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Dan Power

Greetings to all of my friends who work in the area of computerized decision support. This blog is a way for me to share stories from my encounters related to decision support, to comment on industry events, and to comment on other blogger's comments, especially those of my friends on the Business Intelligence Network. I'll try to state my opinions clearly and provide an old professor's perspective on how computers and information technology are changing the world. Decision making has always been my focus, and it will be in this blog as well. Your comments, feedback and questions are welcomed.

About the author >

Daniel J. "Dan" Power is a Professor of Information Systems and Management at the College of Business Administration at the University of Northern Iowa and the editor of DSSResources.com, the Web-based knowledge repository about computerized systems that support decision making; the editor of PlanningSkills.com; and the editor of DSS News, a bi-weekly e-newsletter. Dr. Power's research interests include the design and development of decision support systems and how these systems impact individual and organizational decision behavior.

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

April 2008 Archives

The cover story for the April 14, 2008 InformationWeek focused on business intelligence. The article titled "Then There Were Four" is by Mary Hayes Weier (pps. 33-41). The overriding question of the article is: "Are the big 4 making BI better?" She never really answers the question. My answer is MAYBE.

According to Weier, "IBM, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft account for about half of the $7billion business intelligence market. All four are pitching enterprise-wide BI platforms, each with its own twist. Here's what you need to know to choose." She then provides a comprehensive analysis of the the recent BI acquisition history, the challenges facing each company to integrate diverse product lines and what she sees as the strategies each of the big 4 is following and who might win. Overall, I found the article a useful, quick read. Nothing earth shattering, but reasonably helpful to an IT person trying to sort out the business intelligence market place.

My take on what is happening is:

1) IBM wants to move beyond infrastructure and provide more comprehensive application integration services. Cognos is a good fit with the strategy.

2) SAP wants to focus on operational business intelligence. It has too many products developed in-house and acquired. The BI tools are in disarray. Business Objects is a good partner, but there are and will be major problems.

3) Oracle emphasizes its database product. Business Objects would have been a better acquisition for Oracle than Hyperion, but the deeds are done. Oracle may need to look seriously at acquiring Microstrategy to get a frontend application development tool. Integrating the Oracle stack to create enterprise-wide BI is still a problem. What kind of BI does Oracle want to provide? I don't know. Oracle needs to sort out its applications, operational performance monitoring, special studies, scorecards, financial analysis, budgeting, etc. Oracle needs a clearer vision of data-driven decision support.

4) Microsoft is getting much stronger. I always liked the ProClarity people and product. SQL Server 2008 is the key to greater penetration by Microsoft in the enterprise BI application domain. I still like Excel even though I am concerned about moving away from Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). If Microsoft figures out that competing with Google "head on" in search is no win, then perhaps Microsoft will make a real commitment to enterprise-wide data-driven decision support and get it right.

Check the article at: http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2008/04/14/3385297.htm .

Posted April 27, 2008 9:23 AM
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In my April 5, 2008 blog post, I quoted Jane McGonigal on alternate reality games, or ARGs. She claims "ARGs will provide a truly stimulating framework for doing everyday work." Supposedly alternate reality games help users develop 10 collective-intelligence competencies, like "influency", "emergensight" and "mobbability". I noted the skill names seem strange, but I promised to investigate and blog about the competencies/skills in a future posting. So this is what I uncovered and think.

First check Jane's powerpoint slides at http://www.slideshare.net/avantgame/10-collaboration-superpowers/. She defines the 10 collaboration and collective intelligence compentancies and skills. Her points have a * ...

Mobbability --> to me this means skill at synchronous work in large virtual teams

* The ability to do realtime work in very large groups.
* A talent for coordinating with many people simultaneously - "scalable collaboration"

Cooperation radar --> to me this means skill in selecting virtual teammates

* The ability to sense, almost intuitively, who would make the best collaborators on a particular task.

