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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/.

We live in a world where video delivery is becoming the norm.  Business users are getting tired of "bar-charts" and "standard reports".  They want interactivity.  While drill-down was an interesting development in interactivity, there doesn't seem to be any major advancement from the BI vendors in years.

With the advent of Flash-delivery, and Microsoft's new Silverlight platform, one would think that BI vendors would have had tremendous advances in technology recently, but no - we're still dealing with the old column based delivery mechanisms, and we think that Pivot tables are "cool"...  Man, we're stuck in the 80's here people...

I am learning Flash, along with SilverLight.  I'm also learning video, interactivity, dynamic graphics, movement, and so on.  Yea, yea - I can hear it now: that's old technology, web-designers have been doing this for years!  Yep...  I know, why then can't we build BI systems and dashboards that provide this kind of interface for our business users?

Some companies claim to handle queries on the backend against VLDW, but fall down when one of the tables has 1.5 billion rows in it.  Some companies claim the latest in "drill-down" technology.  Ok-fine and dandy.  Some companies claim the latest in 3D bar charts or live graphs!  Still some companies say: we integrate with xyz column and pixel positioning systems... uh-huh....  ok - let's get down to brass tacks:

* I agree we need to deliver valuable information in a format that most business users understand, but I also believe in the power of paradigm shifts.
* Where's the tie of the reporting/BI analytics to the business rules?
* Why can't I walk through my business rule processes in 3D (like a walk down a street) and see specific analytics that make sense to that area of business?
* Where are the truly interactive charts and graphs?

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Hire a game programmer to make BI/Analytics interesting, fun and maybe even addicting!  What?  And disturb the balance?  What balance?  What's the hotest selling game out there (according to informal fad's and polls and what I see selling)...  maybe Guitar Hero?  It's on all the platforms.  What does it do that makes you play it for hours on end?

INTERACT...  It gives you a set speed, a set song, a stage, and a fake guitar with 5 buttons on it - you have (what seems like) infinite combinations of notes and speeds of notes to place your fingers on the buttons.  Your skill level determines how fast the game goes.

Now there are more advanced games, like Warcraft, Doom, and so on that make use of more buttons, intellect, thinking, terrain changes (during the game).  And because you are playing against humans, you've got to be good, or get better.

Ok - so maybe the themes aren't right for BI and analytics, but jeepers creepers, when I open up an application and the data sits there - I feel like I'm sitting in an elevator in the 1970's listening to elevator music, waiting to push a floor button.  Dry, Dry, Dry... 

Why not put the "cubes" on a flash-carrousel?  Why not have the cubes visualized in 3D and inter-connected?  Why not display data in a 3D sound wave format, where the head-quarters is the center of the graph?  Why not be able to fly in to the graph as drill down, fly under, fly through - re-focus the graph on a live grid?  Why not use some scientific style graphing or themed graphing techniques to represent the business and the data in a metaphorical manner?

For instance, what if I'm in the oil & gas industry, and what if I represented my business data and profitability as a land-map graph?  What if oil wells represent business units, and can run-dry if they are not profitable?

I believe that there is power in metadata, and what if the metadata were metaphors for the business - the entire business?  Could we develop 3D visualization techniques across metaphors and make better use of business metadata?  YOU BET!   Ahh-but wait a minute, this might require the business to get better at building, managing, and governing the metadata.  Yep.

But as sure as I sit here, I can tell you - that in order for BI to "break out ot its' shell" and really become truly USED (no doubt it's useful), I believe that 3D visualization along themed game-play like consoles may be what's required.

I wonder what would happen if the worlds largest company commissioned someone like dream-works to develop an interactive scenario game, based on a metaphorical description of their business?

Just an idea folks... think about it.  Can BI be fun in the future?  I would like to think so.  If you've got some themes or ideas for specific lines of business, I'd love to hear about them.

Dan Linstedt
http://www.RapidACE.com - 3D Data Model Visualizer

Posted February 2, 2009 4:04 AM
Permalink | 2 Comments |


I think the idea has merit in that it would make our analytic applications "eye popping". My preference would be to use this "eye popping" only when it increased the density of information displayed.

Sounds like great ideas (you aren't the first), but remember on other characteristic of the new internet-oriented generation -- they all have very short attention spans. Think scan reading, fast-forward, and show-me-what-I-need-to-know, but never force them to navigate around an interface just because it's cool to see the panel transisitons in 3D. They won't want to play hours on end with your data...so choose your metaphor carefully.

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