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William McKnight

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I will periodically be sharing my thoughts and observations on information management here in the blog. I am passionate about the effective creation, management and distribution of information for the benefit of company goals, and I'm thrilled to be a part of my clients' growth plans and connect what the industry provides to those goals. I have played many roles, but the perspective I come from is benefit to the end client. I hope the entries can be of some modest benefit to that goal. Please share your thoughts and input to the topics.

About the author >

William is the president of McKnight Consulting Group, a firm focused on delivering business value and solving business challenges utilizing proven, streamlined approaches in data warehousing, master data management and business intelligence, all with a focus on data quality and scalable architectures. William functions as strategist, information architect and program manager for complex, high-volume, full life-cycle implementations worldwide. William is a Southwest Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, a frequent best-practices judge, has authored hundreds of articles and white papers, and given hundreds of international keynotes and public seminars. His team's implementations from both IT and consultant positions have won Best Practices awards. He is a former IT Vice President of a Fortune company, a former software engineer, and holds an MBA. William is author of the book 90 Days to Success in Consulting. Contact William at wmcknight@mcknightcg.com.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in William's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

The midmarket especially is still having a hard time with business intelligence. The appetite simply isn't there for "metadata", "data stewardship", "data quality", "XML", "ODS", "MPP" and the like. Simple reports - yes. Quick implementation - now you're talking. Stepping into this fray is venture-backed LucidEra - Hosted Business Intelligence on Demand.

While I have been bemoaning packaged approaches to BI for years, saying there are efficiencies but few shortcuts, I have to say the LucidEra approach has merit for its target customer base - the midmarket.


. Expert applications that answer the most commonly asked questions
. User-definable configurations, not done by vendor
. Focus on business processes
. Platform not exposed to customer

They're only in Beta and it's one application, Forecast-to-Billing, but just as in an end-user environment, once the data act is in order, applications can be spun off relatively quickly and I anticipate LucidEra will do this.

Could LucidEra be a (long-term) custom OLAP killer? Maybe. Time will tell, with the next few quarters being critical to that direction. Custom Microsoft solutions are also pretty easy to deploy and will be the choice of many in the midmarket, although Microsoft is eyeing the fortune accounts. Regardless, all signs point to improvement in the penetration of the midmarket by business intelligence.

As with anything "packaged", buyer beware. Just be ready and understand it fully. Hire a real DW/BI consultant to help you organize processes and roles and responsibilities for maintenance and iterating it.

Posted October 9, 2006 7:25 AM
Permalink | 2 Comments |



A quick comment regarding the “buyer beware” advisory:

Yes, buyers should evaluate closely what they buy. At the same time, we should not forget that from the end users’ point of view, every single BI/OLAP solution is "packaged" by someone else.

Each BI application is constrained by the following:
1. The choice of data captured and aggregated into a data warehouse, mart, or equivalent data structure.
2. The choice of metadata exposed to end users.
3. The selection of reports and dashboards made available to the end user, for cases where the user does not have the option to create customized reports or dashboards.

Hence, for the end user, the choice becomes one between selecting and quickly deploying a hosted application from someone like LucidEra, or relying on an application that will be designed, built, configured, and deployed (read: “packaged”) within their organization.

We use Panorama Software's BI solution. the company offers the ability to host their solution as an SaaS. this is basically done by remote replication of our inhouse OLAP cube to their server in a secured and encripted way. then we get access to the application via the web. this is the hybrid approach for BI in SaaS vs. totally new strategies

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