A Tale of Two Hashtags

Scheduling the Tableau user conference the same week as the SAP BusinessObjects conference was pure genius.

ASUG SBOUC 2013 Banner

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us,
we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven,
we were all going direct the other way…

from A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens

Howard Dresener.

Wayne Eckerson.

Claudia Imhoff.

William McKnight.

Neil Raden.

What do these names have in common? They are all thought leaders for analytics and business intelligence. And last week, all were at the 2013 Tableau Customer Conference (#TCC13) in Washington, D.C.- not the 2013 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference (#SBOUC2013) in Anaheim, California.

Cindy Howson (@BIScorecard) gets extra credit for spending time at both conferences, including a book signing at #SBOUC2013.

 

Ms. Howson estimated around 4,000 attendees at #TCC13.

Tableau estimated around 3,000 attendees at #TCC13.

George Peck the Crystal Reports guru is now George Peck the Tableau guru.

Let’s not mention Tableau for the Mac.

 

And don’t even get me started on Nate Silver and Walter Isaacson, just two of the keynote speakers at #TCC13. Don’t tease me with “Nate Silver is coming to SAP TechEd” next month in Las Vegas because I- like many SAP BusinessObjects customers- cannot justify the expense of two back-to-back conferences.

ASUG keeps a tight lid on conference attendance statistics, but the guestimates floating around the #SBOUC2013 conference were between 1,000 and 1,200 attendees. Is conference attendance a leading indicator or a lagging indicator of a software vendor’s fortunes? Any way you look at it, the current momentum is clearly in Tableau’s favor.

Many at #SBOUC2013 referred to this year’s conference as a family reunion. And it truly is a tight-knit family of analytics professionals. But while the number of new faces at this year’s speaker reception was impressive, the family clearly isn’t taking any cues from the reality TV Dugger family.

With the recent release of the BI 4.1 platform, in-memory technology platforms like Sybase IQ and HANA, the forthcoming SAP Lumira 1.12 (Mac edition, anyone?), and an energized and reorganized leadership team under Steve Lucas, the situation at SAP isn’t all gloom and doom. To be clear, there are a lot of initiatives under way that won’t be visible to the public until next year. But any decision making about future conferences should be sober and fact-based. Conference attendance figures clearly qualify as facts. As a new member of the ASUG BusinessObjects Advisory Council, I hope I’ll have the opportunity to work with both ASUG and SAP in 2014 to reach what is still the largest community of business intelligence users.

What are your thoughts on this year’s ASUG SBOUC conference and its attendance numbers?

The Quick and Dirty Guide to SAP BusinessObjects Training

Guidance from SAP on business intelligence education.

Students learning at computer

SAP trainers Martha Thieme and Antonio Soto have posted The Quick and Dirty Guide to SAP BusinessObjects Training on the SAP Community Network- a helpful summary of the courses available for SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0.

True story: Martha and I worked at the same company 10 years ago and she was my instructor for Universe Design on classic version 5.1.

Curiosity Killed the Cloud

Overwhelming interest in Tableau is overwhelming servers.

Tableau Public servers are overwhelmed

 

Tableau Software, the now-publically traded darling (NYSE symbol DATA) of the data visualization industry, has a lot of curious prospective users. But overwhelming curiosity translates into overwhelming traffic for their servers. I was hoping to use Tableau Public to see what it could do with a Microsoft Excel export my Google Analytics (Tableau Desktop can connect directly to Google Analytics but (free) Tableau Public is more limited). I was greeted with the following message.

Saving to Tableau Public is temporarily unavailable.

Due to overwhelming traffic on our servers, saving to Tableau Public is temporarily disabled. We appreciate your patience as we work to get this fixed. Please try again later.

No doubt Tableau puts more cloud horsepower behind its new paid offering, Tableau Online. But I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in having concerns about availability of cloud services.

In any case, I’m sure it feels nice to be wanted.

Tableau 8 Roadshow

Notes from the Tableau 8 Roadshow

Last week, I attended the Tableau 8 Roadshow in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. Having experienced the Tableau Experience a few months ago (see related article The Tableau Experience), I wanted to see first hand what was going on with the latest release. After all, Tableau- as well other data discovery tools like Tibco Spotfire and Qlik- is the raison d’être for SAP Visual Intelligence- now rebranded as SAP Lumira.

