On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

Holger Kisker

When business processes finally become intelligent

Over the past several months I have done a lot of research on the BI market, the trends and the vendor landscape. There is a clear indication that BI solutions are becoming more sophisticated, more intelligent and – more integrated into other applications to enhance the performance of the application supported business processes.

Very recently now, in discussions with BPM vendors like IDS Scheer, HandySoft and many others it became very eminent that from the other side, BPM solutions are moving steadily into the field of Business Intelligence too. The world of BPM and BI solutions are converging to bring intelligent business processes to the market – eventually. However, today we are still some steps away from this picture and the convergence of BPM and BI will likely proceed in smaller steps are outlined in the below BI-BPM convergence model.

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Today several BPM vendors have actively integrated business intelligence capabilities into their solutions. Larger ones like IDS Scheer have developed their own analytics while smaller vendors like HandySoft are using OpenSorce components offered by JasperSoft and other OpenSource BI vendors. The integration offers users new and consistent insights along the whole business process. A user in this context means both:

a) Business users that are part of the business process get access to relevant information and reports that increase the efficiency of the process, and

b) Business process owners get an insightful analytics of the process metadata to be able to further enhance and streamline the process.

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Customer Experience Increases the Bottom-Line and Social Media Makes Changing the Customer Experience Easier

91% of executives say customer experiences are critical or very important to their businesses, nearly 5,000 consumers prefer better customers experiences over lower prices and better customer experiences drive higher revenue and profits,—according to Forrester Research .

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Pros and cons of using a vendor provided analytical data model in your BI implementation

Boris Evelson

The following question comes from many of our clients: what are some of the advantages and risks of implementing a vendor provided analytical logical data model at the start of any Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing or other Information Management initiatives? Some quick thoughts on pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Leverage vendor knowledge from prior experience and other customers
  • May fill in the gaps in enterprise domain knowledge
  • Best if your IT dept does not have experienced data modelers 
  • May sometimes serve as a project, initiative, solution accelerator
  • May sometimes break through a stalemate between stakeholders failing to agree on metrics, definitions

Cons

 

  • May sometimes require more customization effort, than building a model from scratch
  • May create difference of opinion arguments and potential road blocks from your own experienced data modelers
  • May reduce competitive advantage of business intelligence and analytics (since competitors may be using the same model)
  • Goes against “agile” BI principles that call for small, quick, tangible deliverables
  • Goes against top down performance management design and modeling best practices, where one does not start with a logical data model but rather
    • Defines departmental, line of business strategies  
    • Links goals and objectives needed to fulfill these strategies  
    • Defines metrics needed to measure the progress against goals and objectives  
    • Defines strategic, tactical and operational decisions that need to be made based on metrics
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BI In The Cloud? Yes, And On The Ground, Too

Boris Evelson

Slowly but surely, with lots of criticism and skepticism, the business intelligence (BI) software-as-a-service (SaaS) market is gaining ground. It's a road full of peril — at least two BI SaaS startups have failed this year — but what software market segment has not seen its share of failures? Although I do not see a stampede to replace traditional BI applications with SaaS alternatives in the near future, BI SaaS does have a few legitimate use cases even today, such as complementary BI, in coexistence with traditional BI, BI workspaces, and BI for small and some midsize businesses. 

In our latest BI SaaS research report we recommend the following structured approach to see if BI SaaS is right for you and if you are ready for BI SaaS:

  1. Map your BI requirements and IT culture to one of five BI SaaS use cases
  2. Evaluate and consider scenarios where BI SaaS may be a right or wrong fit for you
  3. Select the BI SaaS vendor that fits your business, technical, and operational requirements, including your tolerance for risk

First we identified 5 following BI SaaS use cases.

  1. Coexistence case: on-premises BI complemented with SaaS BI in enterprises
  2. SaaS-centric case in enterprises: main BI application in enterprises committed to SaaS
  3. SaaS-centric case in midmarket: main BI application in midsized businesses
  4. Elasticity case: BI for companies with strong variations in activity from season to season
  5. Power user flexibility case: BI workspaces are often considered necessary by power analysts
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Bottom Up And Top Down Approaches To Estimating Costs For A Single BI Report

Boris Evelson

How much does it cost to produce a single BI report? Just like typical answers to most other typical questions, the only real answer is “it depends”. But let’s build a few scenarios:

Scenario 1: Services only. Bottom up, ABC approach.

