This is our blog about designing and implementing Intelligent organizations. Within this area of expertise we write often about the following subjects BI, analytics, the tools, decision management, data visualization, BI success, Business Intelligence concepts, data management, continuous improvement, and the organization of BI & Analytics.
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Business Intelligence only works well when we regularly retrieve data from the source systems and copy it to a separate computer and database. This means that the data from the source system are stored redundantly: in the source system and in the data warehouse.
A traditionally minded IT specialist will find this unacceptable: data should – within the company network – never be stored more than once so that when we change data we will not need to do this at several places. The fact that this principle benefits the maintainability of data is beyond dispute. Especially when we need to analyze large volumes of (unstructured) data: Big Data.
The architecture of a Business Intelligence system is guided by a good number of basic principles that specifically apply to Business Intelligence systems. A basic umbrella principle here is the well-known phenomenon of ‘structure follows function’: the indicators that are derived from either the business processes or the strategy as well as additional management information largely determine the architectural structure of the Business Intelligence system. In other words: the content of the system determines its architecture and structure.
On the website of Actuate we found a press release that stated that “Actuate is delivering more insights to more people than all Business Intelligence companies combined”. The company was removed from our 100% vendor independent Business Intelligence Tools survey in December 2011 because no single Actuate official responded to our requests any more.
In a recent survey from one of the Analyst companies the Actuate platform was awarded a high final score. The press release said: “Actuate outranked most major Business Intelligence vendors in final score, exceeding peer and overall scores for most measures”. And they received recognition for the fact that they beat all other major vendors on Big Data Analytics.
The Intelligent Organization observes well. It transforms incoming signals into information and knowledge and responds adequately. This is only possible when the different processes within the Business Intelligence cycle are supported by a good architecture.
The architecture ensures that the processes run smoothly and that they are properly aligned. The Business Intelligence architecture forms the link between the processes we described earlier and the applications and Business Intelligence tools. Without a well thought out architecture, we cannot properly organize the processes of the Intelligent Organization and consequently, we cannot apply information and knowledge in the way we should.
The last months the Passionned Group has given several training sessions in New York, Amsterdam and Singapore about Business Intelligence & Analytics. We like to share a few of the testimonials regarding our Business Intelligence training with you. Most of them are very positive and we are truly thankful for that.
“Enjoyed the interactiveness of the master class, good level for my understanding, we are just getting started”
International supermarket operator Ahold has a very professionally organized Business Intelligence system with an infrastructure that averagely handles seven million information requests from 90 different information sources annually.
Business Intelligence is used throughout the company at all management levels and by almost all humon ‘processors’. A good example: store managers check their state of affairs every single morning. Ahold’s differentiation strategy also leans heavily on Business Intelligence.
In the Business Intelligence market various industry specific systems – so called analytical applications- are available. These systems help organizations to complete a first draft of information needs relatively quickly and then, possibly, to produce a first version of a Business Intelligence system.
The market-driven approach consists of two steps:
Market research and tool selection: analytical applications that are available in the market are being reviewed based on a number of (technical) selection criteria. The main criterion regarding the mapping of information needs is to see whether both the application and its indicators sufficiently match the organization’s business operations and critical processes.
An Intelligent organization should keep its eyes open and prick up its ears for data and information. The information it receives should be interpreted, internalized and revised to eventually be distributed across as many processors (people, systems) as possible. However, Business Intelligence does not stop with the distribution of knowledge that encourages actions.
Business Intelligence goes beyond that: ultimately, the information must contribute to a range of aspects such as a higher profitability, better products or faster processing times, all depending on the goals and ambitions. What can or must organizations do in order to actually reap the fruits of their investments in Business Intelligence?
For an organization to become as smart and agile as possible, the process of transforming data into information and knowledge should take as little time as possible and should run with minimal interruptions and errors. An Intelligent Organization will therefore also have to take into account a number of generic requirements that we impose on both consuming information and the Business Intelligence tools.
