Monday, April 16, 2012

20 Years of BI

The older we get, the faster time goes by. Experts say this is because we respond to novel events while young but once we get older, things seem more routine and less worthy of attention. Our resulting lack of focus causes our sense of time to get out of whack.

As a personal example, I just realized I am approaching the twentieth anniversary of my very first presentation at Information Builders' annual user conference.

Back in 1992, I spoke on application efficiencies to a few hundred 4GL developers. That was in Anaheim, CA, near Disneyland. I spoke on  common mistakes that caused slower application responses.

Now it is 2012 and I am speaking on avoiding BI blunders in Orlando, FL, near Disney World. In particular, I will talk about the common mistakes companies make during BI dashboard software projects.

In a sense, I am still doing the same old thing twenty years later. Yet plenty is different.

For example, this thing called the Internet brought the thin-client web user interface. Cheap telecommunications showed up to give us a low-cost global workforce just in time for Y2K projects. Computers got smaller yet faster and cheaper (in fact, people can now easily carry tiny computers around all day long). Companies accumulated gigantic piles of data about their customers which have become just as valuable as the original business transactions. Firms have fewer people doing much more work.

Our real problem as adults may be that we don't interact with novelty the way we did as children. Back then, when we found something new, it was exciting to us and we took time to play with it. But now as adults, we don't bother to slow down to intentionally reflect on the impact of this new big thing. As a result, we fail to take action and can only become bystanders of the novelty rather than active participants.

I would love to stop and play with new technology. For example, why not build a mobile Apple iPad app using Objective-C? That would be fun! Well, my adult mind can give me a dozen reasons against the idea, most of which involve a lack of time caused by other responsibilities (for example, I should be creating a BI dashboard presentation to hit a print deadline of May 1st).

In reality, the length of twenty-four hours has not gotten shorter since we were young. Instead, we have just allowed too much old adult stuff to fill up the day. For me, it's time to slow down and do something novel, even if it seems childish.

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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.