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Colin White

I like the various blogs associated with my many hobbies and even those to do with work. I find them very useful and I was excited when the Business Intelligence Network invited me to write my very own blog. At last I now have somewhere to park all the various tidbits that I know are useful, but I am not sure what to do with. I am interested in a wide range of information technologies and so you might find my thoughts will bounce around a bit. I hope these thoughts will provoke some interesting discussions.

About the author >

Colin White is the founder of BI Research and president of DataBase Associates Inc. As an analyst, educator and writer, he is well known for his in-depth knowledge of data management, information integration, and business intelligence technologies and how they can be used for building the smart and agile business. With many years of IT experience, he has consulted for dozens of companies throughout the world and is a frequent speaker at leading IT events. Colin has written numerous articles and papers on deploying new and evolving information technologies for business benefit and is a regular contributor to several leading print- and web-based industry journals. For ten years he was the conference chair of the Shared Insights Portals, Content Management, and Collaboration conference. He was also the conference director of the DB/EXPO trade show and conference.

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

July 2005 Archives

Over the past few weeks I've attended briefings about upcoming product releases from Cognos, Hyperion and SAP. What struck me about these briefings was that these vendors were not only focused on creating integrated BI product sets, but also on bringing business planning into the mix. It appears that BI vendors have at last woken up to the fact that for BI-driven business performance management to be successful it must be closely tied to business planning. Interestingly, just as I started writing this entry Business Objects announced that were acquiring SRC Software, a mid-market planning and budgeting vendor.

Every major BI vendor claims to support BI-driven business performance management (BPM). In reality, many of these products are simply business dashboards that create fancy displays of business metrics.

A "true" BPM product not only creates and displays business metrics, but also ties those metrics back to business goals and targets. This allows business users to compare actuals against plans and to take actions when targets are in jeopardy.

As BI applications have been moving gradually towards supporting a BPM environment, business planning has also been changing. Companies are moving away from spreadsheet chaos and toward the use of shared Web-based and desktop-based planning systems. At the same time, these companies are also looking beyond budgeting in the planning process. They are also taking into account factors like employee retention, and customer retention and satisfaction, into account.

Cognos, Hyperion and SAP all have planning products and they have begun to realize that integrating business planning with business intelligence gives them a competitive edge over BI competitors such as Business Objects and Microstrategy.

When Cognos acquired Adaytum, Business Objects said this was a mistake because the financial planning marketplace was a mature and saturated. Business Objects has been proved wrong. Companies are expanding their planning processes and are looking to acquire more advanced planning systems. As they deploy these systems, these companies will quickly realize the importance of have an integrated BI environment that enables them to validate plans and iteratively modify them as business circumstances change.

It would appear that Business Objects in acquiring SRC has realized its mistake. As always it's not only a matter of providing functionality, but also of integrating that functionality with existing products. There is no question that Cognos, Hyperion and SAP have a head start here. The key point to note, however, is that business planning is now becoming a key component of the BI environment.

Posted July 21, 2005 8:27 AM
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I heard today that Janet Perna is planning to retire from IBM after 31 years with the company. Janet is general manager of Information Management Solutions, which is responsible for the DB2 DBMS and IBM's growing data warehousing and business intelligence set of products (including those acquired from Ascential Software). She will be replaced by Ambuj Goyal, who is currently general manager of Lotus Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Software. I think all of those who know Janet would agree that she has made a tremendous contribution to our industry, and I wish her well in her retirement.

Posted July 19, 2005 12:51 PM
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Enterprise data integration is a hot topic and covers a wide range of technologies including enterprise application integration (EAI), enterprise information integration (EII), and extract, transformation and load (ETL). Master Data Management (MDI) is also a data integration technology and should be added to list. Just to make life interesting, analyst organizations like Gartner are talking about Customer Data Integration (CDI), which to me is a subset of MDM. Sorting all this out and coming up with a data integration strategy is not easy.

Currently I am conducting a research project on data integration for the data warehousing institute (TDWI). The results will be published in a TDWI report and Webcast in October.

The premise of the research report is that organizations are moving toward (or need to move toward) an enterprise-wide data integration strategy (of which data warehousing is a piece). It will look at different types of data integration (consolidation, federation, propagation) and data integration technology (EAI, EII, ETL, MDM). It will discuss why these technologies complement, rather than compete, with each other and suggest which technology should be used when. It will also look at requirements for data integration products and look at the concept of a data integration center.

I am interested to hear if you agree with the premise of the paper. The topic of the data integration center is also very interesting. Several companies I have interviewed either have, or are planning to have, a data integration center. Both Ascential (IBM) and Informatica are pushing this concept. Informatica recently published a book on the data integration centers and it is worth reading, even if you aren't an Informatica customer. You can find the book on Amazon.

All comments welcome. Colin.

Posted July 19, 2005 12:21 PM
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The level of feedback I receive to my articles is a good indication of how much interest (or perhaps confusion!) there is about the topic being discussed. My June newsletter article on open source portals (The Role of Open Source in Enterprise Portals) generated a lot of e-mail. This confirms the increasing interest in open source solutions.

One open source portal I missed out was Jboss Portal 2 (www.jboss.com). If you have any experience with this portal or any of the other portals mentioned in the article I would love to hear from you.

Posted July 15, 2005 9:49 AM
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Well I have finally succumbed and decided to go with the industry flow and write my own blog! My main focus will be on business integration, which of course gives me the opportunity to talk about a wide range of different topics. As a starting point, however, the main topics I intend to cover are data integration, operational business intelligence and knowledge management.

There are also some rapidly evolving fields I am interested in including business process management, open source solutions, and the impact of sensor networks and RFID on business intelligence and data warehousing.

I am excited about the opportunity to share and discuss industry happenings with you all and so please help keep the blog going by joining in the discussion.

Posted July 13, 2005 1:15 PM
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