A large national healthcare group of 16.000 employees provides care services in the psychiatry and welfare sector and helps people with (mental) disabilities. Today, the healthcare industry is changing significantly: there is a growing input from the market and both government and customers increasingly enforce transparency regarding performance.
The health care group consists of ten care facilities, all of which have a considerable degree of autonomy, however more and more care processes now need to be standardized. A few years ago the group felt compelled to implement Business Intelligence-software to greatly improve sensitivity on both strategic and operational level.
This steel supplier already possessed a Business Intelligence system containing internal information about various key business operations. However, some years ago the management decided to building a market intelligence system as an extension to the existing system.
The main reasons for this were increasing competition and ever evolving technological developments. The new system continuously scans the internet for news that is of relevance for the company, such as items about a vendor acquiring another vendor, or items about steel from China that is being introduced to the European market at favorable prices.
Pentaho, one of the open source Business Intelligence vendors, has released a new version (4.8) of its product suite. The company says to have implemented better support for Big Data and to have added ad hoc analysis to their mobile Business Intelligence solution.
As a 100% vendor independent research and consulting company, we have been examining these new product features thoroughly. We have adjusted the scores for Pentaho BI in our BI tools comparison matrix to reflect the new features. Our survey compares all the major Business Intelligence tools on 169 product features across 12 major categories.
A global mobile telecommunications company with 87 million customers worldwide, offers mobile communication products and services, in both the private and the business market, on their own network. Their Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) program focuses on customer acceptance, financial operations and on delivering high quality service.
The company faces a number of real problems that affect the core of their customer processes. The company lacks insight into the relation between credit checks conducted at customer acceptance and subsequent payment behavior. Also lacking is insight into the quality of new customers brought in through (retail) distribution channels. Additionally, the information supply on renewal of contracts leaves a lot to be desired.
Only those with the greatest capacity to adapt will survive. Darwin’s famous biological principle ‘survival of the fittest’ examines the passive capacity of living creatures to adapt to their environment. Those who least adapt are the first to be ousted or eaten. This way, individuals that do survive are enabled to reproduce and pass on their genes – and their apparent qualities – to their offspring – with a greater chance for survival as a result. However, minor random mutations in the genes may change this effect. It could be enhanced but also be reduced or even be destroyed.
Most organizations tend to look at only one of the many facets of Business Analytics. Often the focus is on the technical side, or simple reporting, or possibly the internal organization, which is a pity, because Business Intelligence can add significant value in many areas: alignment with and influence on the external environment – things that are going on outside the organization, optimisation of internal processes, productivity improvements of both the people and the machines and last but not least more effective use of the technology and the mountain of data within our walls. The business case for Business Intelligence is both broad and varied.
As a result of the pressure in the current work climate the amount of time that managers and staff have to take the right decisions is decreasing rapidly, although the complexity of the decisions is increasing. This is complicated further by the fact that the amount of data needed to take good decisions is increasing exponentially*, the so-called Big Data. These two factors, time to decide and the volume of data, are diametrically opposed. As illustrated below the Business Intelligence gap will only increase unless organizations taken steps to tackle the problem.
Very large, unstructured, volatile data sets lead to complicated and sometimes messy information. This is why according to worldwide research 85 percent of Fortune 500 businesses will not be able to use Big Data effectively (until 2015) to create a competitive advantage.
Collecting data and analyzing it is not enough, as data streams are expected to generate the right conclusions at the right time. The problem is that almost 80 percent of the data is unstructured and polluted with useless data. However, some businesses have pioneered the use of Big Data and have thereby profited from it.
Business Intelligence is not only about developing a better understanding of the organization; it has wider ambitions: improvement and innovation.
Level 1 – understanding: provide insight into what is actually happening in an organization, for example by monitoring the customer response times and the number of complaints received. This gives a better view of how an organization is running and shows how various internal processes are intertwined.