After registering and receiving a name badge, I was handed a booklet entitled “Eight great things about Tableau 8”. I took my seat and quickly turned to the first page.

Analyze anywhere with web and mobile authoring.

Wow.

And by web and mobile authoring, Tableau means a single architecture built on HTML 5 that works in “any browser”, be it desktop or mobile. Suddenly, the other seven reasons why somebody should buy the software didn’t matter to me anymore.

Tableau 8 Road Show 400

 

 

Gutting the BusinessObjects sales and pre-sales force shortly after the 2008 acquisition sure seemed like a shrewd cost-cutting move at the time. But in hindsight, it could be more accurately described as a revenue cutting move for SAP, as the ranks of a very energized Tableau organization are filled with “former BusinessObjects” folks. Indeed, the Tableau sales consultant that demoed Tableau 8 last week was part of the team that demoed SAP BusinessObjects XI R1 during the “eXtreme Insight World Tour” in another Cincinnati hotel back in 2005.

Road Show BusinessObjects XI R1 2005 400

And it shows in the demos. At both events that I attended, demos never explicitly begin with “let me show you something BusinessObjects can’t do well that Tableau does with ease”. But that does seem to be the overall theme.

Analyze anywhere with web and mobile authoring… Mmmm… Oh, sorry. I must have been daydreaming…

Tableau is much more than just data discovery software, just as Starbucks is much more than a $4 latte. Tableau, like Starbucks, is an entire experience, built on the foundation of their “Land and Expand” sales strategy. Because Tableau is a single-license desktop tool, it’s easy to install and easy to purchase. Without the blessing of corporate IT. Which, by the way, is never openly mocked but neither is portrayed as a necessary component of the Tableau experience.

At the event, I sat next to a friend who works in the BI Competency Center for a large multinational manufacturer. Although SAP BusinessObjects is their BI standard, Tableau is beginning to appear on corporate desktops. He had this to say.

I like the Tableau tool and it’s usability, but I walked away with an even bigger feeling that SAP is missing the boat. Or maybe SAP is the ship, and the Tableau boat is running circles around the ship? I have to think more on that.

I was really looking forward to the hands on demos, but unfortunately had to leave early and get back to my work responsibilities. But like my friend, I am continuing to think a lot more about Tableau and its effect on the BI landscape.

Resources

Did you attend the Tableau 8 Roadshow? How is data discovery software changing your BI landscape?

The Tableau Experience

My first Tableau Experience.

Tableau: noun ˈta-ˌblō, ta-ˈblō

  1. A striking and vivid representation; a picture.
  2. A vivid graphic scene of a group of people arranged as in a painting.
  3. An analytics software vendor that is driving the established vendors crazy

source: Wiktionary

I have been living the BusinessObjects Experience for the past decade. Last week, I spent a few hours immersed in The Tableau Experience, Tableau Software‘s roadshow. The event was held at the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. I have no doubt that the location was chosen carefully to underscore the event’s key message. A hotel designed “to make contemporary art a part of more peoples’ daily lives” was an appropriate venue for a business analytics vendor “on a mission to help people see and understand data.” It was a stark contrast to typically bland vendor presentations at bland corporate hotels. The Tableau Experience was also an interesting juxtaposition to ASUG Developer Tools Day, held the following day at Northern Kentucky University.

The presenter, coincidentally a former sales consultant from SAP, spoke passionately about using data to “tell a story”. It reminded me of Infomersion’s original Xcelsius marketing theme of “stealing the show“. Clearly an analytics vendor on the offensive, there wasn’t much emphasis defending Tableau’s reputation against its bigger rivals or mentioning them by name. Still, I had to chuckle to myself when the presenter quickly demonstrated how easy it was to create customized groupings. You know, like the grouping button in SAP’s retired Desktop Intelligence that still hasn’t been ported to Web Intelligence? The emphasis underpinning all of the demonstrations was that you, regardless of your technical skill, could visualize your data with great speed. Speed was not only a reference to Tableau’s in-memory engine, but a person’s ability to do things themselves. While corporate IT departments were embraced rather than openly mocked, everyone understood that “doing things yourself” meant that you weren’t waiting for corporate IT.

