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Wayne Eckerson

Welcome to Wayne's World, my blog that illuminates the latest thinking about how to deliver insights from business data and celebrates out-of-the-box thinkers and doers in the business intelligence (BI), performance management and data warehousing (DW) fields. Tune in here if you want to keep abreast of the latest trends, techniques, and technologies in this dynamic industry.

About the author >

Wayne has been a thought leader in the business intelligence field since the early 1990s. He has conducted numerous research studies and is a noted speaker, blogger, and consultant. He is the author of two widely read books: Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business (2005, 2010) and The Secrets of Analytical Leaders: Insights from Information Insiders (2012).

Wayne is currently director of BI Leadership Research, an education and research service run by TechTarget that provides objective, vendor neutral content to business intelligence (BI) professionals worldwide. Wayne’s consulting company, BI Leader Consulting, provides strategic planning, architectural reviews, internal workshops, and long-term mentoring to both user and vendor organizations. For many years, Wayne served as director of education and research at The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) where he oversaw the company’s content and training programs and chaired its BI Executive Summit. He can be reached by email at weckerson@techtarget.com.

For many years, Logi Analytics carved out a profitable niche selling an easy-to-use report and dashboard development platform to information technology (IT) professionals. But its recent foray into analytics--with Logi Vision, a visual discovery tool that first shipped in January--targets business analysts.

Staying true to its commitment to ease of use, Logi Vision brings a fresh new perspective to analysis by making heavy use of heuristics. The tool makes it easy for business analysts to shape, analyze, and visualize data without IT assistance. For instance, the tool automatically identifies data types, concatenates related fields into a single data object (e.g. city, region, and country into location), rearranges columns based on relevance ratings, and suggests visualizations based on the contours of the data, among other things.

Besides its use of heuristics, Logi Vision supports other features that distinguish it from the growing crowd of visual discovery products. For one, Logi Vision offers unique collaboration features that are tailored to business analysts, including search-based discovery, favorites, and rankings. It also makes it easy for analysts to follow each other's work via a customizable shared workspaces and activity streams (think Facebook news feed).

In addition, Logi Vision offers sophisticated binning capabilities that enable analysts to create custom groups from numeric and date values. It also sports a home-grown mapping engine that enables users to view maps while disconnected from the internet. Finally, Logi Vision integrates components from Logi Info, the company's flagship BI development environment.

Logi Analytics shipped Vision 1.3 this week. For more information, go to www.logianalytics.com.


Posted August 26, 2014 10:00 AM
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If you're a big data trailblazer, one way to monetize your risk is to offer your services to those following in your footsteps. This is exactly what Sears Holding Corporation has done. In 2012, Sears Holdings formed MetaScale to offer big data consulting and managed services to large companies in any industry, although it has deep expertise in retail.

MetaScale runs a Big Data Center of Excellence with big data experts who help companies install, implement, and manage Hadoop, NoSQL, and other big data tools and systems. Unlike big data vendors that also offer consulting and managed services, MetaScale is vendor neutral. It can piece together components from multiple vendors and Apache projects into an optimal environment based on a client's unique requirements. It also helps customers conduct proofs of concept, customize a solution to their needs, and manage production environments on a 7x24 basis, either at the customer's site or MetaScale's own hosting center.

MetaScale has helped companies build big data solutions to support real-time inventory tracking, customer segmentation, 360-degree customer views, personalized product offers, network analytics, and pricing optimization. One specialty, for which it has several patents pending, is migrating mainframe data and processing to Hadoop.
For more information, see www.metascale.com.


Posted August 23, 2014 6:24 AM
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One of the best, least known business intelligence (BI) vendors is Dimensional Insight. Founded in 1989, the company has done what few BI vendors have managed to achieve in the past 25 years: maintain a growing base of staunchly loyal customers.

Without much fanfare, the Boston-based company has amassed 2600 customers in more than 30 countries, generating about $20 million a year in revenue. According to most independent customer satisfaction surveys, such as those from the Business Application Research Center (BARC) in Germany and Dresner Advisory Service, Dimensional Insights sits at the top of the pack in terms of overall customer ratings.

Dimensional Insight has very loyal customers, largely because the company has focused with laser intensity on a few markets, such as healthcare providers, wine and spirits, and manufacturing goods and services. In each of these areas, it has crafted custom applications that make it easy for customers to onboard the product and derive value quickly. Moreover, the company's flagship product, The Diver Solution, offers flexible navigation and rich visualization on top of a robust data integration platform. The product also offers a low total cost of ownership.

The company competes against Qlik in the healthcare and goods and services markets and niche vendors in the wine and spirits market. For more information, see www.dimins.com.


Posted August 18, 2014 3:50 PM
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Data integration is bread-and-butter technology. Never glamorous or sexy, it holds the key to opening data to business users. Until recently, most data was tabular, stored in relational databases, and pumped in batch from one system to another. Today, data is multi-structured and increasingly managed by cloud applications. Data integration platforms that don't keep up with the times are doomed to an early obsolescence.

One data integration vendor that is determined to stay relevant among changing tides of data management is SnapLogic. The San Mateo, California-based firm offers a data integration platform that runs both on premise and in the cloud so it can connect any application or data source either inside or outside the firewall. The design, management, and monitoring tools run as multi-tenant applications from HTML5-based browsers and almost any SnapLogic functionality can be triggered by events or scheduled jobs via its REST API. Moreover, the product manages multi-structured data using JSON rather than forcing data flow through a tabular format.

SnapLogic derives its name from pre-packaged data connectors that "snap" together in visual data pipelines in its design tool. SnapLogic offers hundreds of snaps for just about any application or database, both in the cloud or in the data center. The company is also venturing into big data integration with its Hadoop-based offering called SnapReduce 2.0 and pre-built data integration templates that support core processes, such as order to cash or source-to-target data flows from various source systems into Amazon Redshift.

For more information, see www.snaplogic.com


Posted August 15, 2014 3:26 PM
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Platfora is a three-year old company that is designed to provide real-time, ad hoc analysis of data stored in Hadoop. While most Hadoop enthusiasts are embracing real-time SQL query engines, such as Cloudera Impala, Platfora goes several steps further: it is a full-stack BI tool that comes with data wrangling, ad hoc visual discovery, and analytics, such as segmentation and behavioral analysis.

Best of all, Platfora is equipped to blend all types of data, including transaction data from operational systems, interaction data from emails, text documents, and call centers, and machine data from Web and application servers and sensor networks.

Platfora is an in-memory, distributed application that runs alongside Hadoop clusters, either on premise or in the cloud. Developers or highly skilled business use a visual design environment to create "Lenses"--personal data sets with a visual front-end that contain aggregated data from Hadoop. The Lenses run in Platfora's in-memory engine, providing subsecond query response time, allowing business users to analyze data at the speed of thought. And since Platfora maintains a metadata store, it maintains references to source data, enabling business users to drill into atomic data stored in Hadoop, if needed.

Platfora's biggest competitor is the do-it-yourselfer who tries to build custom analytical solutions themselves using Hadoop, MapReduce, Hive, and Pig. Platfora has applied its expertise to creating a scalable, fast analytical platform so customers can focus on analyzing data rather than building and maintain the tools to do the analysis. Platfora manages metadata, security,

For more information, see www.platfora.com.


Posted August 15, 2014 2:28 PM
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