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.

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.