Excel As A BI Tool? Not So Fast!

Boris Evelson

Borisevelson By Boris Evelson

Ever since our latest BI Wave was published a couple of weeks ago, I keep hearing comments about why we have not included evaluation of Excel as a BI tool. For example, Rajan Chandras, one of the contributing editors to the Intelligent Enterprise, poses really good arguments in his recent blog on why, when and how Excel can and should be used as a BI tool. Excellent question, everyone!

  • As I wrote in my very first report when I joined Forrester, Ouch! Get Ready - Spreadsheets Are Here To Stay For Business Intelligence: "Spreadsheets - the most widely used business intelligence (BI) tool - are a permanent fixture in enterprises because no other analytical application outperforms them in flexibility, ease of use, and ubiquity."
  • Furthermore, I consider Excel a major component of BI Workspaces: BI Without Borders.
  • And last, but not least, we do place a heavy emphasis on Excel as a delivery vehicle or UI for all BI environments in our Wave.
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The Joker On Open Source Software: "If you're good at something, never do it for free"

Mike Gualtieri

ThejokerThe Dark Knight is chock full of memorable quotes and, dare I say, advice from none other than the Joker, a role played eerily, crazily, and fabulously by the late Heath Ledger. One of the many quotes that stuck with me is "If you are good at something, never do it for free." This is pretty good advice, especially when you are proposing to "Kill the Batman" in exchange for half of the mob's money. It worked for the Joker. He got the job.

But, is this advice good for software developers?

On the surface it seems silly to even ask the question. Why would anyone want to work for free? But plenty of people donate their time and talent to causes great and small in an effort to help people and to benefit humanity. That is a good thing. But, is this in fact good advice for open source software developers? To answer this question we need to know what motivates them and what they hope to gain.

Software developers contribute to open source projects for many different reasons.

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And They Lived Happily Ever After. Not!

Boris Evelson

BorisevelsonBy Boris Evelson

When Business Objects got acquired by SAP earlier this year, it made a statement that it plans to continue to remain an open, heterogeneous BI vendor, treating all partners equally. Apparently, all partners are not created equal – and, as we suspected and long predicted, this Business Objects strategy does not extend to its own parent.

Well, the cat's finally out of the bag. Efforts are already underway at SAP to improve the existing connectivity between Business Objects products and SAP applications. The improved connectivity that Catsoutofthebagmay result from these efforts will be very much optimized for Business Objects products only. SAP states that "SAP customers who instead decide to move forward with non-SAP third party BI tools will not benefit from these types of improvements and enhancements."

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Do You Aspire To Be A CIO?

Mike Gualtieri

Mikegualtieri_2 Many application developers aspire to be a CIO or at least have words of advice for their CIO. Please check out my latest column on CIO magazine's website: 9 Reasons Why Application Developers Think Their CIO Is Clueless.

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What Happened To The Airline Industry's Business Intelligence?

Boris Evelson

BorisevelsonBy Boris Evelson

Remember my blog dated January 16, 2008 where I said that everything that happens in the software market is somehow related to Business Intelligence? I am now expanding that conjecture to include all other market segments. Specifically, the airline industry.  And not just Business Intelligence. Just plain old intelligence.

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What Is More Important: Resources or Talent?

Mike Gualtieri

Mikegualtieri Picture this. You, the application developer, are in a big conference room. On your left is your boss. On your right are enterprise architects. Across from you are the business analysts and project managers. In the hallway is the businessperson on his "crackberry".  Why is everyone gathered here?  To discuss the next important application development initiative that the business needs to drive revenue, stay competitive, and be more efficient.

The meeting starts.

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BI Products And Services Continue To Converge

Boris Evelson

Borisevelson_2 By Boris Evelson

Ever since I was an investment banker at JPMorgan supporting their Software M&A team, I was predicting that the future of products and services in enterprise applications is inseparable. Significant portion of our team M&A advice to product vendors was to beef up their services portfolios and vice versa. These were my thoughts then, that are still very valid today:

  • CXO engagement. It's much easier to approach a C-level executive during a strategy initiative, which traditionally is the realm of strategic advisory and management consulting firms. The earlier you get your foot in the door with a CXO, the higher are the chances he/she will also consider your products. Hence, ability to influence downstream decisions for procuring products and services decreases in the latter phases of any initiative.
  • Successful execution. Strong PMO (Project Management Office) capabilities such as methodology, certifications, track record, etc and ultimately successful product/project delivery are key to application vendor success.
  • Service-oriented architecture (SOA). Large enterprise IT, convinced that no single off-the-shelf solution suite is ever good enough for them, are seriously considering component (services) based architectures, which is causing vendors to move into dynamic (or otherwise known as composite) apps middleware and services to prevent marginalization.
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Free BI!

Boris Evelson

BorisevelsonBy Boris Evelson

Now that I caught your attention with the title -- it's not what you think. It's not about freeing BI from the constraints and limitations of corporate politics, organizational silos, and lack of proper data governance -- although that's a very worthy topic to write about.

This morning, Google will unveil a beta version of its spreadsheet application with some new advanced features, such as Pivot Table. The Pivot Table is a product developed by Panorama, a small, but upcoming BI vendor (they are currently being evaluated in detail by Forrester BI Wave '08), who were, interestingly enough, the original inventors of Microsoft Analysis Services OLAP (Online Analytic Processing) engine. So now, part of Panorama code will be inside two of the biggest software companies in the world!

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In The Mix

Jeffrey Hammond

Hi folks,

I spent some time out at MIX in early march getting up to speed with Microsoft's latest product releases for rich Internet application (RIA) development. I thought I'd offer a few thoughts on Ray Ozzie’s keynote.

Like last year, Ray kicked off the conference by sharing Microsoft's vision of SaaS - a slightly different version from the standard view. Given Microsoft’s investments in traditional platforms it makes sense that their vision of SaaS would be of "Software AND a service" as opposed to "software AS a service”. That said, Ray articulated three ideas that are driving Microsoft's vision for development forward. I'll recap as I interpreted them from my seat in the audience:

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Presidential Programming Languages

Mike Gualtieri

Presidentialseal_5

Just for fun. What if the next President of the United States of America was an application developer? What programming language would he/she use? No contemplation allowed. For each candidate, the first thing that came to mind (in alphabetical order):

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton would program in Java. Java was the hot language of the Internet boom in the 90's during Bill Clinton's presidency sometime just after Al Gore invented the Internet.  It continues to be one of the go-to development languages for new enterprise application development.

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