333 Rule To Keep Your BI Apps In Check

Boris Evelson

Over the last 25 years in the business I heard my share of BI horror stories: “we have over 20 different BI tools”, or “we have a few thousand reports in our BI application”. BI is very much a self fulfilling prophecy – “build it, and they will come”. As we popularize BI, and as technology becomes more scalable, more stable, more function rich and user-friendly  - BI spreads like wildfire and often becomes uncontrollable.

I can’t help but to quote from one of my favorite books by a British author Jerome K. Jerome “Three Men In A Boat, To Say Nothing Of A Dog”. One of the reasons I love the book, in addition to it being one of the funniest novels I ever read, is that I can almost always find a very relevant humorous quote to just about any life or business situation. At the beginning of the book three British gentlemen are planning a vacation on a river boat. As they plan for how much food and supplies they should carry, they quickly realize that there isn’t a boat big enough to fit the dimensions of the Thames river to carry all that junk.

“How they pile the poor little craft mast-high with fine clothes and big houses; with useless servants, and a host of swell friends that do not care twopence for them, and that they do not care three ha'pence for; with expensive entertainments that nobody enjoys, with formalities and fashions, with pretence and ostentation, and with - oh, heaviest, maddest lumber of all! - the dread of what will my neighbour think, with luxuries that only cloy, with pleasures that bore, with empty show that, like the criminal's iron crown of yore, makes to bleed and swoon the aching head that wears it!

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Appropriate Technology: The New Intel Classmate PC

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Yesterday I got a sneak peak at the new Intel Classmate PC, both the clamshell and convertible models. These new models are significant upgrades from the previous version. While I never really wanted my own mini-laptop, I now have Classmate envy.

Highlights that mattered to me included (drum roll please):

  • 10.1 inch screen to replace the tiny 8.9 inch screen – as a result the keyboard is bigger,  accommodating adolescent and even adult fingers. Honestly, the previous design was just too dang small. My fingers were all over each other.
  • Ruggedization (is that a word?) – now designed to withstand accidental drops from desk height, with a water resistant LCD, keyboard, touch pad, HDD shock protection using the accelerometer to detect falls, and a really nice rubberized surface making it easier to hold onto.
  • Retractable handle – while I’m on the topic of holding it… may I say that I really don’t understand why other PC vendors don’t put handles on their laptops. My Panasonic Toughbook has one and I love it.
  • eReader interface – while I’ve never used my Kindle (really, not once), I do think I’d take advantage of the eReader capability of the Classmate. The accelerometer flips the content to portrait and the touchscreen allows you to “flick to scroll.” You can also highlight and take notes directly on the page. The eReader feature was what Wired magazine picked up on in their Classmate product review.
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Analytics For Content And Process: Cinderella With Slipper Confusion

Craig Le Clair

Analytics gets a lot of attention these days. And it should. Additional business insight is really important to improve the customer experience and more and more to understand the on-line experience. And predictive analytics is really cool. But these exciting areas tell only part of the story. Analytics can also help improve content management and transactional business processes. The infrastructure and plumbing that keeps most companies afloat. Analytics can help consolidate archives, improve capture, classify documents, improve business processes, and enhance the value of packaged apps. In short, there is a strong analytics play just for better content management and process improvement but poorly deeloped use cases and better buzz in other areas tamps down the potential. But we shall hear more about this soon.

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Oracle Likes Cloud Computing After All

John R. Rymer

Larry Ellison angrily dismisses suggestions that Oracle’s business will be harmed by the rise of cloud computing. Many misinterpret Ellison’s remarks to mean he (and by extension Oracle) thinks cloud computing is a dumb idea that Oracle won’t pursue. We are now learning that Oracle does, in fact, intend to pursue cloud computing. But we're also learning that Oracle's strategy is more limited than those of IBM and Microsoft, its large-vendor competitors.

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Enterprise packaged apps integration

George Lawrie

Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, man is born free and is everywhere in chains. So too Enterprise app deployments are conceived as self contained yet everywhere are integrated with legacy and complementary apps.

My colleague Ken Vollmer and I are looking at packaged apps integration best practices and how these might change as some apps move to the cloud. We are asking:

What kind of middleware do you use?

How do you help process owners to assemble (composite) processes that have transactional integrity?

What do you do about the conflicting data models of apps from different stables – for example yours and those of a third party or perhaps in –house?

How far can so called “canonical” data models and meta data help to overcome such problems?