A recent study by one of the analysts firms tells us that “in 2011 the world will create a staggering 1.8 zettabytes” and “by 2020 the world will generate 50 times the amount of information [now]”.
In this article we explore the three biggest challenges of using big data and what to do about it: intelligent filtering, outstanding performance and good data visualization. The main question here is if the business intelligence software we are using today is capable of tackling these challenges.
As a leading consultancy firm specialising in Business Intelligence we have been asked to look at the major trends we expect to see in the Business Intelligence market both for 2013 and the coming years. These trends are the result of extensive vendor research and discussions with our customers regarding their priorities for Business Intelligence and what makes it a success.
In the past the major focus of the Business Intelligence vendors has mainly been on developing new functionality for developing reports, dashboards, data visualisation and the distribution of these reports and dashboards. New functionality has been added continually in these areas, under the assumption that these “features” were necessary to beat the competition and win new customers. However a few innovative vendors have been looking at Business Intelligence as a process, and have figured out that this process is more complicated than distributing the right information to the right people in the right format.
QlikTech, the developer of the Business Intelligence software QlikView BI, has released version 11.2. In this version there are still thirty known issues at release time. QlikTech expect to solve them in the coming versions. More than two hundred bugs were solved in Service Release 2.
In the release notes of QlikView 11.2 the company also provides a list of product features. These are limitations of the product and are not likely to change in next product releases. One limitation is that ‘undo’ functionality does not work on notes and comments. When a note or comment is deleted, it is removed permanently. Most of the other limitations have to do with AJAX, Java, (mobile) browsers versions, charts and colors.
Performance management systems are becoming increasingly popular in organizations. Performance management used to be synonymous with financial management. It was quite an ordeal to get your hands on non-financial management information. These days, it’s the other way around. When managing their organizations, managers are increasingly dealing with information overload.
New information systems can fill management dashboards, such as the balanced scorecard, with hundreds of KPIs without breaking a sweat. Technically, the amount of indicators is virtually limitless. The same can be said for the amount of aggregation levels and the information refresh rate. As a result, the possibilities of drilling down, zooming in, and updating are greater than ever before. It brings to mind the comparison to an F-16 that can do more than its pilot.
It’s not news that all big organizations are changing quickly at the moment. Trends like layoff rounds, different visions and goals, changing markets, and so on, are daily occurrences. Change is the most stable factor at the moment. Innovation, speed, flexibility, and taking advantage of the changing market are crucial factors.
There’s a demand for a faster time to market, other products and services that are a better fit for this moment. But having to react quickly to new developments like social media, online sales, and the explosive growth of data has a downside: how can the organization keep everything under control, and how do you know if everything is going well?
There’s been a lot of discussion about BI in difficult times; to what extent is it rewarding to invest in BI, and why do so many projects appear to be unsuccessful? When we talk about Business Intelligence, especially for big companies, we talk about processing data (from databases and applications) into actionable information.
This is the traditional Business Intelligence that companies like Cognos and Business Objects have been working on for years, and that Gartner publishes an annual BI Quadrant about. One of the problems with this type of solution is that a lot of the data needed to get the proper management information isn’t contained in a clearly-defined Oracle database with a metadata layer on top of it. It’s also not in SAP/R3 with structure and security that we, with some difficulty, can reach. No, it’s in web pages, PDF files, Powerpoint presentations, emails, and Word documents, where there are very few standard definitions, and even fewer access rules.
In a recent poll among the visitors to this website, it has become clear that mobile Business Intelligence (BI) is no longer just a hype. More than 75% of those who voted, expressed that they believe that Business Intelligence will become completely mobile in the near future.
This is hardly a strange outcome since the business case for mobile Business Intelligence is very strong. In addition, managers love gadgets like smartphones and tablets. The future of Business Intelligence is mobile. We asked visitors: “Business intelligence will become completely mobile in the near future”.
