Blog: Jorgen Heizenberg http://beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/ Return on Intelligence I am happy to be part of the BeyeNETWORK team of thought leaders. I have a great interest in all things related to business intelligence, and I hope to blog about ways I see BI providing business value. In fact, I use a term, "return on intelligence," to describe the impact of delivering the right information, gathered from myriad sources, to a wide number of people which empowers them and their decision making. I truly believe in the value of BI, especially in this economic downturn. If you have examples of positive return on intelligence or have topics you would like me cover, please contact me via this blog or at Jorgen.Heizenberg@capgemini.com. Copyright 2011 Fri, 07 Jan 2011 08:11:36 -0700 http://www.movabletype.org/?v=4.261 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Super Fancy Sexy (again) Data Visualization HierarchyThose of you that know me or read my blog know that I am a strong advocate of visualization in Business Intelligence. I honestly belief that using images, charts, or other visual stimuli greatly helps users of a BI environment to quickly understand the data presented and work with it. I also think that great looking reports, dashboards or other BI products will be much more quickly accepted by business users if they just look nice. I often call this (within our Capgemini practice): It has to look super fancy sexy.Stephen Few is somebody who understand this and has written some great books about this as well (see http://www.perceptualedge.com/). Another believer is Hans Rosling with his Gapminder explorations (http://www.gapminder.org/). More recently I came across this website: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/. This is a nice website where you will soon discover that data-journalist Davic McCandless take data visualization serious. His Tetris like animation comparing the financial crisis with let’s say the fight against hunger in Africa is brilliant.Definitely something to check out if you have a couple of minutes. I strongly urge all BI professionals to work on a visual intelligence strategy and framework. 

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2011/01/super_fancy_sexy_again.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2011/01/super_fancy_sexy_again.php Fri, 07 Jan 2011 08:11:36 -0700
Business en IT samen in de wolken (Artikel, Dutch) Je kunt momenteel geen vakblad openslaan, internetdiscussie volgen of seminar bezoeken zonder dat er vragen worden gesteld over Cloud. Veel vragen komen voort uit het simpele feit dat mensen moeite lijken te hebben met Cloud als concept. Waarom kies ik voor Cloud, wanneer gaan we in de Cloud, waar liggen de voordelen en hoe zit het met de veiligheid op de Cloud? Al met al kun je wel zeggen dat er sprake is van een stevige hype. We willen het hebben, ook al weten we niet eens wat het is. Iedereen denkt er het zijne van en het gevolg is een overvloed van definities waarbij met name de verschillen in interpretatie tussen business en IT opvallen. En gemeenschappelijk element komt wel terug in al die definities, het gaat over ‘delen’ op n of ander niveau.Zie bijgaand artikel in de cloud special van DBMBusiness en IT samen in de wolken

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/12/business_en_it_samen_in_de_wolken_artikel_dutch.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/12/business_en_it_samen_in_de_wolken_artikel_dutch.php Wed, 08 Dec 2010 07:59:54 -0700
Go Offense: Data is an opportunity not an obstacle. BIg BIrd

Yesterday my 13 years old son asked me (on MSN  by the way) if I was familiar with the term ”Infobesity”? To be honest I had heard of it but was unsure about the correct definition so I had to look it up. It quickly found out (Google) that the word is a combination of Information and Obesity and describes the poor nutritional value of information and not so much the quantity.  As there is a tsunami of information available at our fingertips we no longer feel the need to learn things by heart. Instead we ‘eat’ the small snack food like information we get every second or so from facebook, twitter, blogs. One of the things I found out is that all words that have ever been spoken out loud by human beings can be stored in approximately 5 exabytes of data. This year(2010) we expect that about 12 exabytes of information will be produced . By the way, an Exabyte is one quintillion bytes or 1 billion gigabytes or 1 million terabytes or...

So if we look at this increase in data (or Big Data as it is often called) we see many organization take a defensive approach in dealing with this ‘problem’. As many complain about the performance (of getting data in but also of getting data out of the datawarehouse) or memory (”must be faster let’s use flash”, ”must be bigger buy extra”). As a result we see all kind of technology driven solutions to deal with this increase. The rise of the datawarehouse appliances (Teradata, Exadata, Neoview, Netezza just to name a few) are the best examples of this defensive thinking. We create big mean machines, that we can actually see and hug, to fight of this beastly increase of data.

This traditional application centric or technology driven approach has gotten us into trouble over and over again in the past. It has led to situations where the organizational information capabilities, such as decision making, are based on hindsight. The organization is reactive, responding to events that have occurred in the past. In nice and fancy consulting speak: it results into a low transformational capability. In plain English: ”What the ****  just happened to us?”.

 I very much prefer to take a more information centric approach to dealing with this data increase. This path will enable organizations to address not only the ”what” but also the ”why” and can even lead to a ”what if?”.