Simplicity was also a key theme of The Tableau Experience. Tableau offers one primary user application: Tableau Desktop. It’s complemented by enterprise (Tableau Server) and cloud (Tableau Public) offerings. In addition, there is a free desktop viewer application and a free mobile application for iOS and Android.

SAP Visual Intelligence (now SAP Lumira), SAP’s new data discovery tool is an interesting tool that combines the visual capabilities of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer with the data engine of Sybase IQ. But it’s best understood as a direct response to Tableau (and other niche BI vendors like Qlik and Tibco) rather than a direct response to the analytic needs of business users. It may be liberating for business users to hear that SAP Visual Intelligence isn’t tied to the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 platform. But many of SAP’s existing customers are deeply tied to the platform and its disparate collection of design tools. They need the BI platform to support their existing as well as future business intelligence initiatives. And after five support packs applied to the BI 4.0 platform, many of these customers are still waiting for a functionally cohesive and stable solution.

With native connections to SAP BW, SAP HANA, and SAP Sybase IQ, I’m sure that many of SAP’s traditional ERP customers are looking closely at Tableau. With native connections to a long list of other data sources, I’m sure that many of SAP’s traditional BusinessObjects customers are also looking closely. And IT organizations that have standardized on SAP BusinessObjects may be surprised to learn that their business users are already using Tableau, a testament to Tableau’s “land and expand” sales strategy (see Tableau Thrives in Providing Visual Discovery for Business Analytics by Tony Cosentino, Ventana Research).

As a long-time user of SAP BusinessObjects, I left Tableau’s presentation wondering why SAP thinks yet another tool is the solution to customers’ analytics challenges instead of continuous innovation in existing tools like Web Intelligence.

I doubt that I’m alone.

What are your thoughts on The Tableau Experience?

My Monster Data Quality Problem

Last week, I experienced a Monster data quality problem.

Last week, I experienced a Monster data quality problem.

I received a panicked phone call from Monster, the career web site, letting me know that I had a rogue profile with an incorrect phone number.  That number now belonged to another person that was so besieged by recruiter calls that they changed their voice mail message telling callers that they weren’t me.

So I logged into Monster’s web site for the first time in years.  Years!  Ditto for Dice. Not only was my profile “up to date” with correct information, but all of my resumes were in a “private” state. So why was anybody getting deluged with recruiter calls? And why did Monster need my approval before being helpful?

I was able to get answers once I returned the call to Monster customer service. Turns out that I had flirted with using Yahoo Hot Jobs many years ago. Monster acquired Hot Jobs in 2010 but only recently integrated its resumes into its master database. The offending profile had my correct name and home address, but an incorrect phone number and obsolete email address. So I apparently ended up with two profiles, not one, because the profiles were integrated using only the email address. I’m highly skeptical that my original Hot Jobs profile was “live” before it was integrated, so I can only assume that my Hot Jobs profile was erroneously set to active during the integration process.

Monster could have done a better job of integrating resume profiles. If I were Monster, I would have sent an email to each Hot Jobs member telling them to “opt-in” to integrating their profiles. In my case, Monster would have learned that my Hot Jobs email was invalid and could have chosen to not integrate my Hot Jobs profile. If I were part of Monster’s integration team, I would have recommended making a second pass through the Hot Jobs database looking for profiles that matched on physical address, not just email address.

My old profile? Deleted by a helpful Monster customer service representative. And my old phone number? Hasn’t been mine in over five years. While I’m sorry that somebody else is getting recruiter calls, I’m thankful that I don’t have to talk to people desperate enough to call me about a six-year-old resume.

Monster recently announced a layoff of 7-percent of their full-time work force, stating “”We are in a very confused period in terms of whether the economy will stay status-quo or improve or deteriorate further.” But I wonder if sites like LinkedIn are more directly responsible for their woes.

Do you have a Monster/Hot Jobs data quality problem? Are sites like Monster and Dice still relevant to job seekers? Has LinkedIn pushed them over the edge?

SAP Business Intelligence Resolutions for 2012

Much has changed in the past year, but my new year’s resolutions from last year still seem relevant.

Last week, I began a new project helping a customer upgrade from SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 SP2 to SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 (BI4). We’re having multiple discussions about which content needs to be moved over, old content and users that need hauled to the curb, the “best practices” that need to continue, and the “worst practices” that need to die. This customer came from “legacy Crystal Enterprise”, which thankfully means that there’s no Desktop Intelligence- roughly 80% Crystal Reports and 20% Web Intelligence. Explorer BW Accelerated and Dashboards are on a BI4 pilot box that’s about ready to go into a small production period before the “big” BI4 environment is ready. Teradata 13. All good stuff.

