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Dan Linstedt

Bill Inmon has given me this wonderful opportunity to blog on his behalf. I like to cover everything from DW2.0 to integration to data modeling, including ETL/ELT, SOA, Master Data Management, Unstructured Data, DW and BI. Currently I am working on ways to create dynamic data warehouses, push-button architectures, and automated generation of common data models. You can find me at Denver University where I participate on an academic advisory board for Masters Students in I.T. I can't wait to hear from you in the comments of my blog entries. Thank-you, and all the best; Dan Linstedt http://www.COBICC.com, danL@danLinstedt.com

About the author >

Cofounder of Genesee Academy, RapidACE, and BetterDataModel.com, Daniel Linstedt is an internationally known expert in data warehousing, business intelligence, analytics, very large data warehousing (VLDW), OLTP and performance and tuning. He has been the lead technical architect on enterprise-wide data warehouse projects and refinements for many Fortune 500 companies. Linstedt is an instructor of The Data Warehousing Institute and a featured speaker at industry events. He is a Certified DW2.0 Architect. He has worked with companies including: IBM, Informatica, Ipedo, X-Aware, Netezza, Microsoft, Oracle, Silver Creek Systems, and Teradata.  He is trained in SEI / CMMi Level 5, and is the inventor of The Matrix Methodology, and the Data Vault Data modeling architecture. He has built expert training courses, and trained hundreds of industry professionals, and is the voice of Bill Inmons' Blog on http://www.b-eye-network.com/blogs/linstedt/.

So you've all seen Flash production movies? You've all heard of Pod-casts? How about web-interactivity without "changing pages"? I'm sure you've seen Flash produced web-sites, or played an animated game lately. This post is about the new skill sets needed by BI vendors, and Business Intelligence Analysts to survive the new upcoming wave. Those of you producing PowerPoints, or sitting in the background coding "BI Reports..." you've got a few things to learn.

Alrighty then, I'm a little brazen in this entry, but I'm also excited. I think there's a new wave (ok, so it's not new) but it's hot, of where the industry is heading. I think AJAX is really cool, the web technology is awesome, but there are new delivery technologies on the rise that are starting to force us to re-think the way we interact with the business community.

If you've not learned Flash yet, you're already behind the 8-ball. Flash combined with ActionScript has been around for a long time, but AS3 and Flash CS3 creator have evolved. They are some of the hotest products out there. Give up on your old "BI 2-D non-interactive tabular reporting". You've got new skills to learn!

These days it's about interaction with the user, animation, graphical displays, and delivering learning content. Flash gives you all that, Unfortunately there aren't any "really good ActionScript libraries" developed strictly for Business Intelligence (yet). But I'm seeing and feeling like the existing BI vendors would do well here - to animate their reports, combine the static reports with interaction against the database, along with instructional video and quizzes (like do you know what this metadata means?)...

These are important skills for BI delivery folks to pick up. I am going to start delivering a Flash recorded video blog as an experiment (I know, these already exist - but mostly these are today geared towards the graphic artists).

I've got news for you, new skills are needed on the horizon. Flash and ActionScript can deliver a power-packed presentation, which can be tailored (live) according to the audience level of participation.

ActionScript lets me hook to the database, communicate with a server in XML & sockets, and control delivery of streaming content. Why wouldn't I want my BI solution to involve interaction? It seems like (to me now) that 2D static reporting is a thing of the past, although printing these components on hard-copy still is a good idea.

Flash makes drill-down, drill-across easy, as does presentation in 3D with animtaion steps.

Ok, so why am I excited? I've been teaching for over 10 years, dry powerpoint presentations, with PPT animation... Ok - a still a good way to deliver content, but take the PowerPoints, run it through Captivate, put it in Flash, then add my own dynamic actions to it? Quizzes, and the like... way cool. Now as an instructor I can tailor the instruction to the student WHILE they are experiencing the course. Talk about interactive "business intelligence" - I finally have the opportunity to use "LIVE BI" to interact at run-time with the student or business executive to deliver the NEXT STEP of the class according to what they need.

