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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2008 Application Development Professionals Success Imperatives

Mike Gualtieri
  1. Modernize development and delivery practices to improve throughput
  2. Adopt architectures that can evolve in lockstep with business needs
  3. Design rich, dynamic applications that support the way people actually work
  4. Maximize the business impact of projects and portfolios
  5. Select the right app dev technologies for today's needs 6. Optimize software and services sourcing strategy

What Is Your Future?

Mike Gualtieri

Mike Gualtieri Everyday, you are in the trenches building apps that the business needs to be successful.  Our number one job at Forrester is to help make you better, faster and stronger.  That means helping you understand best practices, tools, technologies, architectures, platforms and methodologies that are aligned with your success imperatives.  But, it also means hypothesizing about the future of application development and especially what the future means to you.

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Everything That Happens In The Enterprise Software Market Affects BI

Boris Evelson

Jameskobielus_10Borisevelson_2  By Jim Kobielus and Boris Evelson

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More Reasons For Microsoft/FAST Search Transaction

Boris Evelson

Borisevelson_3By Boris Evelson

While I echo my colleagues' earlier comments on the Microsoft/FAST Search transaction, I also give Microsoft thumbs up for being the first of the major BI vendors to embrace alternative DBMS for BI. For a while now I've been predicting that alternative DBMS for BI will gain continually increasing momentum for the following reasons:

  • Traditional relational databases were designed from the ground up for transaction processing, not BI. Only in the last decade have they even begun to accommodate BI-style queries, and still play a constant balancing act between OLTP and OLAP optimization. Columnar databases, such as Vertica, Sybase IQ, KX, ParAccel, SAND Technology, InfoBright, are specifically designed and optimized for nothing but OLAP query processing. Their schemas are also much more flexible since it's as easy to drop, add, or update a column in a columnar database as it is to insert, change, or delete a row in a relational database.
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Convergence Of The 3 Bs

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson and Colin Teubner.

Business intelligence (BI) practitioners have always thought of the world as data-centric. Data integration, data warehouses, data marts, reports, and query builders were always about data. BI has traditionally excelled at answering questions like "what happened" or even "why did it happen" but always fell short on "what do I do about it" and fell short of the next logical steps which traditionally have been the realm of business process management (BPM) and business rules engines (BRE). This data-centric view of the world turns out to be plain wrong. The world is much more process and rules-centric. We run many processes every time we come to the office, these processes generate data, which in turn trigger rules, and in turn generate more data output that is being consumed by processes in an endless loop.

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Elusiveness Of BI TEI

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

Why is BI TEI (Total Economic Impact) so elusive? Recently I reached out to all major BI software vendors and asked them to provide a customer reference who's willing to stand up and confirm a hard $ return on investment from BI implementation. Guess how many takers I got? None. Yes many are willing to point to expected savings and benefits, but no one's gone back and calculated the actual results. Why? It is definitely very complex. For example:

Costs

  • Make sure you account for both direct and indirect costs.
  • Direct costs are the obvious expenses and capital expenditures associated with BI software, hardware and consulting services. A good rule of thumb is to expect to pay $5-$7 dollars for system integration and management consulting for every $1 you pay for software. And don't forget to include the costs of training and on-going support.
  • Indirect costs are for software/hardware/services for non-BI specific components which are nevertheless necessary to achieve a successful BI implementation: data quality, master data management, metadata implementation, portals, collaboration, knowledge management and many others. The indirect costs are not as easy to quantify. For example, do you attribute the cost of implementing a data quality solution to the BI initiative? Most likely your data quality problems exist in your sources, so one might think it should be a separate effort. However, very often you identify data quality problems when you build your first BI solution, so there may be a tendency to bundle in these costs into the BI project. As a result, these indirect costs are notoriously difficult to identify and negotiate (with other stakeholders), but nevertheless they are a major component of the total cost.
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At The Risk Of Repeating Myself — BI Market Continues To Consolidate

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

I remember my days as a PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant in the late 90's and early 2000, when the company was awash in HP acquisition rumors and then later discussions of the failed transaction. IBM beat HP and picked up a gem — PwC in these days was hard to beat in many areas, especially in business intelligence management consulting offerings. HP then went on an picked up a much smaller BI boutique Knightsbridge. Now that IBM is acquiring Cognos, will HP follow the same fate and acquire smaller Information Builders, Microstrategy or Actuate? There's also still SAS that would give HP a complete BI stack, but as we know acquiring the world's largest privately held company can be a financial and cultural fit nightmare (plus a rumored $20B or more than 10x revenues price tag is hard for anyone to swallow). That's why I thought that HP's potential acquisition of Cognos + Informatica + Teradata could've given HP best of breed components in all areas of BI stack. But just like with PwC, HP will now have to pursue smaller, more niche BI opportunities.

Back to IBM. Well, not so fast. Back to IBM and SAP. In my opinion, IBM/COGN and SAP/BOBJ deals are defensive moves since both companies have been telling us for years that they prefer to grow their BI portfolios organically, with smaller tuck-in acquisition. However, organic growth is not happening fast enough, and giving in to sideway pressures from Oracle (with two top of the line BI products from Siebel and Hyperion) and upward pressures from Microsoft (after Proclarity acquisition and with significant Performance Point market momentum), IBM and SAP had no choice but to react.

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