Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blame it on the Sentence

If you are business professional, you understand the importance of having good communication skills. Whether you are writing a book, a blog article, or an e-mail, your readers draw conclusions from the thoughts you put down into an electronic or paper format.

After you commit your thoughts to a physical form, a reader has to pick them up. Sometimes in this process, your message gets slightly garbled. While it may not seem obvious, the way you structure a sentence can place blame on somebody or even onto yourself.

Consider, for example, that you jot down the simple statement, "Somebody left the garden hose on last night." The purpose of that message clearly seems to be on the sentence's subject, some unnamed culprit who forgot to turn off the water.

And perhaps you really want to make that point. However, to avoid a connotation of blame, you could have organized the sentence to not have an active subject: "The garden hose was left on last night." In the reader's mind, this changes the whole purpose of your message; your focus is now on the event, not on any particular individual.

In business, we often need to tread lightly when writing about negative events that need to be addressed and resolved. If our communication seems to just point a finger at another human, we typically then have to spend time proving guilt when the accused goes on the defensive, recanting our statement, and/or apologizing to that person. We might even have to remove spitballs from our hair. Regardless, we end up losing sight of the real issue at hand.

Keeping sentence structure in mind can also help you prevent damaging your own image in other ways. Sometimes, we unwittingly write sentences so that they point a finger right back at us as culprits even if we are not guilty.

If you write, for example, "I had a performance issue yesterday in my computer program," the reader is likely to assume that you are to blame just because of the sentence structure.

Had you written, "Yesterday, there was a performance issue in my computer program," then the reader would probably not consider you to be at fault, either consciously or subconsciously.

Be careful how you structure sentences; you might cause yourself grief by blaming somebody or even yourself. And is that water I hear running? 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Domo to Disrupt the BI Software Industry

Serial entrepreneur Josh James is ready to shake up the Business Intelligence software industry with a company called Domo.

Last year, Josh launched this new SaaS venture with the following statement:
"The BI market is ripe for disruption. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent on collecting data, yet no one has found a way to deliver value. SaaS is an ideal approach. For decades, the priority of enterprise software vendors has been to lock in customers though steep upfront investments and then sit back and collect maintenance fees. The SaaS model forces technology vendors to have a maniacal focus on customer satisfaction because it's relatively easy for customers to abandon you if they aren't happy. At Domo, we will work to keep our customers satisfied. And we will keep working until they say one thing, 'Thank you,' which translates to 'Domo' in Japanese."

John Thompson of Symantec has partnered with James:
"As CEO, I can relate to the problems that Josh and his team have set out to fix. Getting real-time data from across the enterprise into one place is such a simple and straightforward idea, but it's never been easy or possible. Today the infrastructure has been primed for a solution like Domo to come in and help customers get value from their data assets which live in disparate systems across the enterprise."

Attendees at the 2012 Gartner BI Summit liked what they saw of Domo. One executive commented:
“I've looked at a lot of solutions and, for the past couple of years, this is how I envisioned BI should look. I just haven't seen it until now."

Today's BI products have been challenged to keep up with changing technology eras, quickly transitioning from Web 1.0 (the desktop web browser era of 1994 to 2001) to Web 2.0 (the social era of 2002 to 2009) and now on to Mobile (2010 to the present).

Several big BI vendors have spent the last few years just trying to acclimate into their mega-vendor parent organizations after being acquired. After being sucked up into a Borg mothership like IBM or SAP, who has time to keep up with changing technologies?

Josh blogged recently on the problems of today's BI products, which he sees as the following:
  • Designed for use by IT staff, data scientists, or geeks; not for business users
  • IT's data warehouses only contain part of the story 
  • Initial offerings for Cloud BI are not good enough 

Josh and a team of very smart people plan to use $43 million of funding to fix the broken BI industry.

Here is a nice video where Domo throws out the warning to other vendors that they will turn the BI industry on its head. While the marketing video shows little "real product," it implies that Domo will provide a cloud-based mobile analytics engine for real-time Big Data.

Better, bigger, faster, cheaper so that every company struggling with BI today will be able to say to Domo, "Thank You!"

Is this really THE company that will enable firms to toss existing BI products such as IBM Cognos, SAP Business Objects, MicroStrategy, Actuate, and WebFOCUS onto the trash heap?

We'll have to wait and see, but Josh James and his investors sure seem excited about the possibility. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Converting IBM Cognos to Tableau Software

Experts say we are moving away from not just the original Web 1.0 but also from Web 2.0, on to the next generation of Mobile applications. Two years article, Wired talked about this in an article called "The Web is Dead: Long Live the Internet."

This trend away from desktop computers will impact the mega BI software vendors, especially those with just Windows products (and even those with web-based products).

Here is an interesting story about The Broad Institute converting their legacy IBM Cognos BI applications into the more contemporary product from Tableau Software. The major reasons for moving to Tableau listed in the article included new data visualization features and mobile access.

Zach Leber, the assistant director of informatics at The Broad Institute, told about the change for employees:
"As they're coming to work in the morning, for example, they can check on the status of their projects, from their smartphones even. So, it's really giving people a lot more visibility into what's going on with their projects than they had before."

See the entire article here

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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.