Raab Does On-Demand Business Intelligence Make Sense?


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David Raab reviews challenges faced by business intelligence projects and how on-demand systems can overcome them. Also considers advantages and disadvantages of on-demand in general. Provides a framework for understanding different approaches to cloud-based BI and when each is most appropriate.

Published in: Technology, Business
  • a very clear and interesting presentation! Thank you for sharing it!
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  • Interesting presentation. On slide 10, you say that process integration challenges can be met with APIs, vendor lock in challenges can be met with negotiation of terms, and inadequate tools challenges can be met by picking the right vendor. While I agree with these, I would say the following: dealing with proprietary APIs requires custom development, negotiation of terms is never one-way and obviously there is a risk and a legal review cost, and picking the right vendor is incredibly risky because it's often based on who gives the best demo rather than which product is best suited (just the nature of the beast).

    We develop a platform called Consensus that is specifically designed to hit on these challenges and enable self-service / on-demand BI. Modeling is done in business terms, not technical terms, and is stored in an open XML format. Once the model is complete, you can deploy to any major BI platform, so there is no lock-in (you can even deploy the same model to multiple platforms). The data model is generated by Consensus and is in a predictable structure based on best practices. The data model is created, the model is populated with sample data, the semantic layer is created, and the BI platform project (BO universe, Oracle BI repository, MicroStrategy project, Cognose Framework Mgr project, MSAS visual studio project, etc.) is also created. This is a working prototype that can be used to verify the correctness of the model with end users, but it also allows ETL and visualization development to happen in parallel, since the data model and BI project serves as a contract between them, and has already been generated automatically.

    If the model doesn't meet user needs, then go back to Consensus, change the model, and re-generate. It really does create a agile development process, and more importantly it keeps business users engaged and encourages the creation of rich business metadata... a step that is often omitted due to project time constraints (which in my opinion is why self-service / on-demand BI doesn't really work with most current BI implementations).

    I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on our approach and whether you think it helps enable self-service or on-demand BI. Any interest in hearing more, preferably not a stream-of-consciousness rambling comment on slideshare? :)
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  • BaaS - Business Intelligence As A Service - I invite your comments on this. Please share your thoughts with the readers of the Business Intelligence Blog: http://blog.maia-intelligence.com/2009/04/09/business-intelligence-as-a-service-baas/#comment-2939
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  • Intro - who am I - today’s topic: does on-demand bi make sense. - sponsored by on-demand bi vendor, so not much suspense about the answer. but it’s a reasonable question and important to understand why the answer is yes - start with some definitions: on-demand and business intelligence
  • Raab Does On-Demand Business Intelligence Make Sense?

