Author Archives: @donaldmac

Data Discovery, data lakes and the need for lean BI

Data LakeIn a recent LinkedIn Pulse post, Bill Nicely expressed frustration with the current Business Intelligence (BI) vogue for Data Discovery, which is being over-marketed as meaning “you don’t need IT anymore” to do BI.

He’s right to be frustrated. It might be convenient to pretend that IT doesn’t need to be involved, but in the medium to long run this just hugely undermines the overall potential of BI, including the valuable contribution Data Discovery has to offer.

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Managing the Internet of Things tidal wave

BI for everyoneWe live at a time where there is vastly more information available than ever before. Tech trends like the Internet of Things are taking us into a world of connectedness, and everyone from Gartner to IDC are predicting big stuff for “the Things” in 2015.

In fact there is already far too much information out there for us to be able to meaningfully take it all in. However it is increasingly important that we use as much of this data as we can to avoid being left behind in both our work and our personal lives.

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Lean BI: Are you doing it every two weeks? Part II

BI for everyoneIt is well understood that information is one of the most valuable assets an organization has and that making best use of it can be the difference between success and failure.

One of the most important things to do with information is to make it accessible right across your organisation in a way that allows users to “just use it”.

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Simplify your business intelligence and increase adoption by learning from Steve Jobs

BI for everyoneWhilst Steve Jobs is rightly most famous for the impact he had on consumer technology, he also had – and is still having – a significant, long term impact on business technology, and business intelligence (BI) in particular.

To my mind Steve Job’s key legacy to BI is not the iPhone or the iPad but rather the mobile apps that they carry, and they are a signpost to how BI is going to change in the future. Let me explain.

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Q: Is analysis just for analysts? A: Yes and no

BI analytics In an article in the Midsize Insider a few weeks ago Shawn Drew wrote that the latest research from Gartner “points out that advanced analytics is the fastest-growing area under the BI umbrella”.

It feels like we are moving towards a “BI for analysts only” culture, so I feel compelled to ask: Is analysis just for analysts?

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DecisionPoint™ for Excel – the route forward from Xcelsius

From spreadsheet to dashboardJust over 11 years ago, on 10th July at FlashForward 2003, SAP Dashboards, aka Xcelsius, first hit the BI market (see this and other historical facts about Xcelsius here). It was a standalone desktop tool which allowed pretty much anyone to create amazing interactive dashboards on top of data in Excel and was one of the most innovative software products of its time.

In later versions, particularly after it was acquired by Business Objects, it gained the ability to connect to enterprise data sources, but it was what it did for standalone Excel users which was the source of its initial success.

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Self-service BI – what does it mean and what do you need?

Self-service BIThere has been a lot of talk lately about self-service within our industry. Glen Rabie, Yellowfin CEO, has been saying that self-service data discovery isn’t what users need, and Alan Hart at Business2Community has been asking if data scientists are becoming obsolete in the wake of self-service.

Labels often only serve to confuse, and “self-service BI” is certainly one of those terms. The confusion arises because “self-service BI” means widely different things to different people.

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Lean BI – Are you doing it every two weeks?

Agile BIPetr Podrouzek wrote the first in a series of thirteen articles about agile business intelligence (BI) a few days ago. In this first article, Agile for BI is recommended by the experts, but is it used in the real world?, Petr points out that through his six years of working on BI projects he has never seen agile BI in use. To further his argument he says that many BI projects start out with an agile approach but that this is quickly abandoned in favor of the traditional waterfall model, where requirements are collected and a data model is developed followed by data sourcing and development of ETLs.

As Petr points out, this slow and excruciating process takes up precious time from everyone involved. And at the end of the day the customers, the ones who depend on your dashboards and reports, are left disappointed.

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Is Data Discovery like a Joke?

A few weeks ago, @startupvitamins tweeted a great quote :-

A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.

And no-where is this more true than end-user Business Intelligence (BI). It makes sense for analysts to carve out the time to sit down and learn generic data analysis tools as they form a central part of their jobs. But for the rest of us, with operational responsibilities, things are different, we need BI which we can just use, without explanation.

Here at Antivia we have been championing this for the last few years, (read pretty much any of our other blog posts to see what I mean). Our product DecisionPoint does exactly this, it allows you to quickly and easily create easy-to-use, no-training-required BI apps and dashboards that you don’t have to explain to end-users. Continue reading