I’ve recently conducted research on the issues of VLDB (very large databases) and how it affects BI, since the challenges of reporting and analyzing Gb data sets are very different from reporting and analyzing multi Tb data sets. Among many other interesting findings and conclusions I uncovered the following approaches to handling VLDB challenges as they relate to BI:
Generic solutions by DBMS vendors:
Share everything vs. share nothing architecture
Caching, in-memory databases
Specialized file systems
Indexing (bit-map vs. B-tree)
BI-specific solutions by BI and other vendors:
ROLAP and reporting tool specific SQL optimization
Alternate DBMS (such as search indexes and vector DBMS)
I predict that for the foreseeable future, spreadsheets will remain the most widely used enterprise application. The widespread adoption isn't hard to understand — spreadsheets are powerful and flexible, yet intuitive and easy to use and learn. Plus, ad hoc applications and spreadsheet models isolate users from constant reliance on IT and incur low costs. Since the early days of BI, spreadsheets have played a natural and major role in the BI process/architecture, including:
I've been in the BI business for over 25 years so I've seen many ups and downs in the BI cycle. We are definitely in the "up" cycle these days. I see two main reasons for it:
Enterprises can no longer stay competitive just by squeezing more efficiencies from operational applications – business intelligence applications are needed to become more effective.
Digital data (structured and unstructured) volumes are growing at 30% a year, and will be reaching zetabyte sizes by year 2010 – that’s a number with 21 zeros! Solid BI implementations will be critical to successfully turn that data into useful information.
Does anyone have any comments on where we are in the BI cycle and what are some of the more recent key drivers?
Google's plan to buy DoubleClick has put many privacy advocate groups up in arms. One company knowing what you're searching, and then following you throughout the web just feels creepy. DoubleClick counters the argument by saying that their marketing clients are the ones that retain web surfing information, not DoubleClick itself. Other Forrester Analysts such as Charlene Li and Shar VanBoskirk have also blogged about this deal. I think they make some great points about how this deal works for Google, keeping DoubleClick away from Microsoft and building their own business with a bang.
Adobe has put an end to much speculation, announcing that it will take Flex into the open source realm and make the source and documentation available under the Mozilla Public License. This move certainly ratchets up the battle between Flex and Microsoft’s Silverlight technology — both are used to create rich Internet apps. Microsoft has targeted Flash and Flex, so Adobe apparently has come to believe that open source is the best option for gaining ubiquity for Flex. Traditionally, Microsoft has had the edge with developers; Adobe with designers. Adobe is clearly hoping this move will shake that up.
I've had it — enough is enough. Over the past five business days, four of my flights, three on United and one on JetBlue, or almost 100% of them over this time frame, were delayed long enough that I missed two critical meetings that were the original reason for booking the flights in the first place. Making it worse, only one of the delays (the five hour one) was for weather problems. The other flights were delayed because crews from other planes were not at Washington Dulles or Boston Logan in time for my flights to take off as originally scheduled. So there I was, cooling my heels, wasting time at Dulles airport while I was supposed to be rehearsing an important speech with a speech coach in Boston. And the next day . . . there I was, on an airplane somewhere between Boston and Washington DC, when I was supposed to be on an important phone call with a major client. I salvaged that conference call by booking a meeting room at United's Red Carpet Club — at $80 an hour — and by racing to the meeting room after we landed so I could make my two hour long, confidential phone call from there, a mere 30 minutes past start time. Thank heaven for truly gracious and understanding clients.
Similar to demand signals in the supply chain for the auto industry, the flow of information via data management drives our ability to evaluate, decide, and act in our information worker economy. Delivering relevant data to the right person, time, and place, in the appropriate context remains a key challenge MDM professionals encounter. Taking a page out of Japanese-born lean principles in supply chain, we can apply the following:
Organization’s learning leaders hear the words “informal learning” or “eLearning 2.0” and think, “Oh my, now we have to change the way we provide training!” Yes, you may want to make some changes but, more importantly, you need to look at existing learning within your organization and determine what is training and what is education or development. I see two distinct types of learning that are both complementary, but also dramatically different. Today’s knowledge workers need both.
Training refers to the learning that employees access in order to do their job. This includes traditional mandated training for fields like accounting or pharmaceuticals. But a large percentage of training should be the “just-in-time” kind that gives the employees the information or knowledge refresher that they need to continue their work task. This informal learning is driven by the employee and is generally not tracked except to indicate the number of employees who have accessed the sites. Examples include online mentoring, clicking on the “just-in-time” learning related to the work topic for a three-to-five minute learning nugget, accessing the context-sensitive learning built into the application, or clicking on “expertise location” on the intranet to find a person in the organization who has the expertise to help. This kind of training or knowledge seeking requires a good search engine to find a document, PowerPoint, video, blog, wiki, etc. on the organization’s intranet site. A good practice is to make the five to ten-minute learning objects or course components searchable so an employee can find the exact part of a module or course that will provide the assistance they need.
The WCM vendor landscape has shifted again, as global information management solution vendor SDL has announced that it will acquire Tridion. SDL and Tridion are touting the complementary functionality of SDL’s translation management capabilities and Tridion’s WCM product, and the inevitable tighter integration between the two. The acquision certainly provides Tridion more stability, and gives the soon-to-be-christened SDL Tridion a strong Web content globalization story. This should also give Tridion leg up in the US; Tridion has opened two US offices over the past year or so in an effort to target the North American market, but SDL already has a bigger field organization there.
My take: this isn't an earthshaking announcement, but Tridion and SDL are stronger together than they are apart. For Tridion customers, the good news is that Tridion and SDL don’t have overlapping technologies, so this acquisition shouldn’t lead to any forseeable pain for future upgrades. And the Tridion management team will be in place for the next two years, lending some stability to the acquisition.
SDL and Tridion will be announcing a technology roadmap and integration timeline sometime in the next six weeks. Stay tuned.