MicroStrategy World 2012 – Miami

Our internal SKO (sales kick off) meeting was the beginning of this years’ MSTR World conference ( held in Miami, FL at the Intercontinental Hotel located on Chopin Plaza). As with every year, the kickoff meeting is the preliminary gathering of the salesforce in an effort to “rah-rah” the troops who work the front lines around the world ( myself included).

What I find most intriguing is the fact that MicroStrategy is materializing for BI all of those pipe dreams we ALL have. You know the ones I mean : I didn’t buy socialintelligence.co for my health several years ago. It was because I saw the vision of a future where business intelligence and social networking were married. Or take cloud intelligence, aka BI in the cloud. Looking back in 2008, I remember my soapbox discussion of BI mashups, ala My Google, supported in a drag and drop off premises environment. And everyone hollered that I was too visionary, or too far ahead. That everyone wanted reporting, and if I was lucky, maybe even dashboards.

But the acceleration continued, whether adoption grew or not.

Then, i pushed the envelope again: I wanted to take my previous thought of the mashup a morph it into an app integrated with BI tools. Write back to transactional systems or web services was key.

What is a dashboard without the ability within the same interface to take action? Everyone talks about actionable metrics/KPIs. Well, I will tell you that to have a KPI BY DEFINITION OF WHAT A KPI IS, means it is actionable.

But making your end users go to a separate ERP or CRM, to make the changes necessary to affect a KPI, will drive your users away. What benefit can you offer them in that instance ? Going to a dashboard or an excel sheet is no different. It is 1 application to view and if they are lucky, to analyze their data. If they were using excel before , they will still be using excel, especially if your dashboard isn’t useful to day to day operations.

Why? They still have to go to a 2nd application to take action.

Instead, integrate them into one.

Your dashboard will become meaningful and useful to the larger audience of users.
Pipe dream right?

NO. I have proved this out many times now and it works.

Back in 2007-2008, it was merely a theory I pontificated with you, my dear readers.

Since then, I have proved it out several times over and proven the success that can be achieved by taking that next step with your BI platforms.

Folks, if you haven’t done it, do it. Don’t waste anymore time. It took me less then 3 days to write the web services code to consume the salesforce APIs including chatter, ( business “twitter” according to SFDC), into my BI dashboard ( mobile dashboard in fact).

And suddenly, a sales dashboard becomes relevant. No longer does the salesforce team have to view their opportunities and quota achievement in one place, only to leave or open a new browser, to access their salesforce.com portal in order to update where they are at mid quarter.

But wait, now they forgot which KPIs they need to add comments to because they were red on the dashboard which is now closed, and their sales GM is screaming at them on the phone. Oh wait…they are on the road while this is happening and their data plan for their iPad has expired and no wireless connection is found.

What do you do?

Integrating salesforce.com into their dashboard eliminates at least one step (opening a new browser) in the process. Offering mobile offline transactions is a new feature of MicroStrategy’s mobile application. This allows those sales folks to make the comments they need to make while offline, on the road , which will be queued until they are online again.

One stop, one dashboard to access and take action through, even when offline, using their mobile ( android, iPad/iPhone or blackberry ) device.

This is why I’m excited to see MicroStrategy pushing the envelope on mobile BI futures.

Business Intelligence Clouds – The Skies the Limit

I am back…(for now, or so it seems these days) – I promise to get back to one post a month if not more.

Yes, I am known for my frequent use of puns, bordering on the line between cheesy and relevant. Forgive the title. It has been over 110 days since I last posted, which for me is a travesty. Despite my ever growing list of activities both professional and personally, I have always put my blog in the top priority quadrant.

Enough ranting…I diverged; and now I am back.

Ok, cloud computing (BI tools related) seems to be all the rage. Right up there with Mobile

BI, big data and social. I dare use my own term coined back in 2007 ‘Social Intelligence’ as now others have trade marked this phrase (but we, dear readers, know the truth –> we have been thinking about the marriage between social networks / social media data sets and business intelligence for years now)…Alas, I diverge again. Today, I have been thinking a lot about cloud computing and Business Intelligence.