If you have experience and an opinion about what constitute the top three best practices in such packaged apps integration, or if you can warn about the three most egregious pitfalls to avoid we would love to talk with you.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you at glawrie@forrester.com

Next gen of metadata driven BI apps

Boris Evelson

We all struggle with complexity of designing, building and maintaining BI apps. Why? Among many other reasons, the simplest one is that there's just too many components involved. Just to name a few

  • Data sourcing
  • Data extraction
  • Data integration
  • Data cleansing
  • Data aggregation
  • Data modeling (star schemas, cubes)
  • Metrics management
  • Queries
  • Reports
  • Dashboards
  • Alerts
  • Delivery (portals, schedulers, emails, etc)

For years there were many attempts to automate some of these steps via metadata. So rather than than coding source to target SQL transformations or DDL for DW generation vendors came up with, what I know call "1st generation" metadata driven BI tools, such as

  • ETL tools where metadata auto-generated SQL scripts for data extraction, loading and transformation
  • BI tools where metadata auto-generated SQL for queries
  • Data modeling tools where metadata auto-generated logical data models and DDL for physical data models

But, the "2nd generation" metadata driven BI apps (note apps vs tools now) do much more. For example, they:

  • Use metadata to generate multi vendor apps (like BalancedInsight, Kalido and BIReady do), and having a single place where changes can be made
  • Use metadata to generate all three (ETL SQL, BI SQL, DW DDL, like Cognos, Wherescape, BIReady do), and having a single place where changes to all 3 can be made
  • Using metadata to generate report layouts (like Cognos does)
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SAP Changes Continue – 10 Predictions for 2010

Holger Kisker

After the recent board changes the strategy will change too

After the recent board changes at SAP the message we could read in most news was like ‘new board – old strategy’. Along with the board changes SAP did not announce (yet) any significant strategic changes. But what good is it to change the board and leave everything else as is?

The recent SAP board changes are just the visible tip of the iceberg of much deeper changes SAP will and has to go through to renew itself as a leading IT vendor. Below are 10 predictions for changes in SAP’s strategic direction I expect within the next 10+ months:

1.    More SAP Board Changes Will Come

Additional board changes will further strengthen the product & technology focus and competence within the SAP board. See also Forrester’s blog on the recent SAP board changes: SAP CEO Resigns – Long Live The Co-CEOs

2.    Business ByDesign Will Get Back Into SAP’s Strategic Center

Business ByDesign will become again the corner stone of SAP’s growth strategy and the successful introduction will mark a ‘make it or break it’ milestone for SAP.

3.    SAP Announces The Next-Generation ERP

SAP will announce a next-generation ERP solution to regain leadership in its core business area and it will likely be based on the ByDesign platform.

4.    SAP Changes Its Cloud Strategy

SAP will rework its whole On-Demand strategy and will unify and align all components based on the ByDesign platform. See also Forrester’s recent blog on SAP’s On-Demand strategy: SAP Is Skydiving Into The Clouds.

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Blogs and My Research Lifecycle

John R. Rymer

I’m soon getting a new tool for my work as an industry analyst: A Forrester blog. Before diving into my new blog, I think I should define its role in my work, and get your comments and suggestions.

My Forrester blog is a new part of my research lifecycle (depicted below). I’ve been pursuing some form of this research lifecycle for over 15 years.

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The New Era Of Social Innovation

Nigel Fenwick

If the seventies and eighties were dominated by technology-led innovation, with IT in the driving seat, the nineties and two thousands was surely the period of marketing-led innovation. With the emergence of social computing as such a big influence on business, spreading rapidly beyond the sole domain of marketing, it seems we are entering a new era - the era of Social Innovation.

In this era, innovation will be driven by empowered customers and employees and IT and Marketing will need to join forces and collaborate as never before. The CIO and the CMO, IT and Marketing, will jointly power this new era of Social Innovation by bringing together their extensive domain expertise to create a Social Innovation Network.

The way I see it, true Social Innovation goes beyond customer interaction and idea generation, it requires a powerful and coordinated network of players to take customer-generated innovation and to test, scale and implement it. IT has a key role to play in this Social Innovation Network as the broker, helping to connect the network players and components and to establish the management, strategy and technological backbone of the network.

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Succession Planning, What It Is and Why It's Important

Claire Schooley

In this podcast, Claire discusses the flow of activities that need to surround effective succession planning. She also talks about the key benefits of having a sound succession strategy. The podcast finishes with 5 key recommendations.

http://www.forrester.com/role_based/images/author/imported/forresterDotCom/Podcasts/BPA/Claire%20Schooley_Succession%20Planning_022410.mp3

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