Tuesday, August 30, 2011

BI Professionals using Social Networking such as LinkedIn

In a recent study, Jobvite found that 80% of the people they surveyed said their companies use social media sites for recruiting, with the main information sources being LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

When Jobvite first did this survey four years ago, recruiting through social media was a new idea. Today, it appears to be the predominant method. In fact, almost all (95%) of the 800 U.S. respondents said that they had successfully hired an individual through LinkedIn.

My LinkedIn network has about 2000 direct contacts, many of whom are somehow related to the software industry. Unlike with my Facebook network, I am pretty open to LinkedIn invitations to connect. That brings my "friends of friends" LinkedIn network to over one million people. Of the 120 million people using LinkedIn, I can use my network to search about 16 million of them.

So I was curious to see the statistics for networked individuals displaying business intelligence keywords in their LinkedIn profiles. To keep it manageable, I decided to only look at those individuals living in the United States. I also removed vendor employees from the figures (e.g., for the keyword "Cognos," I ignored individuals who worked for either IBM or IBM Cognos).

Here are counts from my quick research of BI skills claimed by LinkedIn members in my network:
  • SAS: 59,300 people living in the USA
  • Crystal Reports: 43,600 people
  • IBM SPSS: 37,000
  • Business Objects: 34,500
  • IBM Cognos: 28,700
  • Microsoft SSRS: 17,000
  • MicroStrategy: 8,300
  • Oracle OBIEE: 4,200
  • Actuate: 3,900
  • QlikTech Qlikview: 1,400
  • Information Builders WebFOCUS: 1,300
  • BIRT: 1,200
  • Pentaho: 900
  • JasperSoft Jasper Reports: 800

Of these 14 BI products, 80% of the LinkedIn keywords clustered around two statistical analysis products (SAS and IBM SPSS) and the software products from two mega-vendors (SAP Business Objects and IBM Cognos).

The other mega-vendors Microsoft and Oracle were not far down the list. In fact, I might have slighted them by not being able to better search for the product keywords. 

Surprisingly, I saw a lack of R Stat people in LinkedIn despite the open-source statistical package being in the news and high demand of commercial products--only 126 people in the United States mentioned that skill in their LinkedIn profiles.

With so many people with SAS and SPSS skills, why would there be so few with an open source statistical package? 

Supply and demand must be at play here. If the market has limited demand for open-source products, fewer people will bother learning them. The other open-source BI products were also very far down on the list.

Of course, this is just a snapshot in time of the BI software skills in the United States. Some of these skills will decline in number and some will increase. For example, I believe that legacy tools such as Crystal Reports skills will move down the list and emerging products such as Qlikview will move up.

The bottom line for BI professionals is to maximize your opportunities by participating in social media--especially LinkedIn.

To get your own free copy of this Jobvite survey, click here. For a great infographic, see this.

To see my comments about Information Builders's BI product, go to my WebFOCUS blog

Saturday, August 27, 2011

BARC Summarizes BI M&A

In a free analysis, BARC's BI Verdict site offers a nice summary of the business intelligence industry's merger and acquisition activities going all the way back to the 1994 purchase of Pilot Lightship by Dun & Bradstreet.

You can see it here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BI and Car Wrecks

This is the 120th anniversary of an amazing event: the very first automobile accident.

If you do not know about this, be sure to read my earlier post titled "Hitting Stumps." Of course, wrecking cars is just a lead-in to argue that large companies often wrestle away good ideas from innovators and stomp the life out of them.

As an illustrative hands-on example, type in the old URL for Cognos (http://www.cognos.com) or Business Objects (http://www.businessobjects.com).

That's okay, I'll wait for you.

Welcome back. When you tried to go to those product websites, you were instead redirected deep into the bowels of the mega-vendors which years ago acquired those two leading BI firms. Since then, neither brand has displayed much innovation. Both have been too busy being assimilated into their respective 800-pound gorilla corporate cultures.

Few pure-play BI software vendors remain in the industry: Information Builders and MicroStrategy are two that come to mind. It is probably not surprising that these independent vendors have been remarkably innovative lately, jumping into emerging markets such as mobile BI and social media analytics.

But enough about today's BI software, read about the first car wreck that happened 120 years ago. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

R Stats Users Group 2012

This week starts the 2011 useR! conference at the University of Warwick in Coventry in the United Kingdom. Next year, this annual R Stats users group will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, during June of 2012.

And the host already wants an RSVP.

Vanderbilt's Biostatistics group in the School of Medicine must be predicting a large crowd. They have posted a survey focused on where all of the attendees might spend the nights.

If you intend to go, visit their website.

WebFOCUS Closed-Loop Mobile BI

Information Builders, the vendor of enterprise BI product WebFOCUS, announced today "closed-loop BI" support for mobile devices.

This is not a new skill for Information Builders. From the start, their products have had features for full application development tasks. Not only can their BI product display information content to the users, but it can interact and gather raw data. Closed-loop means that the user can view information as well as change it.

While some organizations are concerned about BI applications that update data, others embrace it. For one Partner Intelligence client, we implemented a dashboard solution that provided their purchasing group with suggestions for saving money. However, if a purchasing decision maker disagreed with the automated recommendation, he or she could click on that line and cause it to disappear from that and future reports.

That "closed-loop" reporting feature updated a flag in the database identifying that piece of information to be excluded from the report. It was an easy task with WebFOCUS, but may have been near impossible with a typical report writing software product.

WebFOCUS also provided a way for that client to enter currently-not-available information. The purchasing person had some inside information about a future agreement that was not yet in the ERP system. Using a BI data entry screen, this person could add this piece of breaking news into the application that would influence the savings advice for everybody the next day.

During nightly processing, WebFOCUS picks up the new information, builds a formal transaction, and passes it along to the ERP system so that this new information can become active. Had the client needed more real-time synchronization, we could have made the ERP communication happen on a data-change basis.

Many people still dismiss handheld devices such as phones and tablets as being devices only good for "consumption." They want to pigeon-hole mobile devices to reading information, unable to process transactions and update data. Information Builders may help change this attitude.

For more information on Information Builder's closed-loop mobile BI offerings, see their press release

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.