I’ve been poking through the XI 3.1 Central Management Console (CMC) to decide what should be purged or ignored before running the Upgrade Management Tool into a validation environment. I’m also trying to see if there are any policies or procedures that are evident from the CMC that haven’t been discussed in our kickoff meetings.

I re-read my SAP Business Intelligence Resolutions for 2011 post from last year (available here) to see if it would jumpstart my brain on anything I might have overlooked. At least for 2012, the ten resolutions I mentioned are still good advice, with just a few tweaks.

1. Upgrade or retire older SAP BusinessObjects and Crystal Enterprise versions

Still valid. If you’re not planning to adopt BI 4.0 in 2012, you at least need to get to XI 3.1. Earlier versions of the platform are no longer supported by SAP. And your IT department is bringing in new PCs preloaded with Windows 7 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, the latter requiring SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 Service Pack 5 (SP5) or higher (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects Support for Windows 7) . Check your current BusinessObjects version’s Product Availability Matrix (PAM) to see where it falls short before the help desk calls start pouring in.

2. Halt all active Desktop Intelligence development

Still good advice. It’s like a smoking cessation program for your business intelligence system.

3. Audit existing Desktop Intelligence reports with an eye toward retirement

Still good advice.

If your team retired all Desktop Intelligence last year, make sure you take time to celebrate the milestone. Oh, and shut down the Desktop Intelligence Cache, Processing, and Job servers.

4. Create a project plan and time line to retire all Desktop Intelligence reports

Ditto.

5. Replace cumbersome advanced rights with custom Access Levels

The system I’m currently working with has a combination of advanced rights and custom access levels. I’m assuming that the former go back to Crystal Enterprise or XI R2. On my current project, I’m going to make the case to replace advanced rights in the BI4 validation environment before moving projects into production with the Life Cycle Manager (LCM).

5. Revisit Active Directory or LDAP authentication

Still good advice. My current project is already 100% LDAP.

6. Celebrate diversity

Last year, I encouraged Web Intelligence users to look at Crystal Reports and vice versa. This year, I would extend that to include Analysis (4.0), Xcelsius/Dashboards, and Explorer. If you’re not using these tools already, take an executive sponsor to lunch and plan a pilot, no matter how small, for 2012. Are your C-level executives roaming the halls with tablets? It’s time to do mobile pilot as well.

I’ve noticed that a lot of organizations, both large and small, are hesitant to deploy desktop software to end users. This means no Web Intelligence Rich Client/Desktop, Live Office, Analysis for Microsoft Office (4.0 only), or Xcelsius/Dashboards. But all of these tools extend the usefulness of Microsoft Excel, your users’ favorite BI tool. Read that last sentence again – I’ll wait for you. I recognize the deployment challenges of desktop applications (I frequently hear that Frank in desktop support is a real pain to work with), but you are missing a huge opportunity to meet your users where they live. I hope to tackle this topic with more depth in a future blog post.

On the browser-only front, remember that SAP BusinessObjects Explorer can visualize Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, not just universes and accelerated SAP BW.

7. Create a BI steering committee

Still good on this one, I think. Has anyone presented at the annual ASUG conference about this topic?

8. Read Wayne Eckerson’s Performance Dashboards

What I said last year:

Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business is the single best business intelligence book that I’ve encountered. It’s comprehensive, vendor-neutral, and should be read and discussed by both IT and business professionals in your organization.

Wayne’s book is still my favorite “if you only have time to read only one book”, regardless of whether you are a business user or a techie. If you disagree, or have another “must read” BI book, I’d love to hear about it.

The intrepid BI manager will grab the key people on their team, a similar number of power users and executives, cater in lunch once a week (Panera Bread is really good for this), and have a book club for no more than a dozen folks. Tackle one chapter a week. No food throwing during the “Why the business and IT mistrust each other” chapter, please.

9. Start an internal user group

I’m still a huge believer in internal user groups and will be dedicating a huge chunk of my user adoption presentation to them at the upcoming SAP Insider BI 2012 conference.