Jaspersoft, maker of the world’s most widely used Business Intelligence software, today announced availability of Jaspersoft Business Intelligence 4.7. Reports generated by JasperReports Server now give even casual users the ability to interact with more of their data. Jaspersoft’s open source business model and zero-cost per-user licensing fees make interactive reporting affordable for even the largest scale reporting projects. Further improvements in Jaspersoft 4.7 include direct native connectivity to Big Data sources and expanded mobile device support.
The importance of business analytics (BA) was revealed in a recent Bloomberg survey, which found that BA has been effective in decision making for three out of four enterprises. Among the improvements are increased profitability, reduced cost, faster decision making, and critical performance improvements.
BA refers to technologies, applications, skills, and practices for the investigation of past business performance to improve insight into this past performance. BA is much more than merely providing simple data to a business. By using BA tools, meaning can be found in data, which results in a business improving its business intelligence. Some examples of Business Analytics include statistical analysis, decision processes, web analytics etc.
Passionned Group offers a three day Business Intelligence Training workshop aimed at anyone interested in becoming more effective with business intelligence and bringing them up to speed with the latest business intelligence insights and novel techniques.
Some of these insights include KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), data visualization, big data, mobile BI and much much more. The goal of the training for the trainee is to master these insights and techniques, allowing them to confidently apply this new knowledge to their field of expertise. The Business Intelligence training program will give you an overview of the three training days.
Microsoft Corp. today announced that the latest version of the world’s most widely deployed data platform, Microsoft SQL Server 2012, has released to manufacturing. SQL Server 2012 helps address the challenges of increasing data volumes by rapidly turning data into actionable business insights. Expanding on Microsoft’s commitment to help customers manage any data, regardless of size, both on-premises and in the cloud, the company today also disclosed additional details regarding its plans to release an Apache Hadoop-based service for Windows Azure.
Oracle today announced the availability of Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine, the industry’s first high-speed engineered system featuring in-memory business intelligence (BI) software and hardware to deliver extreme performance for analytic and performance management applications.
Oracle today also announced availability of a new release of Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite that features 87 new product capabilities and enhancements including new visualizations, contextual interactions, performance and scale improvements, optimizations for Oracle Exalytics, and simplification for end users, developers and administrators.
Pentaho, a leading worldwide provider of Business Intelligence software and data integration software, today reaffirmed its commitment to support Big Data with a major expansion of native Big Data sources, including the latest Hadoop distributions, NoSQL sources, as well as native support for many analytic databases and traditional OLTP databases. Pentaho’s native connection to Big Data platforms makes it easier and faster than ever to analyze the enormous data volumes generated by today’s organizations.
For the last 10 years the market has been dominated by the Business Intelligence tools IBM Cognos and SAP BusinessObjects, but Cognos with release 8 had been losing its position for the last two years. Now with the new release 10 Cognos has returned to its status as one of the leading products in the marketplace. SAS Enterprise BI Server and IBM Cognos score the most points in the 2012 BI Tools Survey.
Passionned Group’s brand-new report “Data as the key to excellent government performance” (Dutch) is all about how local government can benefit from using the ready-made Information and Performance Management Framework for Municipalities. It answers some important questions, framed by Professor Maes’ model of information management processes.
Performance management and policy maps: how do we organize performance management within the municipality from top to bottom?
Multiple research projects have shown that the methodology of a project manager is crucially important to the success of a project. Yet we’ve determined that project success rate hasn’t increased over the past years.
Research has also shown that every project is unique, and thus has its own unique properties. But the project staffing isn’t based on that. We also found that the project environment influences its success. The interesting question, then, is how do we match the right project manager to the right project and project environment, for example designing a Shared Service Center, releasing a new service, or implementing a new production process?
The process of choosing a suitable tool for Business Intelligence and performance management in your organization is often difficult and time-consuming. Tools are also expensive, and the tool you choose can’t just be exchanged for another one due to the high investment, both financially and from an organizational standpoint.
Independent research agency Passionned Group released the latest edition of the BI Tools Survey, to help you choose a suitable BI tool faster.