Monthly Archives: February 2008

Reality Mining and Surprise Modeling – Future Tech

Reading this Technology Review, it seems inevitable that such advanced mining technologies will pop-up in the near future. The world has a wealth of information and every single thing will be data mined in the future. And what a movement that will be.

By the way, the MIT Technology Review calls Reality Mining as one of the 10 technologies that we think are most likely to change the way we live. Exciting, Ain’t it ?

Also Surprise Modeling which combines data mining and machine learning to help people do a better job of anticipating and coping with unusual events is also one of the Top 10 Technologies listed by MIT Tech Review. This is being advocated by Eric Horvitz, Microsoft Research.

From the article on Reality Mining -

Reality mining, he says, “is all about paying attention to patterns in life and using that information to help [with] things like setting privacy patterns, sharing things with people, notifying people–basically, to help you live your life.”

Within the next few years, Pentland predicts, reality mining will become more common, thanks in part to the proliferation and increasing sophistication of cell phones. Many handheld devices now have the processing power of low-end desktop computers, and they can also collect more varied data, thanks to devices such as GPS chips that track location. And researchers such as Pentland are getting better at making sense of all that information.

To create an accurate model of a person’s social network, for example, Pentland’s team combines a phone’s call logs with information about its proximity to other people’s devices, which is continuously collected by Bluetooth sensors. With the help of factor analysis, a statistical technique commonly used in the social sciences to explain correlations among multiple variables, the team identifies patterns in the data and translates them into maps of social relationships. Such maps could be used, for instance, to accurately categorize the people in your address book as friends, family members, acquaintances, or coworkers. In turn, this information could be used to automatically establish privacy settings–for instance, allowing only your family to view your schedule. With location data added in, the phone could predict when you would be near someone in your network. In a paper published last May, ­Pentland and his group showed that cell-phone data enabled them to accurately model the social networks of about 100 MIT students and professors. They could also precisely predict where subjects would meet with members of their networks on any given day of the week.

@ctive Data Warehousing aka Closed Loop Processing

Active Data Warehousing isn’t really a buzzword. Its been in the industry for a while. Thanks to Teradata who made this buzzword popular. They called it @ctive Data Warehousing and branded the spelling.

The reason to bring back this term is because -

Teradata Corporation (NYSE: TDC), the global leader in enterprise data warehousing, announced today that Highmark Inc., the largest health insurer in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the U.S., continues to expand its Teradata Warehouse and its multiple-terabyte information assets. The large-scale analytics expansion increases the company’s production environment and supports the shift to active data warehousing (ADW).

For newbies, here’s more about ACtive Data Warehousing from DM Review of April 2004(yep, its 4 years old enough) -

Active data warehousing is a process, not a specific technology. Teradata has popularized the term “active data warehousing,” tried to brand the spelling “@ctive data warehousing” and deserves credit for providing examples of some big, successful active data warehouses. However, if a more generic term is preferred, then “closed-loop processing” is a useful synonym, though it only partially captures the concept. Your data warehouse (DW) is active if

It represents a single, canonical state of the business (version of the truth). Too often, companies put data into a data warehouse and also store it in a plethora of other data stores. If a data warehouse must be match-merged with dependent data marts to provide needed information, then it is a potentially useful data store, but it is not active.

It supports a mixed workload. The workload of an active data warehouse will typically consist of tactical inquires executing concurrently with complex business intelligence (BI) queries and trickle updates. If the DW is used only for operational queries such as customer transactions or product inventory, it is not active.

Operational processing is driven by the DW. Active data warehouses do not exist in a vacuum. They exist in a processing loop.
The “outbound” activity goes from the data warehouse to the operational system by means of automated system mechanisms including triggers, special purpose programming interfaces, a message broker and an extract, transform and load (ETL) tool – though the ETL tool is not often used for outbound activities. If the data warehouse doesn’t deliver information automatically to operational systems, then it is not active. Manual intervention gets the job done, but the DW is not active.

It represents a closed-loop process. In particular, the data warehouse is used to optimize processing in the upstream operational or transactional system. The operational systems feed the data warehouse which, in turn, feeds back to the operational system to optimize the relevant transactional processing. The interfaces go in both directions. The data warehouse provides operational intelligence and, as active, can properly be described as driving operational processing.

The Core Performance Management Vendors for 2008

Yes, all the ones whom you think about are there. No Misses. Good Going !!

Read More about each of these vendors on the story.

There are 9 vendors on the core list for 2008, same number as last year. This may surprise some people after all of the mergers and resulting consolidation of 2007. The fact is that some vendors that were not on this list before have now made it because of their acquisitions. Therefore, while the number is the same, the names of the vendors on the list have changed quite a bit. In addition, some smaller vendors that have been around for awhile have broadened their product set or customer base or both and now merit inclusion. Here now, in alphabetical order, are the core performance management vendors for 2008.

Adaptive Planning
Clarity Systems
Longview systems

The Johnsson Group Expands Business Intelligence Capabilities

From the Press Release -

The Johnsson Group, in conjunction with WMG Capital, announces the acquisition of CenterStone Solutions LLC along with its affiliate Jesita Consulting Group (JCG). Both CenterStone and JCG are technology services firms that focus on the deployment of business intelligence and performance management solutions.

Both firms will join the Business Intelligence and Analytics service line of The Johnsson Group (TJG), a consulting firm focused on finance and business operations improvement. This acquisition significantly strengthens TJG’s position in the business intelligence and analytics arena and makes it one of the leading services providers in the areas of Performance Management, including: Enterprise Planning, Business Intelligence Reporting, Scorecarding and Analytical solutions.

