explorer for iPad

Last week, SAP BusinessObjects released a new version of their iPhone Explorer for iPhone.  Originally released at the end of 2009, SAP BusinessObjects has added new support for the iPad.  To see an online demonstration of this mobile BI product, click here.

Using Explorer, an iPad user has easy access to a nice self-service mobile application.   At the top, the user has a panel of selection criteria.  The results show up in the bottom pane in graphical and tabular formats.  Using the touchscreen, the user can drilldown into details, change the graph formats, and so forth. 

To learn more, open iTunes and browse for BusinessObjects Explorer.

About Me

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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.