Friday, April 30, 2010

Agile BI, Not Automatic BI

Forrester's Boris Evelson recently published a paper introducing "Agile BI" with the same definition we've been pushing for years:
  1. Faster initial development
  2. React more quickly to changing requirements
The rest of the paper goes on to discuss "metadata-generated BI" which is "one such example of a new technology supporting Agile BI". These metadata-generated BI applications essentially do the same work a traditional BI environment requires (building a data warehouse), but much of it is automated. I look forward to hearing from Boris about other Agile BI technologies, because Automated BI doesn't thrill me.

By automating the initial data work, I'm sure a lot of time and effort is saved, but you may not get what you want. This is where an application like ours steps in. Instead of doing the same old thing faster, we take a new approach. We support Agile BI by eliminating the upfront effort of creating a Data Warehouse, and instead providing Data Mashup. When you have the application (reports and dashboards) designed the way you want it, then you can setup a Data Grid Cache to make it perform better. By having the data transformation be virtual, it is much faster to create and much easier to change. The tools mentioned in the paper automate the ETL work based on the metadata, before reports and dashboards are created. We automate the ETL work after the reports and dashboards are created, and only if desired.

Apparently some of these tools will also automatically generate reports based on the data. Again, is the saved effort worth anything if the finished product is not what the users want? By providing our web-based drag-and-drop tools for both interactive data visualization and publishing-quality reports, we help our customers create exactly what they want, and more efficiently than traditional tools.

Metadata-generated BI is the same old-world monolith, automated. It eliminates much of the work, and unfortunately much of the intelligence, from the process. The BI world needs better tools for skilled humans, not the same tools in the hands of robots.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Data Visualization in a Mashed-Up World

I've been invited to participate in a DMRadio round table about visualization and mashup. If you're interested, please visit this site to register.