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Ron Powell

Thanks for visiting my blog. As co-founder of the BeyeNETWORK, acquired by TechTarget in 2010, I am privileged to participate in many industry-related activities as a BeyeNETWORK expert covering business intelligence and analytics. These events provide me with a unique insider perspective into the business intelligence ecosystem, its products and the vendors that provide those products. I'll be sharing that invaluable information with you through this blog, which will also be a reflection my business philosophy. And, just to make this interesting, I'll be sure to include my personal point of view on a wide range of topics and share some of the stories of people I meet in my travels.

About the author >

Ron is an independent analyst, consultant and editorial expert with extensive knowledge and experience in business intelligence, big data, analytics and data warehousing. Currently president of Powell Interactive Media, which specializes in consulting and podcast services, he is also Executive Producer of The World Transformed Fast Forward series. In 2004, Ron founded the BeyeNETWORK, which was acquired by Tech Target in 2010.  Prior to the founding of the BeyeNETWORK, Ron was cofounder, publisher and editorial director of DM Review (now Information Management). He maintains an expert channel and blog on the BeyeNETWORK and may be contacted by email at rpowell@powellinteractivemedia.com. 

More articles and Ron's blog can be found in his BeyeNETWORK expert channel.

March 2009 Archives

At the SAP NetWeaver BI and Portals Conference in Orlando, FL, the keynote speaker was Marge Breya, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Intelligence Solutions for SAP. In her keynote address, she provided an overview of the SAP NetWeaver and SAP BusinessObjects' intelligence platform strategy and product portfolio. Their were 18 demos that demonstrated many of the solutions available today and some products that will be released in the year ahead.

One of the major takeaways was how tightly integrated the two product sets have become and why SAP is getting so much lift from the acquisition with its existing client base. Some of the demos highlighted:
  • The ease at which a business user can search both structured and unstructured data much like Google for exploration with Polestar
  • The use of Voyager and BEx Analyzer for OLAP
  • Ad hoc queries with Web Intelligence
  • Dashboards with Xcelsius
  • Production reporting with Crystal
Several future products that were discussed were:
  • A business process modeling tool (code name Galaxy) that allows you to build a process where you have stewardship over your metadata.
  • Data Federation Designer, which allows you to access data from many sources (includes non-SAP data) where it resides, which is critical for operational business intelligence.
  • Blue Ruby Integration with SAP data for quick deployment of websites.
Bottom Line: It is apparent that the acquisition of Business Objects is paying enormous dividends to SAP as existing customers are embracing its integrated business intelligence offerings. Over 30% of existing SAP customers have implemented Business Objects. Many of the customers that I talked to at the show were planning to upgrade to their latest business intelligence offerings. Many attendees also expressed that under these current economic times, it was far easier for them to upgrade their current products than try to justify software from a brand new vendor. They also expressed that most projects had to demonstrate a ROI in less then 90 days. Also, I was impressed by Polestar that provides a search approach much like Google, which is how business people go about their work today.

Posted March 26, 2009 11:30 AM
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At the annual SAS Global Forum in Washington, D.C., the keynote speaker was The Honorable Madeleine Albright, Former Secretary of State and Principal of the Albright Group LLC, who talked about her tenure under Bill Clinton. She made some interesting points which were very enlightening:

  • A person presenting the information has a bias and that is why she always wants the raw data in addition to the analysis.
  • The first information that comes in is usually "wrong." 
  • There is no such thing as a completely objective statistic!
Jim Davis, Senior Vice President of Marketing for SAS, stated that the future is not business intelligence, it is business analytics and that every corporation must implement a business analytics framework to be successful in the future. He emphasized that business analytics is a framework and not a platform. The business analytics framework from SAS is comprised of four components: business solutions, reporting, analytics and data integration. Business intelligence is just a subset of business analytics. 

Obviously, you can't argue with the success of SAS, which has just recorded its 33rd straight year of revenue growth to $2.6 billion, but the fact that Jim perceives business intelligence (BI) as a subset of business analytics is a stretch. I agree that BI has evolved into the realm of analytics, which is a major focus for the business user today. The business buys solutions that are focused on their specific industry. The business intelligence market has continued to grow at a remarkable rate and today encompasses much more than traditional reporting.

Jim also presented some interesting numbers that I found fascinating: In 2007, there were 281 exabytes of information, and by 2011 we will have over 1,800 exabytes of information available. There are currently 107 million active Internet domains, 1.5 billion Internet users (roughly 25% of the population) and over 133,000 new sites are added to the Web every day.

Jim also described eight steps on how business analytics have moved from being reactive to proactive. The first 4 steps are reactive: standard reporting, ad hoc reporting, query drill down (OLAP) and alerts via dashboards. The 4 proactive steps are statistical analysis, forecasting, predictive modeling and optimization. He emphasized that with analytics, one size does not fit all.

He also emphasized that each enterprise must determine their organizational readiness for deploying a business analytics framework. The readiness assessment includes six key areas:
  • Do I have the right people?
  • Is our leadership involved?
  • Do we have transparency with regard to goals and KPIs?
  • Are we effectively communicating the process between employees and customers?
  • Do we have an infrastructure?
  • Is the culture of the organization ready to embrace change?

Posted March 23, 2009 7:40 AM
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