Saturday, January 15, 2011

BI--It's all in Your Head (or Somebody Else's)

Mike Tarallo at Pentaho says that real Business Intelligence is not about software; it is about people:
"BI in general involves many different factors in order to be successful no matter what software or skill set is being used. It requires the knowledge and expertise of the individuals who know it best. This includes the customer knowing what problems they have or want to prevent, as well as the software vendor and/or consultants who know how to provide solutions for those problems."

Mike has witnessed people being too quick to just ask for a specific BI tool instead of explaining to vendors what problem they are trying to solve and listening to advice. If you do not understand your problem, your self-selected solution is probably going to be wrong.

Also, Mike warns that people often do not even know they have a problem, so they are unaware of their need for a specific BI tool until after it has been pointed out to them.

Mike writes:
Business Intelligence is about collaboration, communication, discovery, knowledge, insight, direction and action to just name a few. These factors along with the proper software and services can provide an organization with a successful BI implementation. The software can be part of a specific BI Platform or simply an application development environment used to create business applications that provide knowledge on data. Business Intelligence is not just about collecting data and reporting, it is a methodology in which experts can provide assistance. If you would like your organization to succeed with BI, it is extremely important to understand its factors and learn how to analyze and use the data created by this methodology.

That is good advice from Mike and his "swamp" blog: before buying a BI product, speak with a variety of BI vendors and independent experts.  These individuals can help you see your problem in a new light and show you how other smart people have solved similar issues.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

MicroStrategy Showcases Mobile BI at World 2011

MicroStrategy continues to aggressively target mobile business intelligence, especially on the Apple iPhone and iPad platforms.

You may remember back in September 2010 when MicroStrategy switched out 2000 field sales notebooks for tablets. They even offered to give you their mobile BI software for free!  If that is not enough, MicroStrategy will send a consultant onsite for two weeks to build your company's own iPad BI application.

I am not sure if MicroStrategy could make a stronger signal of commitment to the emerging mobile market.

For their upcoming World 2011 conference being held in Las Vegas from January 24 through 27, MicroStrategy puts the iPad front and center.

At the conference, MicroStrategy will save some paper by putting their schedule on an iPad app. You can download a copy here.

If you don't show up with an Apple iPad already in your hand, the software vendor will provide you with a loaner.  But not bringing an iPad to the MicroStrategy World 2011 event would be like not wearing blue jeans to a rodeo.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

BI in the New Year

An entire month has just passed since my last blog on business intelligence software topics. This is my first post of the new year.

Two things have kept me extremely busy: BI Dashboards and BI Conversions. Last year, those BI activities were hot but going into 2011 they seem to have picked up even more. My BI consultants and I have been traveling across the country either building web-based dashboard applications or converting legacy reporting applications to modern BI technology.

On the conversion side, we are helping companies shed legacy reporting tools and transition to web-based BI. However, I also see firms getting rid of "modern" BI products where the software vendor has failed to keep these clients happy.

Some software vendors seem to believe they are in the catbird seat with existing customers. Once a BI product has been implemented and in use for some time, it is difficult to remove. A false sense of arrogance might encourage a software vendor to engage in less than proper behavior--they do not fear an immediate loss of the account due to the challenge their customer would have replacing the installed BI product.

Our BI Dashboard application development projects have been exciting. Most provide management with enterprise views of operational metrics showing actual performance against budgets or previous activity. However, profit is not the only reason for business intelligence. In addition to commercial organizations, we are also working with healthcare dashboards where patient care and chronic disease management is being measured.

One of my New Year's resolutions will be to allocate more time to this blog.

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.