    1. 1. Does On-Demand Business Intelligence Make Sense? April 2, 2009 David M. Raab Raab Associates Inc. www.raabssociatesinc.com
    2. 2. On-Demand Computing <ul><li>Definition of On-Demand </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Remote resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-provisioned </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User-operated </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Comparison </li></ul>In-house On-Demand Outsource local resources remote resources remote resources IT-provisioned self-provisioned vendor-provisioned user-operated user-operated vendor-operated
    3. 3. Advantages of On-Demand <ul><ul><li>Low cost / no fixed investment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to expand (or reduce) capacity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to use / no tech skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quick deployment / easy to change </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Business Intelligence <ul><li>“ Information used for decisions” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Standard reports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dashboards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ad hoc exploration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operational / predictive / distributed BI </li></ul></ul><ul><li>BI Components </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Data warehouse (source, integrate, structure) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Presentation (BI system) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… most of the work is in the warehouse </li></ul></ul>An executive dashboard . A traditional BI architecture diagram.
    5. 5. Does On-Demand BI Make Sense? <ul><li>On-demand is good. </li></ul><ul><li>Business Intelligence is good. </li></ul><ul><li>… so, they must be good together, right? </li></ul><ul><li>(Remember peanut butter and chocolate.) </li></ul><ul><li>(But what about broccoli and ice cream?) </li></ul>
    6. 6. Business Intelligence Challenges <ul><li>Need tech skills to set up </li></ul><ul><li>Requires IT support </li></ul><ul><li>Costly to deploy </li></ul><ul><li>Time-consuming to implement </li></ul><ul><li>May be short-term or one-time project </li></ul><ul><li>May require large computing resources </li></ul>
    7. 7. BI Challenges vs. On-Demand Advantages BI Challenges On-Demand Advantages Need tech skills to set up <ul><li>Easy to use / no tech skills </li></ul>Requires IT support <ul><li>Easy to use / no tech skills </li></ul>Costly to deploy <ul><li>Low cost / </li></ul><ul><li>no fixed investment </li></ul>Time-consuming to implement <ul><li>Quick deployment / </li></ul><ul><li>easy to change </li></ul>May be short-term or one-time project <ul><li>Easy to expand </li></ul><ul><li>(or reduce) capacity </li></ul>May require large computing resources <ul><li>Easy to expand </li></ul><ul><li>(or reduce) capacity </li></ul>
    8. 8. Does On-Demand BI Make Sense? <ul><li>On-demand is good. </li></ul><ul><li>Business Intelligence is good. </li></ul><ul><li>On-demand strengths match BI challenges. </li></ul><ul><li>…but what about objections to on-demand? </li></ul>
    9. 9. Objections to On-Demand <ul><li>Security </li></ul><ul><li>Process integration </li></ul><ul><li>Reliability </li></ul><ul><li>Vendor lock-in </li></ul><ul><li>Inadequate tools </li></ul>
    10. 10. Responses to On-Demand Objections <ul><li>Security:  often better than in-house </li></ul><ul><li>Process integration:  APIs more available </li></ul><ul><li>Reliability:  most BI projects are not mission critical </li></ul><ul><li>Vendor lock-in:  negotiable </li></ul><ul><li>Inadequate tools:  pick the right vendor </li></ul>
    11. 11. Does On-Demand BI Make Sense? <ul><li>On-demand is good. </li></ul><ul><li>Business Intelligence is good. </li></ul><ul><li>On-demand strengths match BI challenges. </li></ul><ul><li>Objections to on-demand can be met. </li></ul><ul><li>… but the real issue with BI is complexity. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Complexity in BI <ul><li>Complex data preparation </li></ul><ul><li>Complex data models </li></ul><ul><li>Complex requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Complex analytics </li></ul>
    13. 13. Does On-Demand BI Make Sense? <ul><li>On-demand is good. </li></ul><ul><li>Business Intelligence is good. </li></ul><ul><li>On-demand strengths match BI challenges. </li></ul><ul><li>Objections to on-demand can be met. </li></ul><ul><li>Can it reduce complexity? </li></ul>
    14. 14. Strategies to Reduce Complexity <ul><li>1. Make standard technology more efficient </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Simplify the tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Automate the tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do fewer tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2. Use non-standard technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Columnar and in-memory databases </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Strategies vs. Types of Complexity Data Preparation Data Models Requirements Analytics Simplify x x x Automate x x x x Do less x x x Database x x
    16. 16. Does On-Demand BI Make Sense? <ul><li>On-demand is good. </li></ul><ul><li>Business Intelligence is good. </li></ul><ul><li>On-demand strengths match BI challenges. </li></ul><ul><li>Objections to on-demand can be met. </li></ul><ul><li>It can reduce complexity. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Is there any problem on-demand BI can’t solve?
    18. 18. Problems On-Demand BI Can’t Solve <ul><li>Data isn’t available </li></ul><ul><li>Too costly to move data </li></ul><ul><li>Project has no clear objective </li></ul><ul><li>… do these in-house or outsource . </li></ul>
    19. 19. When Does On-Demand BI Make Sense? * depends on tool In-house On-Demand Outsource General on-demand advantages <ul><ul><li>In-house tech skills lacking </li></ul></ul>x x <ul><ul><li>In-house tech staff unavailable </li></ul></ul>x x <ul><ul><li>In-house cost too high </li></ul></ul>x x <ul><ul><li>In-house time too long </li></ul></ul>x x <ul><ul><li>Short term / one-time project </li></ul></ul>x $ <ul><ul><li>Large hardware requirements </li></ul></ul>x x General on-demand issues <ul><ul><li>Security risk </li></ul></ul>x x x <ul><ul><li>Process integration </li></ul></ul>x x* x <ul><ul><li>Reliability </li></ul></ul>x x* x <ul><ul><li>Vendor lock-in </li></ul></ul>x x x <ul><ul><li>Inadequate tools </li></ul></ul>x x* x
    20. 20. When Does On-Demand BI Make Sense? In-house On-Demand Outsource On-Demand BI issues <ul><ul><li>Complex data preparation </li></ul></ul>x x* x <ul><ul><li>Complex data models </li></ul></ul>x* x <ul><ul><li>Complex requirements </li></ul></ul>x* x <ul><ul><li>Complex analytics </li></ul></ul>x* x *depends on tool Issues on-demand BI can’t solve <ul><ul><li>Data not available </li></ul></ul>x ? x <ul><ul><li>Too costly to move data </li></ul></ul>x x <ul><ul><li>Project lacks clear objective </li></ul></ul>? ? ?
    21. 21. Picking the Right Vendor <ul><li>Technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provisioning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Functionality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scalability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complexity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>API / integration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maturity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Terms of service </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Data access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Service levels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intellectual property </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Professional services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data integration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analytics </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pricing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Upfront and ongoing cost </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Impact of volume </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contract period </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Financial stability </li></ul>
    22. 22. Final Thoughts <ul><li>On-demand BI offers substantial benefits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost, time to market, flexibility </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Vendors differ substantially </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost, time to market, flexibility </li></ul></ul><ul><li>It can’t solve all your problems </li></ul><ul><li>Choose projects and vendors carefully for success </li></ul>
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