Ping quotient --> to me this means fast interaction and response

* Measures your responsiveness to other people's requests for engagement.
* Your propensity and ability to reach out to others in a network.

Influency --> to me this means building trust and exerting influence

* The ability to be persuasive in diverse social contexts and media spaces.
* Understanding that each work environment and collaboration space requires a different persuasive strategy and technique.

Multi-capitalism --> to me this means skill in using all of one's skills and resources

* Fluency in working with different capitals, e.g., natural, intellectual, social, and financial.

Protovation --> to me this means innovation, rapid prototyping and rapid response

* Fearless innovation in rapid, iterative cycles.
* Ability to lower the costs and increase the speed of failure.

Open authorship --> to me this means content sharing with appropriate attribution of authorship

* Creating content for public consumption and modification.

Longbroading --> to me this means examining the current and future context of a situation, taking a broad, holistic view

* Thinking in terms of higher level systems, cycles, the big picture.

Emergensight --> to me this means intellectual flexibility, situational awareness and planning skills

* The ability to prepare for and handle surprising results and complexity.

Signal/noise management --> to me this means selective scanning and information load management

* Filtering meaningful info, patterns, and commonalities from massively multiple streams of data.

Well Jane, I still don't like the terms you use, but I think my skills in all these areas are improving from my experiences in the virtual world called Second Life.

Source: Harvard Business Review; February 2008, Vol. 86 Issue 2, pp. 17-45.

Posted April 13, 2008 9:21 AM
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Harvard Business Review has an annual survey of ideas and trends that "will make an impact on business". The 2008 article identifies 20 transformations. I'll identify eight that are particularly relevant to decision support.

Jerome Groopman, MD discusses errors of judgment and how physicians are beginning to acknowledge their fallibility "in an effort to teach others and to improve themselves." CEOs should have formal decision-making reviews for self-analysis. Do you think this will happen?

Michael Sheehan suggests managers need to deal more effectively with opposition to strategic ideas. He notes "for a variety of reasons, businesses face better organized and more vocal opponents than ever before." The approaches for dealing with community-based opposition are not tied to tradional business intelligence, but good customer relationship decision support could help.

John Medina suggests "imagine a brain-friendly workplace where board meetings are conducted on treadmills, desks are equipped with stationary bicycles, and people wear gym clothes, not suits." Supposedly we "learn 20% faster immediately after exercise than after sitting still." So exercise while you use your BI tools.

Jane McGonigal writes "In the coming decade, many businesses will achieve their greatest breakthroughs by playing games - specifically, alternate reality games, or ARGs." "ARGs will provide a truly stimulating framework for doing everyday work." Supposedly alternate reality games help users develop 10 collective-intelligence competencies, like "influency", "emergensight" and "mobbability". Well the skill names seem strange, but I will investigate and blog about the competencies/skills in a future posting.

Miklos Sarvary, Professor at INSEAD titles his contribution "The Metaverse: TV of the Future?". Sarvey asserts "Within five years, the dominant internet interface is likely to be the metaverse, a term used to describe interactive multiplayer games such as Second Life." Organizations need to prepare for the coming of the metaverse. INSEAD "opened a virtual campus on Second Life to find the answers."

Jan Chipchase suggests "In an increasingly connected future, the data trails from all these sources will create a massive universe of metadata. ... In the brave new world of aggregated data, companies will need to monitor themselves as well."

Lew McCreary suggests PDAs are and will become "excuse technology". "Anticipate, therefore, epidemic levels of BlackBerry and Treo-constrained recollection of important decisions made in your presence or of orders you've issued to your teams."

Michael J. Mauboussin asserts "As computing power grows and networks unleash the wisdom of crowds, the unique value of experts in making predictions and solving problems is steadily narrowing."

Well on to 2009 and more predictions next year. Thanks HBR for looking ahead once in awhile.

Source: Harvard Business Review; February 2008, Vol. 86 Issue 2, pp. 17-45.

Posted April 5, 2008 8:41 AM
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