Play fair... or they'll come after your secrets

Chris McClean

I’m not usually one for ‘this-could-happen-to-you’ stories, but I’m still having trouble getting over last month’s story about grocery giant Tesco having to turn over 11 million emails to the UK’s Competition Commission for their investigation into possible anti-competitive practices against its suppliers.

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Role Management and eSSO vendors - a call for action

Andras Cser

Part of a successful Identity Management (IdM) project is a successful role discovery and mapping phase. Many organizations -- after having mapped and optimized their business processes -- turn to role design and management solutions (VAUU RBACx, BHOLD, Oracle's BridgeStream, and others). While these solutions give a great initial insight into the existing role structure, they are not the only source of role interrelationship information. Role design can build

on

many other sources: demographics mined from helpdesk tickets from users requesting access, job descriptions, quality management systems (it certain cases this is wishful thinking...), and increasingly from Enterprise or Desktop eSSO solutions (PassLogix, ActivIdentity, CA). eSSO solutions store multiple login credentials for users to multiple applications. As such, extracting account linkage, mapping and correlating user IDs between user repositories based

on

access information built by end-users is much more reliable than any artificial role mining logic, usually based

on

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SAP Launches Business ByDesign

Paul Hamerman

SAP's official announcement of Business ByDesign, formerly known as A1S, targets midsize companies looking for relief from complicated ERP implementations and support. Some key points regarding the Business ByDesign (BBD) announcement:

• The solution will be provided as a hosted, subscription service

• A dedicated website enables a try-before-you-buy sales approach, where customers can rapidly configure a demo system that reflects their needs

• Pricing is set at $149 per user, per month, with an nominal charge for self-service users

• The scope of the offering is comprehensive, spanning finance, HR, supply chain, supplier relationship management, CRM, project management and compliance management.

• SAP has 20 live early adopters and another 20 that are actively engaged in rolling the solution out. The initial emphasis is on US and Germany, with expansion to more markets in 2008 and 2009.

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Sesame Street 2.0

Stephen Powers

Web 2.0 is hitting the preschool set, as children's TV favorite Sesame Street is now producing a weekly video podcast. Each video podcast is five minutes long and features content repurposed from the show’s broadcasts. The content is available as a download on the show’s Web site and via an RSS feed, as well as through iTunes (apparently to help keep the wee ones occupied and educated while they're being dragged around town on errands).


So even the Muppets are finding new ways of engaging their customers by distributing Web 2.0-type content through multiple channels. Hope they’re using a digital asset management system and a good solid taxonomy while they’re at it.

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BI Market Consolidation Predictions

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

Yet another rumor crossed the wires today about Business Objects getting ready for a takeover. These rumors have come up before, and it may be nothing else but a routine exercise that BO and other vendors go through to test the market periodically.

As I already blogged back in March '07, there's no denying however that the business intelligence (BI) and business performance solutions (BPS) markets are consolidating. Last year Microsoft bought ProClarity; this year Oracle bought Hyperion, Business Objects acquired Carthesis, SAP acquired Outlooksoft, and most recently Cognos acquired Applix.

I predict that within 2-3 years there will be five major BI vendors carving up the BI and BPS market: Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle and HP. There'll be much M&A activity seen from these vendors in the near future.

Here's how I see it playing out:

  • HP will probably make the next big move by acquiring somebody like Business Objects, Cognos or SAS. HP is pushing into BI market very strongly: It repositioned NeoView as a strong data warehouse (DW) platform and bought Knightsbridge — leading BI boutique strategy and implementation consultancy. It'd make a lot of sense for HP to pick up BO or SAS, since in one transaction HP would get the entire BI and PM suite. Cognos would be the second choice for them, since Cognos does not have operational ETL and data quality offerings.
  • SAP told us repeatedly that they can't justify very large acquisitions — it doesn't fit their model. So Microstrategy, Actuate or Information Builders would be more obvious pick up choices for them.
  • I sincerely hope that Oracle is more than busy with Hyperion integration and more than set in the BI and BPS markets for a while. I don't see the next big move coming from them.
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Cognos Makes A Smart Move To Pick Up Applix

Paul Hamerman

Continuing the trend of rapid consolidation in the business performance solutions (BPS) space, Cognos announced a definitive agreement to acquire Applix on Sept. 5. Cognos is positioning the acquisition as an extension of its financial performance management capability. The combination is an interesting contrast of styles:

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BI Dominoes Continue To Fall...

