Thursday, March 31, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
With an endless wave of new companies pushing innovative new technologies, the BI market has been one of the most dynamic in the software industry during the past 20 years.
...[T]he plethora of advertisements about BI capabilities that appear on television (e.g., IBM's Smarter Planet campaign) and major consumer magazines (e.g. SAP and SAS Institute ads) reinforce the maturity of BI as a mainstream market. BI is now front and center on the radar screen of most CIOs, if not CEOs, who want to better leverage information to make smarter decisions and gain a lasting competitive advantage.
To prove this point, Wayne created a great timeline of the Business Intelligence industry mapping the changes in Users against those of the Vendors.
Prior to 1990, Wayne tells of how companies used 3GL (COBOL, PL/1, etc.) and 4GL (NOMAD, RAMIS, and FOCUS) computer programming languages to handle reporting needs.
He sees 1990 as the point where software vendors began offering tools built specifically for Business Intelligence. Around 2000, the vendors started offering BI applications for managing corporate performance.
Wayne maps out the following key time periods in the BI market's evolution:
- 1990: Get the Data (data warehousing and BI "suites")
- 1995: Use the Data (business intelligence platforms)
- 2000: Optimize Performance (performance management)
- 2007: BI Goes Mainstream (consolidation; Oracle, SAP, and IBM get in)
- 2010: Drive Processes (analytics)
What's left in the future? Wayne talks about continued changes:
At this point, some might wonder if there is much headroom left in the BI market. The last 20 years have witnessed a dizzying array of technology innovations, products, and methodologies. It can't continue at this pace, right? Yes and no. The BI market has surprised us in the past. Even in recent years as the BI market consolidated--with big software vendors acquiring nimble innovators--we've seen a tremendous explosion of innovation. BI entrepreneurs see a host of opportunities, from better self-service BI tools that are more visual and intuitive to use to mobile and cloud-based BI offerings that are faster, better, and cheaper than current offerings. Search vendors are making a play for BI as well as platform vendors that promise data center scalability and availability for increasingly mission-critical BI loads. And we still need better tools and approaches for querying and analyzing unstructured content (e.g., documents, email, clickstream data, Web pages) and deliver data faster as our businesses increasingly compete on velocity and as our data volumes become too large to fit inside shrinking batch windows.
Sounds like lots of fun is still to come.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Baum plotted a timeline from 2000 to the present showing HP's acquisitions in five major categories:
- Enterprise Infrastructure
- Personal Systems
- Imaging and Printing
Two of their really big buys were EDS and Compaq, providing HP with more corporate services capabilities and hardware platforms. Many of its recent software acquisitions deal with corporate IT application management. Let's also not forget that last year HP acquired the struggling handheld maker Palm.
Could HP get into more corporate computer applications? Baum suggests that HP might acquire the ERP giant SAP. Now that would be a really big purchase.
Like EDS, SAP is a large services organization (accounting for around 21% of its total $12.5 billion euro revenues in 2010). Of course, buying SAP would also propel HP into the hot Business Intelligence software space since SAP had earlier acquired Business Objects (which had acquired Crystal Reports and others).
Baum also recommends some other choices from the BI vendor menu.
Take SAS for example. Owner Jim Goodnight has been going strong since starting this software company based on a college project. Now that he is about 70 years old, he might want to celebrate his amazing success and retire. HP could offer Jim a few billion dollars as a retirement gift and SAS would be a great analytical tool for HP.
A similar situation exists at Information Builders. In business since the mid-1970s, Gerry Cohen might also be interested in winding down his time in the software industry. Gerry's WebFOCUS is a good fit for HP's platforms all the way down to the Palm handheld. With WebFOCUS, HP might even have a play for mobile BI.
Baum also suggests that HP might acquire MicroStrategy, one of the few remaining pure-play BI software vendors. Because MicroStrategy does a great job with very large database systems such as Teradata, HP might want to consider acquiring both as complementary BI offerings. MicroStrategy is also one of the emerging leaders in the mobile BI space, which could be of value combined with Palm handhelds.
Baum goes on to list all sorts of different purchases for HP. He says:
With all of these components, HP becomes the only firm that can supply end to end enterprise IT, including hardware and software, either on premises or under the Infrastructure as a Service model. HP could supply all of the IT hardware, including smart phones, handhelds, desktops, workstations, and servers. The expanded BTO offerings allow complete control and situational awareness of the enterprise’s computing and communications systems. The enterprise business software would track, well, all of the business stuff. HP can leverage its existing business continuity sites to jump start an Infrastructure as a Service offering. Adobe technology would allow enterprises to encapsulate business processes within documents and 10gen would store it all. Autodesk, Hermes, and Corel would drop directly into their respective business units.
Software Advice asks for your opinion. Go to their website to read the entire article and to answer a survey on which companies you think HP will acquire.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Wayne, research director at TechTarget in Boston, writes:
One of the most salient features of performance dashboards are the "three threes": three applications, three layers, and three types. The "three threes" provide a convenient way to describe the major characteristics of performance dashboards and a litmus test to differentiate imposters from bona fide performance dashboards.
Wayne breaks a performance dashboard into three integrated application components:
- Monitoring application for conveying information at a glance (dashboards for operational processes and scorecards for strategic goals)
- Analysis application for exposing exception conditions and allowing the user to drill into details
- Management application for improving alignment, coordination, and collaboration
A dashboard can also be segregated into three different informational layers:
- Monitoring information utilizing graphical, metrics data for executives
- Analysis information utilizing summarized, dimensional data for analysts
- Detail information utilizing transactional data for workers
Lastly, Wayne outlines three types of dashboards:
- Strategic dashboards for executives (often using the Balanced Scorecard methodology)
- Tactical dashboards for departmental processes and projects
- Operational dashboards for front-line workers utilizing detail transactional
There is plenty of overlap between Wayne's three informational layers and three types of dashboards. We mess up his "three" paradigm, but we might combine things into a summary such as:
- Strategic Monitoring Dashboard for executives (highly graphical representative of metrics)
- Tactical Analysis Dashboard for departments and projects (summary with drill-to details)
- Operational Detail Dashboards for front-line workers (very current transactional data)
For more information, see Wayne's book on Amazon.