SAS 2007 Total Revenue Up 15%

Well that’s generally a good news for BI industry especiall the upcoming modelling business. Read More -

Business Intelligence (BI) provider SAS reported a 15% increase in its total revenue for 2007, bringing its total revenue for the year to USD 2.15 billion and citing the intense demand for analytics-powered BI as the primary reason for its growth.

BI applications accounted for 29 percent of SAS’ 2007 revenue.

“We are not seeing a downward trend,” Goodnight noted.

”Our enterprise intelligence platform, deep analytics and industry solutions set us apart from other BI vendors that specialise in query and reporting applications.”

Asia Pacific was seen as the strongest performing region, more than doubling in size in the past five years, according to SAS. The region contributed 11 percent to the worldwide revenue with 322 new customers in 2007.

Papa Gino’s uses Business Intelligence on Pizza Delivery

Not a suprising story for a BI professional but certainly very interesting read. Good to see BI spreading to all types of businesses.

Read the story at Computer World -

Valle says Papa Gino’s began considering BI tools about two years ago. Early last year, the chain chose the Cognos 8 product line and began installing the software.

Customer satisfaction levels improve, he says, if pizza buyers are given more accurate delivery times, even if the time window they’re given is longer — maybe 30 minutes as opposed to 20. He adds that Papa Gino’s could already tell from the point-of-sale system at a restaurant what time an individual order was received, when the customer was promised delivery, when the employee making the delivery left the store and when he or she returned. But before the BI tools became available, that information was stored in spreadsheets and was hard to access.

Papa Gino’s executives now use Cognos 8 to analyse the data and look for exceptions, both positive and negative, in an effort to improve delivery-time estimates. Valle says he thinks the analysis results will help show restaurant managers how to ensure that customer expectations are set correctly, and possibly how to speed up deliveries.

Teradata Earns Awards from Magazines

Teradata is ranked in the top 10 list of business intelligence providers in the Annual Consumer Goods Technology Reader’s Choice. The ranking is based on customer experience as reported by consumer goods executives to an independent third party. An IDC study called “Taming Information Chaos,” issued in November, puts business decision-making throughout the world at a critical crossroads, with business intelligence technology now an important component in differentiating between leading and average companies.

Teradata was also listed in Food Logistics magazine’s FL100, an annual listing of the Top 100 technology suppliers to the food industry. The FL100 lists technology and solution providers that transform the food supply chain, including food, beverage and consumer packaged goods manufacturers, distributors, grocery wholesalers and third-party logistics providers.

More here.

BO Announces Industry’s First Intelligence Platform

Should try to get my hands on this next version soon. Seems like a fine platform.

Here’s more from the official press release -

Business intelligence has traditionally focused on the most easily obtainable data: process-centric ‘structured’ information – numbers and text stored in internal databases – analyzed by a select group of data analysts and shared among slices of isolated user communities. With BusinessObjects XI 3.0, all information will be accessible to people throughout the organization and their extended business network. According to a recent survey of 154 global C-level executives conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by Business Objects, less than one in 10 corporate executives believe they have the right information needed to make critical business decisions. BusinessObjects XI 3.0 gives businesspeople the confidence to know their data is clean, and the ability to link it back to its source, so information is easily auditable, accurate and trustworthy.

BusinessObjects XI 3.0 is the first and only BI platform with integrated text analysis, allowing the thoughts and opinions of customers and other people found in unstructured sources such as the Web, notes fields and emails to be easily incorporated into business intelligence and decision making. BusinessObjects XI 3.0 also provides the first platform that delivers BI-ready consumable external information on demand, from the de facto leader in software-as-a-service (SaaS) BI. For example, by using BusinessObjects XI 3.0-ready reports and metrics from sources such as Thomson Financial and Dun & Bradstreet, organizations can compare and track key performance metrics against their direct competitors and the overall market.

Data Modelling – Pros and Cons

How to insulate an organization against change – Data Modelling. Read more on its Pros and Cons.

Industry experts concur — to a degree. For one thing, says veteran data warehouse architect Mark Madsen, a principal with consultancy Third Nature and author of Clickstream Data Warehousing, what proponents such as Kalido and Sybase mean by “judicious” use of a data modeling tool takes an awful lot for granted.

“It presupposes that if you have all of your systems’ data models in a tool, then changes that are imposed will be easy,” he says, citing system changes, upgrades, and merger/acquisition activity that brings new systems into the fold as three among many common disruptions. “That’s like saying that because you have a map of outer Mongolia, a trip from one side to the other will be a simple matter of driving.”

Madsen isn’t entirely dismissive, just skeptical. “I accept that having the data models together and linked will help things like compliance efforts. For example, Visa [requires] that you control access to all databases that contain credit card numbers,” he acknowledges, “but that also presupposes that the models are somehow kept up to date, something that is generally pretty unlikely and usually a manual process.”

Users positive about Microsoft’s PerformancePoint Server 2007

Read more at TDWI News

Six months later, the former prediction seems to have prevailed. Microsoft-centric integrators and IT pros are highly enthused about the PerformancePoint product: many are already working with it — some in production environments — while others are anxious to put it through its paces in their own environments.

“Combining PerformancePoint Server with Reporting Services and Excel provides a delivery mechanism that encompasses just about everyone in the organization. I find it to be an incredibly powerful tool,” Craig Utley, a mentor with Solid Quality Mentors and a former program manager with the SQL Customer Advisory Team at Microsoft, told Enterprise Strategies. Like many PerformancePoint boosters, Utley is a big proponent of Microsoft’s all-in-one BI stack.

“I find the current Microsoft BI stack to be the most comprehensive suite out there. Integration Services serves many needs beyond just BI, but for BI it’s incredibly flexible. It contains a number of powerful transformations and the ability to write custom transformations in .NET makes it virtually unlimited,” he comments.