Think about BI and portals, like Sharepoint (just to name 1)…It was all of the rage (or perhaps, still is)…”Integrate my BI reporting with my intranet / portal /Sharepoint web parts…OK, once that was completed successfully, did it buy much in terms of adoption or savings or any number of those ROI / savings catch – “Buy our product, and your employees will literally save so much time they will be basket weaving their reports into TRUE analysis'” What they didnt tell you, was that more bandwidth meant less need for those people, which in turn, meant people went into scarcity mode/tactics trying to make themselves seem or be relevant…And I dont fault them for this…Companies were not ready or did not want to think about what they were going to do with the newly freed up resources that they would have when the panacea of BI deployments actually came to fruition…And so, the wheel turned. What was next…? Reports became dashboards; dashboards became scorecards (became the complements for the former); Scorecards introduced proactive notification / alerting; alerting introduced threshold based notification across multiple devices/methods, one of which was mobile; mobile notification brought the need for mobile BI –> and frankly, and I will say it: Apple brought us the hardware to see the latter into fruition…Swipe, tap, double tap –> drill down was now fun. Mobile made portals seem like child’s play. But what about when you need to visualize something and ONLY have it on a spreadsheet?

(I love hearing this one; as if the multi-billion dollar company whose employee is claiming to only have the data on a spreadsheet didnt get it from somewhere else; I know, I know –> in the odd case, yes, this is true…so I will play along)…

The “only on a spreadsheet” crowd made mobile seem restrictive; enter RoamBI and the likes of others like MicroStrategy (yes, MicroStrategy now has a data import feature for spreadsheets with advanced visualizations for both web and mobile)…Enter Qlikview for the web crowd. The “I’m going to build-a dashboard in less than 30 minutes” salesforce “wait…that’s not all folks….come now (to the meeting room) with your spreadsheet, and watch our magicians create dashboards to take with you from the meeting”

But no one cared about maintenance, data integrity, cleanliness or accuracy…I know…they are meant to be nimble, and I see their value in some instances and some circumstances…Just like the multi-billion dollar company who only tracks data on spreqadsheets…I get it; there are some circumstances where they exist…But, it is not the norm.

So, here we are …mobile offerings here and there; build a dashboard on the fly; import spreadsheets during meetings; but, what happens when you go back to your desk and have to open up your portal (still) and now have a new dashboard that only you can see unless you forward it out manually?

Enter cloud computing for BI; but not at the macro scale; let’s talk , personal…Personal clouds; individual sandboxes of a predefined amount of space which IT has no sanction over other than to bless how much space is allocated…From there, what you do with it is up to you; Hackles going up I see…How about this…

Image representing Salesforce as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

Salesforce.com –> The biggest CRM cloud today. And for the last many years, SFDC has

enbraced Cloud Computing. And big data for that matter; and databases (database.com in fact) in the cloud…Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

So isnt it natural for BI to follow CRM into cloud computing ?? Ok, ok…for those of you whose hackles are still up, some rules (you IT folks will want to read further):

Rules of the game:

1) Set an amount of space (not to be exceeded; no matter what) – But be fair and realistic; a 100 MB is useless; in today’s world, a 4 GB zip drive was advertised for $4.99 during the back to school sales, so I think you can pony up enough to help make the cloud useful.

2) If you delete it, there is a recycling bin (like on your PC/Mac); if you permanently delete it, too bad/so sad…We need to draw the line somewhere. Poor Sharepoint admins around the world are having to drop into STSADM commands to restore Alvin Analyst’s Most Important Analysis that he not only moved into recycling bin but then permanently deleted.

3) Put some things of use in this personal cloud at work like BI tools; upload a spreadsheet and build a dashboard in minutes wiht visualizations like the graph matrix (a crowd pleasure) or a time series slider (another crowd favorite; people just love time based data 🙂 But I digress (again)…

4) Set up BI reporting on the logged events; understand how many users are using your cloud environment; how many are getting errors; what and why are they getting errors; this simple type of event based logging is very informative. (We BI professionals tend to overthink things, especially those who are also physicists).

5) Take a look at what people are using the cloud for; if you create and add meaningful tools like BI visualizations and data import and offer viewing via mobile devices like iPhone/iPad and Android or web, people will use it…

This isnt a corporate iTunes or MobileMe Cloud; this isnt Amazon’s elastic cloud (EC2). This is a cloud wiht the sole purpase of supporting BI; wait, not just supporting, but propelling users out of the doldrums of the current state of affairs and into the future.

It’s tangible and just cool enough to tell your colleagues and work friends “hey, I’ve got a BI cloud; do you?”

Gartner BI Magic Quadrant 2011 – Keeping with the Tradition

Gartner Magic Quadrant 2011

Gartner Magic Quadrant 2011

I have posted the Gartner Business Intelligence ‘BI’ Magic Quadrant (in addition to the ETL quadrant) for the last several years.  To say that I missed the boat on this year’s quadrant is a bit extreme folks, though for my delay, I am sorry. I did not realize there were readers who counted on me to post this information each year.  I am a few months behind the curve on getting this to you, dear readers.  But, what that said, it is better late, than never, right?

