Sunday, December 19, 2010

Personal Business Intelligence

One definite benefit to working for a business intelligence company is having access to some of the coolest technology out there. I am one very busy person...sure working for the standard in Commercial Open Source Business Intelligence vendor Pentaho keeps me extremely busy with so many companies making the switch, I am also a single Dad raising 5 kids. As you can imagine, raising 5 kids requires a lot of management, one key area is where it gets rather expensive and I need to keep a good eye on is medical expenses...especially since they are tax deductible.

So what do my kids medical expenses have to do with Pentaho? Simple...with Pentaho, I can easily upload my data and use AgileBI to quickly analyze, gain insight, and take action on the information. Here is a screen shot of my kids medical dashboard:

As you can see here...Emily is my most accident prone kid, she represents the only child that has had the pleasure of visiting the emergency room. Additionally, I may need to make sure she is spending adequate time brushing her teeth as I see she represents a large portion of the dental expense. It also seems that I tend to spend a significant more on medical expenses during the school year...I guess when the kids are not at school, they tend to pick up less germs from the other students.

So in the end, this is not rocket science, but I guess that is my point...Pentaho has made is so easy to connect to data I already keep track of for my family and turn that data into information and help me see trends in my medical spending.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Radical Innovation

Still working on my recording, unfortunately Camtasia is not as easy to work with as Pentaho...speaking of Pentaho, I recently read an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review, "Wall Street Is No Friend to Radical Innovation" by Julia Kirby. In it she talkes about a study by Mary Benner of the Wharton School that was publish in Organization Science that examined the way that security analysts research and report on incumbent firms in industries undergoing disruptive change (take for example BI). "She finds that analysts tend to speak glowingly about innovations from major players that extend old technology, while downplaying the initiatives those firms have under way to capitalize on the next wave of technology"

To this I say, hmmm, and look at the latest press releases of Pentaho and say to Wall Street...don't miss out, here are only two of many examples:


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Right Tool For The Job - Part 2

In continuation of my previous post...I already had a tool to perform the duties I needed to changes the brakes but having just the right tool made all the difference in the time it took to successfully complete the task at hand. Took less time...and time is money!

The same holds true in BI. In the July/Aug 2010 issue of Information Management Magazine they had an articaled called Data Definition, How business and IT can speak the same language, Really. Notice how they added the word "Really" on the end of the title. This is because their is a LONG standing gap in the way IT understands data and the way that information consumers (business users) look at data. I don't know about you but nothing sounds more boring to me than defining data! I remember having vocabulary in most of my schooling where the teacher would assign a long list of words and your homework was to write out the definitions, not what I want to do on a Friday night. Looking back, that task was much easier than the daunting task for companies to define their data. The article referenced to above outlines what makes a clear or unclear data definition and one thing is certain, it takes BOTH IT and BUSINESS USERS to define data and is often a recursive task.

The article recommends the following strategy for defining your data:

  1. Provide examples of unclear versus clear definitions
  2. Understand what the business user wants to do with the data
  3. Bring all stakeholders together to review the definition
While step one is relatively easy to accomplish, Steps 2 and 3 are very difficult. The main reason is the way that IT and Business have to communicate together. This is where the right tool for the job comes in to play. You can either call it Pentaho Agile BI or simply mana from heaven. Either way you slice it, Pentaho Agile BI gives you the ability to complete items 2 and 3 above more quickly then anything else out there. Agile BI is the LINK that empowers IT and Business Users to "Speak the same language...Really!" In the coming week, I will be making a video demonstration on exactly what this looks like...make sure to check back to see!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Right Tool For the Job!

Some people would call me mechanically inclined and while others may call me mechanically challenged...either way...I tend to work on my vehicle probably more than the average person. One common maintenance activity that I do perform myself is changing the brakes on my vehicle. This is a fairly simple job in terms of concept but can be tedious due to the difficulty of getting to and working with the specific areas on the vehicle. For years I worked on these projects and it would typically take me about two hours to complete until one day, I was at an auto parts store and saw a special tool that was made specifically for part of the job of changing the brakes. It was like a gift from heaven, with this new tool, I was able to change the brakes in about 45 minutes with a lot less sweat and head ache.

So what does changing brakes have to do with BI? Nothing at all! However, the connection has to do with how using the right tool can help save you a lot of time and head ache in implementing and maintaining your BI environment. You may be successful right now but as some people say, "you don't know what you don't know" and you may have the opportunity to be even more successful. In the next few blog posts, I am going to talk about how Pentaho can help you just like me finding the right tool to help me change my brakes.