I am so glad that my Information Week article BI in Healthcare is receiving interest and mostly positive feedback. I believe that this is indeed a very important topic to write about, especially considering how behind the times the industry is, and what a unique opportunity we have right now to get it right. We so strongly believe that this is such a critical IT issue and challenge, that Forrester is even bending its own rules slightly – typically all our research is “role” based, not industry based, as we most often find that challenges and requirements by role are almost always very similar across industries. Healthcare and public sectors seem to be a big exception, and therefore, I and some of my colleagues do plan to publish more Healthcare IT specific research. For example, I am currently in the middle of surveying top 30+ BI vendors specializing in Healthcare against 40+ criteria. Stay tuned to the results of this research. And my colleague, Craig LeClair (http://www.forrester.com/rb/search/results.jsp?N=0+11226), is in the midst of conducting research on EMR best practices.
I heard an interesting comment from an executive at one of the big services firms - that application portfolio management (APM) efforts must begin by mapping business processes for the applications. I really don't agree, but thought it would make an interesting topic to discuss here. Part of the argument stems from how services firms are routinely engaged - to take action against one application or a group of applications to transform, re-engineer business processes, reengineer, refactor or otherwise modernize an application. All are useful activities and techniques, but they are not portfolio management techniques - they are modernization techniques. Modernization and APM live together on a continuum of application activity that includes in order:
Modernization - the actions we can take against an existing application - monitor & maintain, modernize in some way, replace (rewrite/pkg) or retire.
TIBCO's acquisition of DataSynapse for a reported $28 million gives the company a development team and mature products with which to flesh out its TIBCO Silver cloud-computing platform and expand its financial-services revenue. The acquisition means two things to application development organizations.
1. TIBCO will use Data Synapse's technology to support a variety of
existing enterprise applications on its Silver cloud middleware.
Silver, which is in beta test, today transposes new applications built
in Java, C++, and several other languages to internal and public cloud
infrastructure providers. DataSynapse's FabricServer software will
help customers adapt a variety of existing applications to cloud
infrastructure as well. These include Java applications based on IBM
WebSphere, Oracle WebLogic, and Red Hat JBoss, Microsoft .NET Framework
3.0, IIS, and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, SAP Business Objects,
IBM Cognos, Informatica, and SAS Institute, and a variety of
vertical-industry specialists.This is a substantial expansion of TIBCO Silver's value to customers.
A common diagnosis of many troubled app dev shops is that they don't understand the business well enough. The result is developers build applications that don't quite satisify the business needs, are hard to change, have poor user experiences, are not delivered on time, or any combination of the above. Despite all the silver bullets over the years such as formal methodologies, new roles, tools, and technologies, app dev shops remain largely afflicted. According to a survey I conducted last year, application developers concur that a common characteristic of great application developers is that they have a deep understanding of the business domain. Understanding the business does not mean you read the docs. It means you know the business in your bones.
Mike Gualtieri and I had a surprising argument about developer downloads with several vendors as we compiled our Forrester Wave: Complex Event Processing (CEP) Platforms, Q3 2009. Developers consistently tell us they want unrestricted platform downloads -- no time bombs, no forced contacts with the vendor's sales staff, no limited-function versions. The vendors in question disputed our insistence on valuing download policies that had no such limits.
We thought in this era of open source, everyone understood this point about developer downloads. Downloads are a great way to encourage developers to learn your product's ins, outs, values, and issues. But developers learn at their own pace, not on your schedule. Developers need your whole product because they will follow a variety of paths to knowledge, not just the paths that make sense to you. And developers don't want to listen to a sales rep's pitch on the wonders of your software.
I typically don’t like to comment on rumors, but this one is too juicy (from the BI point of view) to pass by. Even though TIBCO’s business is primarily in application and process integration, enterprise service bus, middleware, messaging, etc., Business Intelligence implications of the rumored SAP/TIBCO merger are huge! By acquiring TIBCO SAP will get:
The founding Fathers of the United States understood all too well the importance of complex events when on July 4th, 1776 they wrote:
"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to...etcetera, etcetera, and etcetera".
Similarly, many of today's business and IT leaders understand the importance of reacting to business events as they occur in real-time and how that can dramatically change the performance and agility of their business.
Event processing, often called "complex event processing" (CEP) is a hot new enterprise middleware category. CEP answers the question: "What is happening right now in our business"? Sometimes the answer is as simple as ordering more products when the inventory dips below safety stock, but often it involves recognizing patterns of business events that foretell critical business situations that require immediate action.
CEP platforms analyze streams of data as they flow from live sources such as transaction flows, click streams, market data feeds, and myriad other sources of data swirling around inside a business environment. The platforms then prompt either downstream applications or people to react to the information by resetting processing priorities, changing online sales strategies, buying and selling stocks, or performing some other action.