Oh, and who is really ‘clocking’ me anyway, other than myself? But that is a whole other issue for another post, some other day.

As an aside, am excited to say that my latest websites http://www.biplaybook.com is finally published. Essentially, I decided that the next step after Measuring BI data, Making the Measurements Meaningful, and Modifying Meaningful Data into Metrics was to address the age old question of ‘So What’? Or ‘What Do I Do About it’?

BI PlayBook offers readers real-world scenarios that I have solved using BI or data visualizations of sorts, but with the added bonus, of how to tie it back into the original business process you were reporting on or trying to help with BI, or tie back into the customer services/satisfaction process. This latter one is quite meaningful to me, because so often, we find our voices go unheard, especially when we complain to large corporations via website feedback, surveys or (gasp) calling into their call center(s). Feedback should be directly tied back into the performance being measured whether it is operational, tactical, managerial, marketing, financial, retail , production and so forth. So, why not tie that back into your business intelligence platforms using feedback loops and voice of the customer maps /value stream maps to do so.

Going one step further, having a BI PlayBook allows end users of your BI systems who are signed up and responsible for metrics being visualized and reported out to the company to know what they are expected to do to address a problem with that metric, who they are to communicate both the issue and the resolution to, and what success looks like.

Is it really fair of us, BI practitioners, to build and assign responisble ownership to our leaders of the world, without giving them some guidance (documented of course), on what to do about these new responsibilities? We are certainly the 1st to be critical when a ‘red’ issue shows up on one of our reports/dashboards/visualizations. How cool would it be to look at these red events, see the people responsible getting alerted to said fluctation, and further, seeing said person take appropriate and reasonable steps towards resolution? Well, a playbook offers the roadmap or guidance around this very process.

It truly takes BI to that next level. In fact, two years ago, I presented this very topic at the TDWI Executive Summit in San Diego (Tying Business Processes into your Business Intelligence). The PlayBook is the documented ways and means to achieve this outcome in a real-world situation.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Integration – Delta Comparing 2007-2009

We finally have an open source tool in the Gartner Magic Quadrant (source: Gartner Group) for Data Integration while IBM and Informatica keep a big lead.

Gartner have been modifying the inclusion criteria across most of its magic quadrant –criteria:

  • They must generate at least $20 million of annual software license revenue from data integration tools or maintain at least 300 maintenance-paying customers for their data integration tools.
  • They must support data integration tools customers in at least two of the major geographic regions (North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia/Pacific).
  • They must have customer implementations that reflect the use of the tools at an enterprise (cross-departmental and multiproject) level.

There are not many software vendors out there who are charging as hard at data integration as IBM and Informatica and it shows in the latest quadrant where IBM and Informatica are further in front of the competition.

The diagram on the left shows the moves from 2007 to 2008 and 2009 with the light green line being 2007 to 2008 and the dark green being 2008 to 2009.  You can see that IBM made a big move in the 2008 quadrant and has hovered while Informatica have made big moves in each year. 

The Losers

There are no real winners and losers, there are just those companies that will give the quadrant away for free, those who will just mention it in a press release and those who will pretend it doesn’t exist.  Among those who will pretend it doesn’t exist:

– Sun Microsystems and TIBCO have been dumped from the quadrant because they don’t sell ETL style data integration tools any more.  There are a couple purple lines on the diagram from where those vendors used to be.

– ETI and Open Text are in free fall and won’t be staying in the quadrant much longer.  ETI are an old school data integration product who never got the hang of the modern trend for visual design interfaces and data integration suites.

– SAP Business Objects are still in the leader quadrant – but only just.  Does not bode well for the SAP acquisition of Business Objects.

The Winners

– Obviously Informatica and IBM are the clear winners with Informatica making a big move based on recent acquisitions and releases such as Informatica 9 and the Business Glossary.

– Oracle jump into the leader square and can blow raspberries back at Microsoft.

– Talend are the first open source data integration vendor to get into the quadrant, though they would argue (at great length) that they should have been included last year and the quadrants move too slowly in the fast paced world of business software.

– Syncsort and Pervasive keep plugging away and improving and keeping costs of software beneath those of the market leaders.

[Laura Edell comment] Ummm, I thought Pitney Bowes provided corporations with stamps and other business-related supplies…How does one leap from that genre to not just business intelligence, but data integration…? Maybe to compete with the former Business Objects Data Quality Zip Code Cleanser? j/k – but I thought that was eye catching enough to call out.