Friday, September 29

Microsoft could cost you more

Good news for some; for the rest, it could take focus and money away from projects and improvements for performance measurement and BI systems.

The IDC study (paid by Microsoft) concluded that Microsoft's new Vista operating system (in the European Union) will require billions of dollars and more IT employees to focus on the upgrade. Some will argue the benefits of the new software outweigh the costs. Really?

Silicon Valley Sleuth shares their comments and here's the IDC study.

First some numbers. For every Euro that is spent on Windows Vista, companies on average will spend another 14 Euro on downstream economic activity (hardware, services and third party software applications). This is not going to be a simple upgrade of Windows. CIOs and IT budgets will feel the financial hit.

And that's a staggering proportion. If everytime a client came to me and asked for the latest and greatest and I told her "it will cost you 14 times the software costs to complete", I wouldn't have her as a client! But if I had a monopoly like Microsoft, then I guess she couldn't turn to anyone else.

Now the benefits. According to IDC, one of the positive impacts for the economy is the 50% increase in IT jobs needed for Vista-related work. More jobs are welcomed but realistically that will mean less IT people and budget focused on content and systems to support business people.

Some may argue that Vista benefits business people, but I haven't come across an executive yet that asked for the latest Windows patch.

For those who have some influence over IT spending, be informed (warned?) that business people may be the ones losing out with Microsoft's new Vista upgrade.

Wednesday, September 20

BI detects fraud

Some of us are willing to pay anything to have chiropractors fix our necks and backs. Then there are those who scam insurance companies with false claims of injury. I'm assuming this is a big business if you want to be on that side of the law. Fighting back are insurance companies using BI to track down fraudulent claims and unethical chiropractors.

This is what BI should be doing. Focusing on how to right a wrong. Learning how to help people in society. Protecting a business from economic downturns. Increasing market share of a business. What contribution is your information providing you, your organization, or society?

Tuesday, September 19

Executive reports on your Blackberry

When you need to check the performance (or under-performance) of a business unit, geographic region, or sales numbers for a department, it is difficult to do this on the road. Shawn writes that Cognos can now do this for your Blackberry.

Being less tied to your computer or laptop for information will keep you mobile (especially for those who spend a great deal of time traveling or going to meetings 8 hours a day). You want the "right" information pushed to you on a regular basis without involving a bunch of people or asking IT.

Information you want; when you need it.

The key will be giving executives information that works on the 3 inch Blackberry-type screens. The days of the "one-page-wonder" where all your information is on one report will be history. But replaced with simple, clear, concise, to-the-point, and actionable information.

People will become accustom to charts and data that relate to key performance information. When people are accountable and gauged on a small number of key performance measures, people tend to focus.

There is a downside to being too focused though. More about that later.

Where is your pipe dream

Lyndsay Wise writes how "business performance management (BPM) is the next generation of business intelligence". Not so sure this is true when Hyperion is already adding Google search to their BPM and BI toolsets.

The next wave for BI, which includes BPM, will probably focus on two objectives:

1) Simplify BI so non-tech people can actually use it. Google search is a start.

2) Once it is easier to use, BI will quickly be pushed out to more people within an organization.

BI and BPM can be a huge benefit to a business. At this point, only 20% of people gain this benefit.

Imagine your business using a pipe with two open ends. At one end, information enters the pipe. Invoices, customer support, case management... data goes in. The pipe makes the magic happen and information should come out the other end. (The pipe is a metaphor for BI technology, in case it wasn't clear.)

You want the information coming out to be at a good flow and the pipe at the correct width. I suspect most have the tap on too high. Or not enough flow. The point being that every organization has different needs. And people within a company also have different needs.

Do a quick check. Are your executives receiving the same flow of information as people on the front line? Different information and tools for different folks.

Friday, September 8

Getting started

Prospect: "We loved your pitch from yesterday for a BI solution and we want to start today."
Consultant: "Sorry but we don't have anyone available at this time. But we could start in 45 days."

Vendor: "If you liked our proposal, then we are ready to discuss moving forward today."
Client: "Your proposal is what we want and everyone here agrees with it. But we want to revisit the design."

Employee: "The client says they are ready to start so I'll need Bob to uncover details for a proposed plan."
Boss: "I don't think you need Bob yet. Wait until the project starts and we have a contract."
[the plan submitted was rejected due to inaccuracies.]

Sometimes getting started is the hardest thing to do even when all the writing is on the wall. Actual conversations (luckily not all mine) about the status quo and taking that next step.


There are 44,200,000 Google matches for "Information Management". "Business Intelligence" beats that with 55,600,000, while "Data Warehouse" is far behind with 12,600,000. "Performance Management" is in the middle with 21,600,000 matches.

Are you using these words to describe you or your company? You may not be so unique as you think you are, I'm guessing.

Compare that with Google matches for vendors. Business Objects at 9,100,000. Cognos at 4,630,000. Down to Microstrategy at 1,660,000 and Pentaho with 240,000.

Does more content suggest a better product? More matches suggest more installations? Being the loudest doesn't mean the best.