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.

About Me

My photo

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.