Assumptions.

 

  • Medium complexity report. Two data sources. 4 way join. 3 facts by 5 dimensions. Prompting, filtering, sorting ranking on most of the columns. Some conditional formatting. No data model changes.
  • Specifications and design – 2 person days. Development and testing - 1 person day. UAT – 1 person day.
  • Loaded salary for an FTE $120,000/yr or about ~$460/day.
  • Outside contractor $800/day.

Cost of 1 BI report: $1,840 if done by 2 FTEs or $2,520if done by 1 FTE (end user) and 1 outside contractor (developer). Sounds inexpensive? Wait.

 

Scenario 2. Top down. BI software and services:

Assumptions:

  • Average BI software deal per department (as per the latest BI Wave numbers) - $150,000
  • 50% of the software cost is attributable to canned reports, the rest is allocated to ad-hoc queries, and other forms of ad-hoc analysis and exploration.
  • Average cost of effort and services - $5 per every $1 spent on software (anecdotal evidence)
  • Average number of reports per small department - 100 (anecdotal evidence)
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Forrester BI Maturity Survey Results Are In

Boris Evelson

Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

Our latest BI maturity survey results are in. We used exactly the same questions from our online BI maturity self assessment tool to survey over 200 Forrester clients. Now you can compare your own BI maturity level against your peers by using data from the survey.

In the self assessment tool and in the survey we ask over 30 questions in the following 6 categories

  • Governance
  • Organization
  • Processes
  • Data and technology
  • Measurement
  • Innovation

Our clients rated themselves on the scale of 1 to 5 (5, if they strongly agree with our statement or 1, if they strongly disagree). Here are the overall results. Keep in mind that these results do not evaluate BI maturity accross ALL business, but rather in businesses that are already pretty far ahead in their BI implementations (they are Forrester clients, they read our research reports, they talk to our research analysts):

  • Governance 3.00
  • Organization 2.74
  • Processes 2.47
  • Data and technology 2.73
  • Measurement 2.11
  • Innovation 2.00
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Not All Mobile BI Applications Are Created Equal

Boris Evelson

Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

I get many questions about the usage, pervasiveness, and adaption of mobile BI applications. What's a mobile BI application? Beyond a simple delivery of alerts, URLs, or actual reports via email - functionality that has existed for years - here are a few newer approaches to deliver BI on a mobile device:

  1. The no brainer. In theory any mobile device equipped with a browser can access web based, thin client, HTML only BI applications. Yes, these BI apps will be mostly static, not interactive reports and dashboards. Navigation (scrolling, zooming, etc) will be quite awkward. But, this approach indeed requires no additional effort to deploy.
  2. Customization. The next step up is to render each (or all) reports and dashboards to a format suitable to any mobile device in terms of screen size, usage of screen real estate, and mobile device specific navigation instrumentation. A variation of this approach is to create device specific navigation controls (thumb wheel or thumb button for Blackberries, up/down/left/right arrows for Palms, gestural manipulation for iPhone, etc). This obviously requires more development effort, but still no additional software.
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What Makes BI SaaS Architecture Multitenant?

Boris Evelson

Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

I'd like to drill into some more details on my BI SaaS blog from September 2009. A key critical point to "what differentiates one BI SaaS vendor from another" discussion is what really constitutes multi-tenant architecture. Here are some initiall thoughts to stimulate the discussion:

  • DBMS. There's got to be back end, DBMS architecture that allows for one of the following:
    • Automatically generate a separate DBMS instance for each client  
    • Use same DBMS instance for multiple clients, but automatically generate a set of unique tables for each client  
    • Use same DBMS instance and tables for multiple clients, but automatically assign unique keys to to each client so that they can only update and retrieve their own rows  
  • Application. Similar functionality has to exist in the application tier:
    • Automatically connect to the appropriate, client specific DBMS instance, or 
    • Automatically use views that only point to client specific tables, or
    • Append "where" clause to each SQL statement to only retrieve client specific rows  
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How To Differentiate Advanced Data Visualisation Solutions

Boris Evelson

Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

I get many inquiries from clients on how to select a data visualization vendor / solution. The criteria that my clients often site are

  • Thick and thin client
  • Dynamic visualizations, not just static charts 
  • Ability to pull data from multiple sources
  • OLAP-like functionality
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Next Gen BI Is Here Today