What is BI? There are two prevailing definitions out there – broad and narrow. The broad definition (using our own) is that BI is a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insight and decision-making. But if we stick to this definition then shouldn’t we include data integration, data quality, master data management, data warehousing and portals in BI? I know lots of folks would disagree and fit these into data management or information management segments, but not BI.
Then, the narrow definition is used when referring to just the top layers of the BI architectural stack such as reporting, analytics and dashboards. But even there, as Jim Kobielus and I discovered as we were preparing to launch our BI TechRadar 2010 research, we could count over 20 (!) product categories such as Advanced Analytics, Analytical Performance Management, Scorecards, BI appliances and BI SaaS, BI specific DBMS, BI Workspaces, Dashboards, Geospatial analytics, Low Latency BI, Metadata Generated BI Apps, Non modeled exploration and In-memory analytics, OLAP, Open Source BI and SaaS BI, Packaged BI Apps, Process / Content Analytics, Production reports and ad-hoc query builders, Search UI for BI, Social Network / Media Analytics, Text analytics, Web Analytics.
To make matters worse, some folks out there are now trying to clearly separate BI and analytics, by trying to push a “core, traditional BI is commoditized, analytics is where differentiation is today” message. Hmmm, I thought I was building analytical apps using OLAP starting back in the early 80’s.
TECH DEVELOPMENTS: With SAP's release of its Q1 2010 earnings, it is clear that those who saw an irresistible shift from licensed software to software-as-a-service (SaaS) are a bit premature in their obituaries for the licensed software model. SAP's license revenues increased by 11% in euros, and by 18% when its euro revenues are converted into dollars at the average exchange rates in Q1 2010 and Q1 2009. Oracle's license revenues for its fiscal quarter ending February 2010 rose by 13% in US dollars (and 7% in euros). Among other vendors, Lawson reported a 28% increase in its license revenues (in dollars), and Epicor reported 23%.
These growth rates partly reflect how badly licensed software (which is treated as capital investment) got hit in the general cutbacks in business corporate investment in 2009, as panicked companies scrambled to conserve cash and avoid having to borrow from shut-down financial markets. However, I think there's more to the recovery than rebound from depressed levels a year ago.
Forrester's surveys of companies about why they don't like software-as-a-service consistently turn up five reasons: 1) inability to customize; 2) difficulty in integration to other systems; 3) security of data and information; 4) worries about pricing models that put clients on a constantly rising escalator; and 5) lack of SaaS products. SaaS vendors are addressing all of these, and there is no question that these barriers are eroding. But they still persist, and mean that the license software model has a high degree of persistence in software categories like core ERP systems (integration and security of core data), industry-focused applications (need for customization), eProcurement products (integration to ERP systems), and contract life cycle management products (security of contract data).
Customer relationship management (CRM) has always been a multichannel discipline. You should connect and bond with your customers through whatever mix of channels they use or prefer. That has traditionally meant that existing channels be supplemented and extended by whatever new technologies come along. Hence, any enterprise serious about multichannel CRM has begun to add social media to a strategy that includes point of sale (PoS), direct postal mail, agent-assisted telephony, interactive voice response, e-mail, portals, and text messaging—at the very least.
Social CRM is the newest craze in this arena. It refers generally to the convergence of social media with CRM. However, in the minds of some observers it seems to imply that social media will somehow become the most important CRM channel of all, marginalizing or obsoleting others. I take issue with that perspective, which threatens to turn social media, in all their billowing multiplicity, into a big new overstuffed silo in the CRM world.
I don’t deny that social-networking interfaces are all the rage in the CRM space. One obvious case in point is salesforce.com’s Chatter collaboration platform, which looks and feels so Facebook-y that, navigating through it, I half-expect my cousins to be posting new vacation pictures to the community.
HP's acquisition of Palm is all over the twitterverse at the moment. And everyone has an opinion on it, and what it means (which brings to mind one of my favorite movie quotes). There are precious few facts around at present - and only time will tell exactly how the acquisition will pan out. Either way, CIOs should know the following facts about HP and the acquisition of Palm:
I stopped down to RIM's WES (5,000 enterprise mobile pros, ISVs, and carriers) conference in Orlando yesterday. The company's been taking heat lately from Wall Street analysts who seem more interested in watching iPhones rise than tracking BlackBerry units shipped. What you as an information & knowledge management professional should care about is if RIM will be a strong partner in the future. At the conference, I saw six things that give me great confidence that RIM is future-proofing companies' investments in the BlackBerry platform:
BES Express is basic BES for $0. And it's good enough for most employees in most industries. RIM says it's taking off, with 55,000 downloads of the server software since March. And according to RIM, it's designed to scale out to enterprise levels.
