Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Forrester: Mighty Mashups

James Kobielus, an analyst at Forrester Research, recently published Mighty Mashups: Do-It-Yourself Business Intelligence For The New Economy.

Jim does a pretty good job covering the inefficiencies and bottlenecks that mashup can address, and he touches the same points as Business Case for Data Mashup. Jim then goes on to list the "principal data mashup functions", including source-virtualization, publishing, and collaboration. At this point, I'm onboard and agree with everything he's saying.

Then, as Forrester is wont to do, they make sure to emphasize governance and the role that IT plays in securing the component data sources in a mashup environment. I'm still with him, and this got me thinking again about the relationship between IT and self-service.

Next, Jim lays out the Maturity Model, and I'm impressed. His characterization of the 4 levels of BI mashup make a lot of sense, and I'm thinking that this paper is building up to a ringing endorsement of InetSoft as being the only vendor who enables the whole spectrum.

Okay, let's calm down and take a step back. Kobielus explains that BI mashup isn't a panacea, and it may not fit your organization if your employees' personalities don't mesh with the self-service culture. I buy that, because I've seen it firsthand.

Then, strangely, Jim says, "Evaluate BI solutions for their integration of in-memory OLAP engines, semantic virtualization, EII, and other core mashup features." And there's a table with 4 columns: in-memory BI client; data virtualization/EII; interactive browser-based visualization; and automated source discovery. Where is this coming from?

I'm happy that InetSoft was one of only 6 vendors chosen to occupy this table (13 were interviewed), but the first and last criteria aren't on the same level as the middle two. In-memory data processing is nice (we also leverage this technique), and I'm sure that if automated source discovery works it can save a little upfront setup time, but I don't understand why these are given equal weight with the two halves of BI mashup (data mashup, and presentation mashup). What happened to governance and collaboration? I think these would be more appropriate as high level criteria.

Jim ends the paper on a high note by detailing a few best practices for organizations considering adding self-service capabilities: enforce governance; make a culture-shift; consider different roles; and enable collaboration.

Overall, it's a good paper, and validates many of the things that I've been saying for a while. I'm going to dismiss the minor digression, and focus on the overall lesson: BI mashup means providing maximal self-service, which is the fastest way to see bottom-line benefits from business intelligence.