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

Today Cognos announced its intention to acquire Applix, Inc for a cash tender offer of $17.87 per share, or approximately $339 million.

This acquisition is primarily about performance management, and I quote my colleague, Paul Hamerman: “This continues a trend of rapid consolidation in the business performance solutions space, following acquisitions of pure plays by larger BI and ERP vendors. Applix has been a stellar performer as a flexible platform for customers to rapidly implement applications for planning, budgeting, forecasting and business performance analytics. Although Cognos has been a leader in performance management solutions, the Applix technology gives it an opportunity to refresh its offerings and more aggressively sell to the midmarket.”

The BI side of this acquisition is all about TM1 OLAP technology. Cognos’s Powerplay OLAP product has been trailing Microsoft SQLServer Analysis Services and Hyperion (recently acquired by Oracle) Essbase in market adoption. With TM1, a memory-based OLAP cube, Cognos achieves several objectives:

  • Leapfrogs Microsoft and Oracle with one of the fastest read/write OLAP technologies on the market.
  • Provides an enterprise grade in-memory OLAP alternative to fast-growing and increasingly popular QlikTech, which is more of a departmental solution.
  • Provides additional midmarket entry points for Cognos

The future of the rest of the Applix BI products — reporting, querying, dashboards, and data integration — is quite murky. Cognos will face the same challenge as Oracle now does with the Hyperion acquisition: Establishing a strategy and a road map of overlapping product portfolio integration or sunsetting/retirement.

Web 2.0 Changes The Information Workplace

by Erica Driver and Connie Moore.

When Forrester first published the report The Information Workplace Will Redefine The World Of Work At Last in June of 2005, we described the Information Workplace as contextual, role-based, seamless, guided, visual, and multimodal. We included some Web 2.0 technologies like blogs and wikis in our discussion about the elements of the Information Workplace. But the impact Web 2.0 will have on the way people work goes way beyond new collaboration tools. With Web 2.0:

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Social Computing As Disposable Technology

Rob Koplowitz

by Rob Koplowitz.

The question of measuring ROI of social computing is hot because it's so much a part of enterprise software acquisition. As information and knowledge management professionals move to get ahead of this emerging technology curve, they find a very consistent pattern:

  • People are using this stuff! Blogs and wikis in particular are popping up everywhere. Why not? They are easy to access, often free, and they are dead simple to use. It's one of those permission / forgiveness things. We've all done it.
  • If people are using these things that IT doesn't know about, there is no way of ensuring security, privacy, availability, governance, compliance, risk mitigation and all of those good things that keep the organization running and employees out of trouble (maybe even jail!).
  • Most really don't want to shut it down because in many instances these are more efficient solutions than those provided by the organization. These tools are often just easier and better for generating and publishing content.
  • The natural inclination in this situation would be to bring in the tradtional software vendors and see if they can support these new technology directions. Not surprisingly, a number of big vendors are ready and willing to help, including BEA, IBM/Lotus, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.
  • Sounds great. Lots of reasons to go with one of the big vendors (see bullet 2).
  • How much will it cost? How much will it give back? In other words, can the acquisition be justified with a strong return on investment analysis?
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Categories:

Dashboards — Turning Information Into Actions

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

I get many questions on dashboards and scorecards and the role these tools play in BI (Business Intelligence). If we use Forrester’s definition of BI — a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information — then we see that dashboards are just the tip of the BI iceberg. One cannot build “just a dashboard”, without considering, architecting and implementing  many other necessary BI layers and components such as data integration (ETL, data quality, etc), analytics (OLAP), metrics management, and many supporting components such as collaboration, knowledge management, metadata and master data management, and others. So that’s the first key takeaway: do not be fooled by 2nd tier dashboard vendor claims that one can implement an enterprise wide dashboard easily and inexpensively.

Let’s start with definitions, since I see the terms dashboards and scorecards used interchangeably:

  • Dashboards are just one style of interactive user interface, designed to deliver historical, current, and predictive information typically represented by key performance indicators (KPIs) using visual cues to focus user attention on important conditions, trends and exceptions.
  • Scorecards are a type of a dashboard which link KPIs to goals, objectives and strategies. Many scorecards follow a certain methodology, such as Balanced Scorecard, Six Sigma, Capability Maturity Models, etc.
  • Other types of dashboards include Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) dashboards and visualizations of data / text mining operations.
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