BlackBerry 6 is the OS that you've been waiting for. While the mobile world was going WebKit browser, RIM was still Java-only. They've fixed that in the next version of the operating system, due out in Q3 2010. See the video clip for a sneak peak: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlO8KMv7Bx4. It has a much better browser, better touchscreen features, and a cleaner interface. And with RIM's participation in Adobe's open screens initiative, I expect to see Flash support as well, something iPhone doesn't have.
The Pearl 3G and a new Bold prove that RIM understands fashion and usability. Frankly, these devices are gorgeous. I've always loved the Pearl, but I got tired of the Edge network. With the Pearl 3G, and its optical track pad, 3G, Wi-Fi, better screen, it's a beauty with brains. And it fits into my pocket in a way that the iPhone just doesn't.
RIM's carrier-focus means it will get the attention that you need in every market. 175 carriers. Enough said.
In a recent blog post called "Drop The Pilot," Andrew McAfee argues that most "Enterprise 2.0" pilots are unintentionally set up to fail. This is in part because such enterprise communities depend upon broad employee acceptance in order to be effective. This doesn't mean that collaboration platforms are only effective in organizations with tens of thousands of employees, but it certainly helps. And the challenge with pilots is that they are frequently focused on a subset of the organization -- these pilots never really have the chance to fully realize their potential. Perhaps the best pilots are those that are not limited in scale but limited in time -- they determine adoption rates over time and use the pilot to figure out how to make the final rollout more successful.
In his blog post McAfee goes on to suggest six steps toward effective deployment which gel nicely with the key lessons learned from the United Business Media (UBM) case study published recently. McAfee suggests you should:
"Deploy tools that deliver a novel capability, like microblogging, social network formation, or prediction markets. Tools that deliver something novel -- that aren’t trying to displace an incumbent -- avoid the 9X effect.
Make sure the tools are frictionless, freeform, and emergent. This lowers barriers to participation and altruism.
I had an interesting briefing Monday with Ashif Mawji, the CEO of Upside Software, and Dan Townsend, VP of Sales and Marketing. Upside is primarily known as a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software vendor but also offers RFx capabilities and some elements of Supplier Performance Management. Upside is built on .NET and is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner who also boasts Microsoft as a customer.
I rarely blog about vendor briefings, but this one stood out for a couple of reasons. First, it was the kind of briefing that as an IT industry analyst I’ve really grown to appreciate -- no slides, good two-way dialogue and a concise but impactful product demo. And, it was that product demo that really got my attention.
So you need to formulate an application modernization decision -- what to do with a given application -- how do you begin that decision making process? In the past, modernization decisions were often simply declared -- "We are moving to this technology" -- for a number of reasons, such as, it:
Keeps us current on technology.
Provides a more acceptable user-interface or integration capability.
Increases our exposure to access by external customers.
Increases the volume of business transaction we can process.
Trades custom/bespoke applications for standardized application packages such as ERP, payroll, human resources, etc.
Fast-forward to today -- you could simply go with your gut -- declare a solution based on what you currently know (or think you know) about the application in question. But it's a new day baby -- a proposal like that, without proper justification, is likely to be met with one of two responses from management:
During Interop, I've been bouncing around between the tracks, going to sessions in both the data center and the virtualization tracks. I’ve learned a lot of interesting stuff that I would like to share with you all! The first data center session of day one was: Bridging the C-Suite Gap: How To Build The Business Case For Data Center Transformation with Brooks Esser, Worldwide Lead, CIO Agenda at HP.
Brooks started out by demystifying the role of today's CIO for infrastructure and operations professionals. CIOS are measured in three ways:
Accelerating business growth.
As much as they are technologists, CIOs are now also business people… they need to understand the business, management, and technology priorities:
Their goals in the business are to improve operations and process.
In management, their objectives are to link IT and the business and to reduce ops costs.
It's become the job of the infrastructure and operations professional to take those technology priorities and link them back to the priorities of your CIO and their business priorities.
"As soon as you can talk about management and business priorities, you can talk to the CIO about the technology projects you want to drive."
HP has a defined methodology for building any business case, which has three simple steps:
The green IT track at Interop Las Vegas kicked off with a session from yours truly on “The Evolution Of Green IT: Projects That Cut Cost, Avoid Risk, And Grow Revenues” to help IT professionals plan for green IT’s current and future state, backed up with a number of real-life examples. Here are the key takeaways that I&O professionals should pay attention to: