Aug 30, 2006

Simple Things that Make a Day

My children really make my day sometimes. They do so much to brighten my day and make me feel very very happy. Last night as I was getting Nathan ready for bed he made my day. I was attempting to rock him to sleep. It was approaching 11:00 PM and I was really really tired. I was very anxious for him to sleep, but he just wouldn't cooperate. He just wanted to play. Finally I got him calmed down and as I rocked him, he was focusing on something on the wall behind me. I kept telling him, jokingly, "Nathan! Go to sleep!" Over and over again I would tell him. Well, being just over 3 months old, he obviously wasn't listening - or understanding. But you would never had guessed it by what he did next. Just as his eyes were starting to get heavy, he would look over at me and smile. It wasn't one of those casual smiles either, it was one of those "I'm playing with you dad" smiles. He would start to close his eyes and just as he would do so, he would smile and then open them really quickly. It was very funny and it only took about 3 rounds of this to have me laughing extatically. He eventually did fall asleep, but before doing so, he made my day!

Today I was really struggling at work to stay focused. I was feeling tired and a little overwhelmed by my current project. I called home to talk to Sara about some things related to our new house and Abbie wanted to talk to me. She was very anxious so Sara put her on the phone. She was quiet at first, then I said "Hi Abbie". Her response was "Hi daddy! It's me, Abbie...." and off she went. I didn't understand much of anything else she said but Sara told me later that she was just telling me about her day. Hearing her call me daddy made me chuckle and even laugh right out loud. Abbie has always been such a sweetheart. She always seems to know exactly what to say or do to liven your day. Today, hearing, "Hi daddy! It's me. Abbie" made my day.

Make it a Success!

I've been trying to do some more reading lately on what's been going on in the BI Industry. I lost touch while I was in school finishing my Associates Degree in Business Management. Now that school is out of the way (for a little while anyway) I can begin catching up. One of my favorite magazines (Intelligent Enterprise) had a fantastic article entitled "7 Pillars for BI Success". When I finished the article I realized that we have already adopted many of these pillars into our BI strategy at Sento. We have seen success on many accounts and continue to do so as we enlarge our BI System.

Recently, Nortel Networks visited Sento and looked at what we are doing with the data that we get out of their Symposium (PBX) system. I can't speak for them, but I will say they were impressed. The system is very impressive. We have been able to take a very complex and confusing set of data and present it to the business in a way that allows them to get the information they need, when they want it. It also allows our users to build ad-hoc reports on the fly. Since the release of the system, requests for reports based on the Symposium system have decreased dramatically.

I mention this to point out that a projects success should be emphasized and reemphasized to the business. When propriety allows, I believe companies should seek industry recognition for the quality work they do. Many times in the aforementioned article it pointed out the 1-800 Contacts and Allstate had won awards for the work they had done for their business. This not only makes the company look good, but it instills in executives confidence for future projects. So make your project a real success by spreading the word. Let people know how great your work is! Your project is only a success if people view it as thus. Showing off your work is only wrong if you do it at the expense of others.

Aug 28, 2006

BI Megatrends

I just finished reading an article in Intelligent Enterprise about the latest trends in Business Intelligence. This was a very insightful article with some great points on how the BI industry will be focusing on over the next year. Neil Raden from Hired Brains touched on many of my own ideas for BI and data warehousing. Without laying the elephant on the table, he outlined that BI and DW vendors need to do more to incorporate new technology and to offer their solutions to more companies than those willing to fork out the big bucks. Here are a couple of comments that I found to be relevant to that topic specifically:

"Typically, BI has been a disconnected activity, with users unable to traverse the big gap between being informed and being able to do anything about it. Currently, stacks of BI functionality, such as reporting, ad hoc analysis and OLAP (online analytical processing), serve only a small fraction of the user community (as measured by licenses)--10 percent to 20 percent, according to most studies, though actual use is probably even lower. Although the tools generally require no programming and the basics can be taught in a couple of days, conceptually BI still demands a level of understanding about the data, data models and data manipulation processes beyond most knowledge worker's skills or patience. Consequently, the level of IT involvement in BI is still high, leading to reduced ROI and an overall lack of agility and timeliness, except for those few power users who invest the time and effort to develop proficiency."

"Three external factors will drive BI out of its comfort zone and into new modes of usefulness. The open-source movement is one of them. However, it remains to be seen whether open source's impact will be simply to drive down software costs or to start something bigger. Can the open-source community marshall its participants' creative resources to develop truly breakthrough products? Everyone knows about Linux, but BI software doesn't have a similarly vast number of interested parties behind it. On the other hand, the pressure might be a good influence on BI vendors, who might otherwise feel they can get away with mediocre software at exorbitant prices."

"The time has come to radically rethink BI's basic methodologies. Caching, virtual data warehousing, query federation, autonomous agents, real-time and direct access to operational data stores are all more feasible now and must be built into the new BI. Doing so will help companies alleviate the delays and rigidity that confound current approaches."

"Monolithic BI suites with expensive per-seat licenses will lose favor--as will BI and data warehousing "stacks" cobbled together from different generations of technology. Market advantage will go to newer, less comprehensive entrants. Even older applications that provide specific functionality, such as visualization, Monte Carlo simulation or other stochastic processes and industry-specific analytics will get a leg up."