A recent study (http://sloanreview.mit.edu/new-intelligent-enterprise/report-analytics-the-new-path-to-value/?r=d&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=sm&utm_campaign=tnie-report) has showed that ”some executives remain overwhelmed by the well-documented ‘data deluge’ – 60% still say they ”have more information than we can effectively use. However this research also shows that leaders of the smartest organizations have moved past ”overwhelmed” and are already capitalizing on increased information richness and analytics to gain measurable competitive advantage”. It is about time that we start treating data not as an obstacle but as an opportunity. Let’s use this massive amounts of consumable materials and turn them into a strong offensive. Go team!

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/11/go_offense_data_is_an_opportunity_not_an_obstacle.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/11/go_offense_data_is_an_opportunity_not_an_obstacle.php Mon, 08 Nov 2010 13:38:08 -0700
OSBI: the battle of the Sexes Battle of the sexes

The renewed interest in open source Business Intelligence (Pentaho, Jaspersoft) could be considered as a clear counter reaction against the market domination due to (BI) vendor consolidation. Gartner in their 2010 Magic Quadrant BI paper come up with another explanation. They mention that ”economic conditions are driving interest in low-cost alternatives”. As a result ”organizations showed an increased willingness to consider open source for their enterprise BI platform deployments”. By the way, a lot of people think that Open Source also means for free. This is a misconception. But on the whole it does offer a lower TCO.

 Jaspersoft and Pentaho seem to be the two most likely open source BI vendors to be considered by organizations for this as their solutions seem to match those of the commercial BI vendors. Jaspersoft Enterprise Edition includes ETL capabilities from Talend but seem to be most popular for its reporting capabilities. Those capabilities include new web 2.0 functionality, drag and drop, a new meta data layer and Microsoft Windows and Office integration. Pentaho offers a more broader BI suite to its clients and has shown some cool innovations (BI for the Iphone) and strategic partnerships (Ingres, Inforbright).

So there seems to be as great potential in market growth for Open Source BI. At the one hand the industry analysts give a boost referring to the lower cost of ownership for Open Source BI and at the other hand the BI software market seems to be recovering showing a 10% growth in the Netherlands:(http://www.computable.nl/artikel/ict_topics/business_intelligence/3512364/1277145/bimarkt-is-terug-op-niveau-van-voor-de-crisis.html)

But still the battle remains and organizations feel that they have to choose between open or closed source BI, while in actuality both can coexist in any technical BI architecture.

So what is holding organizations back in the final adoption of Open Source BI? In my experience it is just fear of the unknown. What is OSBI? What can I do with it? Maybe it is time to get to know each other a bit better and start dating?

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/09/osbi_the_battle_of_the_sexes.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/09/osbi_the_battle_of_the_sexes.php Wed, 15 Sep 2010 13:35:35 -0700
Speaking @ Enterprise Data World 14-18 March Enterprise Data World is the business world’s most comprehensive vendor-neutral educational event about data and information management.I am honored to be invited to speak on Trends in Business Intelligence. Please join me wednesday, March 17th at 11:00 am in San Francisco, USA. Information is crucial to fight challenges but also in trying to identify chances and possibilities. What are the major trends in Business Intelligence and how is it impacting your organization? Capgemini explains how you can make use of data in order to make the necessary decisions under these fast changing circumstances.

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/02/speaking_enterprise_data_world_14-18_march.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/02/speaking_enterprise_data_world_14-18_march.php Mon, 01 Feb 2010 20:28:39 -0700
Video Interview DB/M on You tube My video Interview with Hans Lamboo from DB Magazine on www.biplatform.nl is no longer online.However you can still find the material on youtube.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78Wa52Oxa2I

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/02/video_interview_dbm_on_you_tube.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/02/video_interview_dbm_on_you_tube.php Mon, 01 Feb 2010 20:19:45 -0700
The Analytics of Corporate Performance Management Whatever happened to CPM or Corporate Perfomance Management?  Do you remember when it was on top of the hype cycle? Gartner defined it as ”... an umbrella term. It comprises all the relevant methods and all the processes, metrics and systems that enterprises put in place to measure and manage business performance”. Performance Management main objective is to improve the organizations performance and finds its starting point in the corporate strategy. Based on this strategy plans are made, results are measured and evaluated and actions are defined. CPM can even lead to new plans or strategies.

 

If we take a look at classic Business Intelligence we find that it is focused on using company data to report and analyze the current (or past) performance of the organization (lag). However, the Return-On-Intelligence (ROI) increases as organizations use this data to take a proactive approach in their decision making (lead). A good performance management framework therefore often consists of both lead and lag measures. 

 

Let’s break down the definition of CPM. Firstly, we take a look at ”relevant methods”. This refers to such methods as the Business Balanced Scorecard (Kaplan & Norton), Lean or Six Sigma. Secondly, it’s about ”processes”, or in other words a performance improvement process. The third element is ”Metrics and systems”. Another, widely accepted, name for metrics can be Key Performance Indicator or KPI. The system to support this would be Datawarehousing & Business Intelligence. But all these afore mentioned elements are used to ”measure and manage business performance”. And this means that CPM is focused on delivering a system with set of Key Performance Indicators to measure (by definition) past performance and use this to manage (or plan) future business performance.