10. Join ASUG

Yes, I know. Somebody in your organization is going to have to dig into their wallet. But there’s great value in the local chapter meetings, the webcasts, and influence councils. And don’t tell your funding source, but the annual ASUG SAP BusinessObjects conference (SBOUC) is at Walt Disney World (see related article, 2012 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference). Shhhh! Membership details are available here.

So how did I do? Is there something on your team’s new year’s resolutions that I’ve missed? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Business Intelligence Lessons from Netflix – Part Two

Despite some missteps and a thorough hammering by technology writers and customers alike, we can still learn from Netflix.

In part one of Business Intelligence Lessons from Netflix (see related article, Business Intelligence Lessons from Netflix – Part One), I shared a negative lesson about what Netflix is doing “wrong”. In this post, I’d like to look at something that Netflix is doing right. I figured now would be a good time to finally finish this article since Netflix has been declared “broken” (see related CNET article, Netflix is ‘broken’ with no fix in sight) and it’s stock price is spiralling downward.

No, I’m not going to talk about pricing. And I’m not going to talk about selection. Let’s talk about accessibility. You can watch Netflix virtually anywhere. You can watch Netflix on the three popular gaming consoles: Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii. You can watch Netflix from an Internet connected HDTV or Blu Ray player. You can watch Netflix on your phone or tablet. You can watch Netflix from a dedicated television appliance like Apple TV, Roku, and Tivo.

Have you thought about all the technology required to make this possible? Ryan Lawler has and wrote an interesting article about Netflix’s innovative use of WebKit and HTML5 (see related GigaOm article, How Netflix uses WebKit and HTML5 for TV devices).

Netflix currently has three tiers of devices based on their configurations, with the lowest tier having zero animation and small cache sizes. On the top end, devices have animations, large cache sizes and frequent pre-fetching of data. According to the presentation, all devices start in the middle tier and are then throttled up or down based on performance.

What are the lessons for business intelligence? Analytics anywhere! For the past year we’ve heard SAP’s co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagermann Snabe talk about “on-premise, on-demand and on-device”.

SAP BusinessObjects can deliver business intelligence to a web browser, to an email inbox, to Microsoft Excel, to the HDTV hanging from the wall in your distribution center, or to a mobile device. But it can only do these things if enabled by you, the organizations that deploy SAP BusinessObjects.

I’ve noticed a bit of reluctance in IT organizations. Mobile? Nope, nobody has asked us for that. We’ll wait until they do and then tell our users that they’ll have to wait months for us to implement a project. Web Intelligence Desktop (formerly Rich Client)? Live Office? Nope, that’s client software. We don’t deploy that here (despite the fact that Microsoft Excel is, um, client software).

Just as Netflix doesn’t care if you own a Nintendo Wii or an Apple TV, you shouldn’t care if your users prefer browsers or spreadsheets. What you should care about is if they are basing their decision making on an accurate, single version of the truth. If your C-level executives carry iPads, you had better carry one, too.  If your users live in Microsoft Excel, decide if Web Intelligence Desktop, Live Office, Analysis edition for Microsoft Office or some combination best meets their needs. Meet your users where they live and give them a tailored experience for their preferred environment.

What steps are you taking to deploy Netflix, uh, I mean, business intelligence everywhere?  Share your thoughts below.

Read Part One of Business Intelligence Lessons from Netflix

SAP BusinessObjects Resume Tips

Five tips that can improve your SAP BusinessObjects resume/CV.

Earlier this year, I shared my opinions on SAP BusinessObjects branding and said that there were steps that “BusinessObjects professionals [should] take to update their resume (known as a Curriculum Vitae or CV in other parts of the world) and their own personal brands” (see related article, Whistling Past the Brand Graveyard with BusinessObjects). I shared these steps recently for an internal company seminar on resume building and interviewing. Much resume advice is subjective, but here are five tips that I believe can improve your resume.

1. SAP-ify your resume

Prior to SAP’s acquisition of Business Objects in 2008, “Business Objects” with a space was the name of the company and “BusinessObjects” (no space) was the name of the (then) flagship reporting tool. After SAP’s acquisition, the brand became “SAP BusinessObjects”. The proper way (circa 2011) to refer to the business intelligence platform is:

SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2
SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.0
SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1
SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0
SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1
SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2

A similar change has taken place with Crystal Reports, which is now called SAP Crystal Reports.

