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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/.

Do you still think that knowing flash and actionscript is not a newly required skill? Have you seen the latest version of Crystal Reports from BO? It now contains a front-end product that used to be called Excelsius, which is a flash-based front-end BI dashboard library. You can drag and drop buttons, charts, pre-built reports, and other things on to the different scenes in the dashboard. No more flipping pages, and writing PHP code or Java code to exercise BI on the client side. It's a highly protected environment.

I'm on site this week at one of our Data Vault customers, and what do I find? A technical business lead working with Excelsius, a flash based reporting product (now owned by Business Objects), producing live dashboards for executives COMPLETE WITH METADATA. I know there are a few products out there in the space, and I'm going to research a little more.

It's here. The concept of Interactive Business Intelligence. The idea that you can interact with the BI in front of you, along with the metadata, the master data, the help, and even the database backend all through flash. When an Interactive BI platform is built it includes the following abilities:

* Help / Knowledge / Metadata for anything, any metric, any chart, any button on the dashboard
* Dynamic query forms according to login security
* Re-arrangable dashboards, zoomable components
* Master Data, reporting, and maintenance
* Import/export of Excel for users with privileges to do so.
* Live Learning/Training videos available WITHIN the dashboard
* The ability to CHANGE the metrics and automatically produce new dashboard graphs through an executive drag and drop.
* Data Capture Forms, yes - in Interactive BI, it sits on TOP of an Operational Data Warehouse, therefore - when the privileges are available, the form actually will allow Operational Data to be entered live in the Interactive BI front-end. Now lets REALLY start talking about "What-if" games in BI, this is where the true power comes. Keep in mind that operational Data Warehouses may allow what "LOOKS" like an update in the front-end, but follow strict EDW rules, and always always always INSERT the data on the back-end.

The dream of complete Interactive BI is not yet here, but the journey has begun. With tools like Excelsius on the way, there are bound to be more.

Interactive BI is NOT just reporting and viewing help, or drilling down and back up. Interactive BI includes a graphical experience, and the ability to really INTERACT and even CHANGE the data one is looking at, live, real-time. It includes the ability to re-arrange the dashboards (which can be done today in traditional technology), and to watch help videos, participate in training sessions, collaborate ON THE FLY with co-workers while working with the dashboard. Most of all, interactivity with the data set itself.

Interactive BI sits on top of an operational data warehouse (as I've previously described). Now, is everyone going to need this today? Certainly not. Only certain applications (today) lend themselves to this type of delivery mechanism, and only certain types of data warehouses really require operational data warehousing as a way of life. But I will say, that this is where the future is headed.

To the point, it's not just about delivering the right data at the right time to the right user; it's also about enriching and enhancing the user experience - making the data TRULY flexible and applicable to the business. It's about allowing the business to make the changes WHEN REQUIRED, see what the impacts are, and then either make a different decision (immediately), or return to the previous state.

We continue (as an industry) to discuss how business rules and business logic are moving towards the hands of the business user, Interactive BI puts this squarely in their laps. Interactive BI is another step in the development process, and requires I.T. to learn new skills for delivery. Interactive BI mixes and enriches the delivery of the right information with the delivery of on-time metadata, master data, video help, live audio and even management and alteration of Operational Data. Most of all, it's DYNAMIC, all of it is dynamic; while the data sets can be real-time or strategic in nature - the interface remains dynamic.

Interactive BI is the next big thing and sits on top of a DW2.0 compliant Operational Data Warehouse. It's early yet in the life-cycle and needs to grow up, but the base-level technology is available today for those that want to move to the next level of competitive edge.

Dan L

Posted March 18, 2008 5:06 AM
Permalink | 2 Comments |


Hey Dan,
We use Excelsius and even though it is not a bad product it really is not tied into the backend which makes it a monster to maintain and is really a "glorified" spreadsheet solution with flashy charts. It really takes a static dataset and produces it in an executive friendly (reduced IQ) format. Once tools like BO, Cognos, MS improve on the front-ends they have, these would work much better. Right now we are trying to get our execs off Excelsius (pretty front-end) and onto Cognos (Real data but not as pretty) using Reports, Analysis and Metric Studio combinations using dashboards.

Take Care,


I agree that interactive BI, or at least the illusion of interactivity, is well on its way. I have worked with many Cognos customers that have been sold on using Javascript in Report Studio to create some very slick looking reports. But as Sanjay mentioned above about Excelsiius, one of the challenges is maintaining these solutions, especially once business logic starts creeping into the front end.

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