By the way, if you are considering using WebFOCUS to build BI dashboards, be sure to see my other blog posting.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Big, old, traditional BI companies are good at producing technologies that enhance the infrastructure of business intelligence—more and faster—but not the actual use of data in ways that lead to greater intelligence. Being big, focused primarily on technology from an engineering perspective, and devoutly sales driven makes it difficult for companies like SAP to develop useful tools for activities that support decision making: data exploration, sensemaking, and communication. To meet this challenge, they must shift their focus from technology to the humans who use it—our needs and abilities—and expand their perspective to embrace design. They must commit their efforts to what actually works, rather than silly, shiny features that fill their existing products with smoke and mirrors.
In particular, Stephen singles out SAP Business Objects as lacking "expertise" in providing visual analytics. Basically, all they have is the dashboard product BO acquired long ago. By adding their new HANA in-memory database capabilities, Stephen says SAP just might "enable a faster trip to nowhere."
See the rest of Stephen's comments here.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
You are a Dynamo when you are acting as if you are still in the middle of a career (not a job) and on your way to somewhere. As a Dynamo, you always have a personal strategic plan that you are enthusiastically working towards. Dynamos are always working to learn something new, and are continually adding to their skills and knowledge. They are actively building their practice in new and challenging areas.
At the other end of the spectrum would be the "Loser":
You are a Loser if, for whatever reason, you do not meet the basic standards of quality, client service, and hard work. This slate, whether temporary or permanent, can be caused by any of many possible things: disruptions in one's personal life, a loss of energy, a dying practice area, and so on.
If you are somewhere between "Dynamo" and "Loser", you are a "Cruiser":
You are by definition, not a Loser. Cruisers are fully competent, successful professionals who work hard, do good work, and take care of their clients. They show up each week and "make the sausages." Then they come in the next week, and, again, make the sausages. Most likely theirs are good, high-quality "sausages." In fact, everybody in the firm knows that if you've got a sausage job, you should go to that person. Those people are terrific at making sausages! However, Cruisers certainly are not Dynamos. They are not going anywhere. Rather than working to learn new things, Cruisers do well for the time being by living off their existing skills. They are not working to expand their abilities. They have a job, not a career.
Note that being categorized as a Cruiser doesn't imply that one is a bad worker or a bad person. Quite the opposite: Cruising translates to dedicated, high-quality work. We all cruise some of the time; the temptation to do so is huge. Cruising means working at what you are already good at, and in consequence usually means a low-stress, comfortable work life. Furthermore, it is easier to get hired for what you already know how to do then it is to generate work that "moves you forward."
However, it is equally clear that a professional cannot cruise forever. If all you work on is what you already know how to do, you'll eventually be overtaken by someone younger who will learn how to do what you do, and will probably be willing to do it for less than you get paid. A key to success is to find a way to only cruise (if at all) occasionally and for short periods.
Maister believes that if you view your work as a job, you cannot be in the Dynamo category. When you come in for the 8-to-5 stuff, you do it well and work hard. You focus for 40 hours on making good sausages, because that is your job. Beyond those 40 hours, however, you are not engaged, because you see yourself as being "off the job." With that attitude, you do not qualify as a Dynamo candidate.
Losers and Cruisers have jobs. If you do not see yourself in a long-term professional career, then you cannot be a Dynamo. Maister suggests that the difference between being a Dynamo and a Cruiser is passion. He also points out the manager's responsibility for leading professionals.
More than anything else, a leader of professionals must help his or her colleagues to find the fun in being a Dynamo. Leaders must be intolerant of cruising, and demand (and help create) true achievement.
If you are a Business Intelligence software consultant, you have plenty of opportunities to shine as a Dynamo--you just need to supply the passion.
With over 20 years of industry experience, Doug Lautzenheiser has provided business intelligence services for well-known organizations such as Procter & Gamble, JPMorgan Chase, Omnicare, Wendy’s International, the State of Indiana, and the State of Oklahoma. ComputerWorld recognized one of Doug's projects with honors for innovative use of technology. Doug is a featured blogger on BI software at Smart Data Collective.
With his broad knowledge of technologies, business processes, and industry best practices, Doug provides client value by performing strategic advisory services; leading tactical BI application development projects; and enabling dramatic reductions in time, cost, and risks through his unique automated BI consolidation application.
Doug has hands-on experience with a variety of enterprise applications. He is degreed summa cum laude in Information Systems from the University of Cincinnati. An experienced trainer and mentor, Doug has provided educational services to organizations such as National Semiconductor, Ford Motor Company, Northwest Airlines, Principal Financial Group, and Target Stores. Doug is the owner of Kencura Systems.
Talk to Doug before manually performing a large BI initiative. Doug will show you how other smart companies saved time and money by following proven methodologies and automating BI processes instead of letting somebody "wing it" with a manual approach.
B2B software vendor leadership. BI implementations, standardization, and consolidation; data warehousing; WebFOCUS; iWay; BI vendors (Cognos, SAP Business Objects/Crystal Reports, Microstrategy, Actuate, Hyperion/Brio, SAS, Tableau Software); ERP; and full SDLC.