Making this change has the added benefit of increasing the SAPS rating of your resume. You’ll benefit from having the “SAP” keyword on your resume even if you’ve never touched an SAP ERP application. See Dave Rathbun’s related article entitled SAP + Business Objects Skills – Do They Exist?

2. Avoid abbreviations

In a resume (or even a presentation), avoid the use of abbreviations. A pet peeve of mine is the usage of “Deski” and “Webi”. An insider knows what these terms are, but in my opinion it is better to spell them out as “Desktop Intelligence” and “Web Intelligence”. If you’re not comfortable going cold turkey on abbreviations, feel free to use the abbreviation in parenthesis the first time you use the full product name. For example:

John Doe has over twelve years of experience creating reports with Desktop Intelligence (Deski).

Used the Central Management Console (CMC) and Central Configuration Manager (CCM) to do super neato administrator stuff.

A benefit to using both the full product name and its abbreviation is that many resumes are electronically scanned and screened for keywords. Using both terms increases your resume’s chances of making the first cut.

3. Use new product names when possible

This year, several products or components were renamed as part of the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 release. Similar to my approach with abbreviations, I like to use the new name first then add the old name in parenthesis. Here are some examples:

For the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator project, Marvin created three universes using the Universe Design Tool (Designer) and 32 reports using Web Intelligence (Webi).

Created six dashboards using SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 (Xcelsius)

Created three dashboards using SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 (formerly Xcelsius)

4. Consider dropping unsupported or obsolete products

As time goes on, products are pruned from the SAP BusinessObjects product suite. You might want to consider editing your resume to remove obsolete product references from your job descriptions.  For example:

Configured Broadcast Agent 5.5 for nightly and monthly report scheduling.

might become

Configured nightly and monthly report schedules using administrator tool.

Some obsolete products that you might want to consider eliminating are Broadcast Agent, Crystal Reports Explorer, Desktop Intelligence, Performance Manager, and Supervisor.

5. Stress the business value of your business intelligence

Whenever possible, mention the value of your contributions to the business. Sometimes the value is elusive, but if your universe increased self-service reporting, say so. Perhaps your efforts automate what used to take several hours or days of tedious manual activity. Be realistic and honest – not everybody can quantify that they saved the company billions of dollars. But some of you can. And should. Check out this helpful blog article by Patrick McKenzie, Don’t Call Yourself A Programmer, for inspiration.

For Additional Reading

What resume/curriculum vitae (CV) guidelines have you found helpful?  Please share your thoughts below.

Business Intelligence Symposium V

Notes from the Fifth Business Intelligence Symposium at the University of Cincinnati.

Lucrum Business Intelligence Symposium

The University of Cincinnati (U.C.) and Lucrum, Inc. sponsored their fifth Business Intelligence Symposium on September 14, 2011 at the U.C. Carl H. Linder College of Business. The theme was “The New World of Technology: Cockpits and Dashboards”.  The excellent group of keynote speakers included:

Filippo Passerini
Group President GBS & CIO, Proctor & Gamble (P&G)

Will Groneman
EVP System Development, TriHealth

John Ward
Director, Health Systems Integration, TriHealth

Jim Scott
CIO, KnowledgeWorks

After a networking lunch, there were three simultaneous breakouts from Mufaddal Frosh and Ted Wimmel of TriHealth, Jim Scott of KnowledgeWorks, and Mike Zeller of University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning (DAAP).

While all of the speakers were excellent, what I most remember is Filippo Passerini discussing business intelligence at Proctor & Gamble.  He shared that P&G simultaneously centralizes IT, yet embeds analytic experts directly into business units.  The “what” of business intelligence is old news – it’s available to everyone- and automated.  What P&G is now working on is making the “why” just as accessible.

I’m sure that somebody actually working on BI at P&G would tell me the scenario isn’t as rosy as portrayed at the symposium.  But in many organizations, the CEO and CIO aren’t even near the corporate BI system, despite its supposed importance to the organization.  It was very refreshing to see a CIO intimately acquainted and involved with corporate BI strategy and tying it to corporate business strategy.

The next Business Intelligence Symposium, tentatively titled Innovative Analytics, is scheduled for Tuesday, December 13, 2011.  It’s worth checking out if you practice business intelligence within a 2-3 hour drive of Cincinnati.