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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Wouldn't it be helpful if, when dealing with your consultants, vendors, support groups and employees, one of the following paragraphs magically appeared above their head in a quote bubble?
1. I am acting as an advocate. I am exercising my passion and persuasion on behalf of my firm, my department or a cause in which I do not privately believe is the best solution aligned with your objectives.
2. I really believe what I am saying here. It is the best I can do and it makes sense for my understanding of your objectives.
Other than the fact that by the time I get to the word "service", half of the time I say "solution" instead of service, what about the viability of SAAS?
First, to levelset, SAAS refers to those set of solutions that are 'housed' offsite at the location of the vendor who actually developed the application. If a vendor is hosting all or most of a company's software, well beyond those applications which the vendor built, that is really an outsourcing relationship and falls under different rules. These 2 approaches are seldom compatible since the cost of applications to an outsourcing relationship is usually additive and efficiences are gained from having more applications at the outsourcer.
Back to SAAS, the 3 hallmarks or selling points are (1) no IT involvement, (2) pay-as-you-go with little upfront cost and (3) the vendor takes all responsibility for infrastructure and upgrades - those invasive and non-value-added activities. The perception of SAAS is lower costs, speed to market and no IT. Interest is growing across a range of applications at my clients and much of SAAS is designed to fit within a departmental budget.
Here are some rules of thumb for the consideration of SAAS solutions, BI or otherwise:
1. Check the value proposition of the application.
Of course, this applies to any application, SAAS or otherwise. However, it's worth mentioning that there should be some bottom-line business benefit at some level to actually doing the application in the first place.
2. Ensure scalability
I'm not referring to the expansion of disk, etc. That's assumed to be taken care of by the vendor. I'm referring to the ability to expand the core functionality of the application beyond the provided functionality, which becomes less interesting after the first 60 days.
3. Don't sabotage IT plans
IT may actually have a way to provide the business the functionality it needs at a lower cost and in a manner that is congruent with the direction of the core infrastructure of the company. Notice I say the functionality that the business needs - not exactly the functionality of the vendor product.
On the other hand, if IT wants the business, it should be continually performing top-down analysis of the technical environment and demonstrating progress towards the ability to support the business requirements. If there's no plan, the business is not sabotaging the plan, now are they?
At the end of the day, the general situation that SAAS seems to make the most sense is in an SMB shop when the data sources are somewhat standard (i.e., popular) and the data is not overly sensitive in an SMB shop. I am quite optimistic that SAAS will make numerous inroads in the coming years.
The folks at ParAccel have been busy. After smashing some TPC-H numbers to prove they have a viable solution, they have forged an interesting framework of partnerships that include JasperSoft and Talend - open source business intelligence and ETL solutions. These 2 partner otherwise as well so many integration issues have been worked out -JasperSoft OEMs Talend's open source ETL software. Another interesting partnership is an OEM partnership with IBM. ParAccel is embedding IBM InfoSphere Change Data Capture within the ParAccel Analytic Database. This signals ParAccel's interest in real-time data capture right off the bat. Real-time data loading will be an important part of information architectures to come so this early partnership is quite interesting. And there are more partnerships to come.
Finally, just today ParAccel announced their product's availability in a pre-packaged traditional appliance model. Perhaps truly the marketplace is countering the information management consolidation revolution with viable alternatives. This Red Herring 100 finalist is making good strides to be one of them.