Really cool stuff. What would happen if someone like Cognos, Microstrategy, or Hyperion would put there output into a Flash movie? So you could "run through reports, add explanation, and decision pathing, and metadata + voice" then deliver the content to the business? I think interest and interaction would increase, especially if the recorded movie automatically interacted with the database to bring back live data... Talk about visualization capabilities... WAY COOL.

Ok - Dan, you're off your rocker...
Am I? Really? Haven't you always wanted to make BI interesting, and interactive? Wouldn't it be more fun? I've discussed convergence in the past, I've discussed data visualization, and interactive graphics - SO WHY NOT? Why should I code in SQL alone? Why shouldn't I code in ActionScript + SQL + XML and use the power of PowerPoints, Pathing, Quizzes, and Flash to make presentations that really pop?

My experimental blog will replace the Wiki on BetterDataModel.com - we'll see where this goes... Love to have your comments and thoughts.

A couple of products you really have to have (no I'm not a re-seller)
$40 - ZLASH, ActionScript editor IN PLACE in SWF files (movie files)
Adobe Flash CS3 Pro, $399?? Something like this
Adobe Captivate
Microsoft PowerPoint

Dan Linstedt

Posted March 2, 2008 3:55 PM
Permalink | 5 Comments |


Hey Dan,

I'm quite big on BI 2.0 as well... you can certainly do a heck of a lot of cool things, and as a technician I would be betraying my background to think anything else. That being said, proclaiming flash, actionscript etc to be required skillsets for delivering BI going forward is vastly inaccurate. The value add from a simple bar graph that you can drill on to a 3rd bar graph that you can zoom around, add comments to in voice and text is minimal, and probably a data management nightmare for IT. What people really want is the right figures at the right time, and that is what BI practitioners need to deliver, anything else is icing.

Hi Ben,

I appreciate your comments, and certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion. I respectfully disagree that all we can produce is a simple bar-graph, or a 3d image that we can zoom around in.

By using Captivate, we can actually interact with the business and the data on the back-end in real-time. We can build business process work-flow logic into interaction and deliver the right data at the right time.

May I also state that people had the same reaction when the "web-interfaces" were first introduced, and a move was made away from fat-client technology...

I do agree with you that always, it is the number one most important priority to deliver the right information at the right time regardless of the delivery medium.

All I'm trying to point out here, is that there really are quite a few things that we can do with Captivate from an interactivity standpoint that are difficult (and require lots of custom coding) to accomplish with "today's standard and traditional BI tools."

Thank-you for your insights, I really appreciate the feedback, as it makes me re-think my position.

Hope to see you back again.

Take care,
Daniel Linstedt

Hey Dan,

I couldn't agree more.

I recently posted about this idea in my blog, stating that we must share ideas of how to show the data to the users in the right way and in the right time. This is the big challenge for us. Of course it includes how and which technologies to use. Personally, I'm using much JavaScript in order to give the user the most rich and interactive experience that I can give. I'll show example of that in my blog in the near future.

Great Post.


Microstrategy support creating interactive dashbaords usign flex. Which when outputted are in flash format file. Check out the Web site for samples. Also creating additional components for display can be easily built in a few minutes using Adobe Flex Builder and the Microstrategy Visualization SDK

I agree that delivering the right data, on the right time, to the right people is a quite nice marketing statement. Perhaps we can enhance it with "by using the right tool(s)" or "by addressing the customer in the right language".

I, as a facilitator, agree with Dan that there lies a big opportunity for business Intelligence. We had an evolution from overhead to powerpoint, to flash/actionscripts/etc. now-a-days, why not have that same evolution in BI.

We started with paper reports, which we soon followed by reports by computer / internet (web). The next step were the interactive reporting capabilities of the tools and now ... let's use the business intelligence of clickstream analysis (not only within webreports) and create intuitive reporting. I have written a BLOG entry about my experiences on the usage of Windows Movie Maker as a substitute to Microsoft Powerpoint. (See Wisdom 2 T Mass).

Let's make some noice to the world and use all multimedia registers to reach our customer, because Dan...

Weren't you and Hans Hultgren not using a 3D Data Modelling tool for the Data Vault visualisation. In my opinion this is also an example of the tool evolution and customer needs (Oh, do I hate it when lines cross in my datamodel!!!).

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