Kaplan & Heizenberg 

So how is this different form the new number one on the hype cycle chart: Analytics? The main difference would be that analytics focuses not so much on measuring and managing but on analyzing data to gain insights and real understanding of (hidden) business performance. It is the next step in the evolution of Information Management. With CPM we can answer such questions as what happened and where (which we really need to know) but with Analytics we begin to understand the why. It will open up the road to not only making better decisions but maybe even the best decision.

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/the_analytics_of_corporate_performance_management_1.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/the_analytics_of_corporate_performance_management_1.php Thu, 21 Jan 2010 09:00:44 -0700
The Analytics of Corporate Performance Management Whatever happened to CPM or Corporate Perfomance Management? Do you remember when it was on top of the hype cycle? Gartner defined it as an umbrella term. It comprises all the relevant methods and all the processes, metrics and systems that enterprises put in place to measure and manage business performance. Performance Management main objective is to improve the organizations performance and finds its starting point in the corporate strategy. Based on this strategy plans are made, results are measured and evaluated and actions are defined. CPM can even lead to new plans or strategies.

If we take a look at classic Business Intelligence we find that it is focused on using company data to report and analyze the current (or past) performance of the organization (lag). However, the Return-On-Intelligence (ROI) increases as organizations use this data to take a proactive approach in their decision making (lead). A good performance management framework therefore often consists of both lead and lag measures.

Lets break down the definition of CPM. Firstly, we take a look at relevant methods. This refers to such methods as the Business Balanced Scorecard (Kaplan & Norton), Lean or Six Sigma. Secondly, its about processes, or in other words a performance improvement process. The third element is Metrics and systems. Another, widely accepted, name for metrics can be Key Performance Indicator or KPI. The system to support this would be Datawarehousing & Business Intelligence. But all these afore mentioned elements are used to measure and manage business performance. And this means that CPM is focused on delivering a system with set of Key Performance Indicators to measure (by definition) past performance and use this to manage (or plan) future business performance.

So how is this different form the new number one on the hype cycle chart: Analytics? The main difference would be that analytics focuses not so much on measuring and managing but on analyzing data to gain insights and real understanding of (hidden) business performance. It is the next step in the evolution of Information Management. With CPM we can answer such questions as what happened and where (which we really need to know) but with Analytics we begin to understand the why. It will open up the road to not only making better decisions but maybe even the best decision.

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/the_analytics_of_corporate_performance_management.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/the_analytics_of_corporate_performance_management.php Thu, 21 Jan 2010 02:03:05 -0700
Photo of the year http://www.haarlemmermeer.nl/badhoevedorp/Please vote and make photo week 43 your choice so I can win!Thanks.

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/photo_of_the_year.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/photo_of_the_year.php Wed, 20 Jan 2010 18:43:35 -0700
BI book - january 26th A new book on BI will be published on January 26th during the Heliview Business Intelligence conference in FIGI ZEIST for which I wrote one chapter (On BI in Retail).

Front Cover BI Book

See also  http://bi.heliview.nl/

The title of the book is: Over business intelligence. Data is zilver, informatie is goud (About Business Intelligence. Data is silver, information is gold). 

The book can also be ordered for € 26,50 (excl. € 2,60 postage and packing) on www.uitgeverijtiem.nl.

You can also view the index and some summaries on this website.

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/bi_book_-_january_26th.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/bi_book_-_january_26th.php Tue, 19 Jan 2010 16:11:34 -0700
2nd BI Dutch Event: Self Service BI (4th march 2010) The long expected 2nd BI Dutch Event will take place on thursday afternoon (13:00) the 4th of march.The theme for this event will be Self Service BI.Location and agenda will be announced soon. See also: http://nlbi.blogspot.com/2010/01/aankondiging-bi-dutch-jaarcongres.html Register online using LinkedIn:  http://events.linkedin.com/BI-Dutch-jaarcongres-Self-Service/pub/197525

Self Service BI

 

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/2nd_bi_dutch_event_self_service_bi_4th_march_2010.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/2nd_bi_dutch_event_self_service_bi_4th_march_2010.php Thu, 07 Jan 2010 07:51:07 -0700
Playing Together is Sharing Together How to mix Business Intelligence and Social Media to enable decision making

Children are constantly learning. First they crawl than they learn how to walk. And the same happens with playing.  At first they start out doing this alone and they find it difficult to share toys with others. They want to keep those fun things themselves.  But in time the children learn that playing together is more fun. And that playing together also means that you have to share your toys with others. This increases the fun and before you know it you have a new best friend. We have an expression in the Netherlands which goes like this: ”Playing together is sharing together”. This Dutch rime helps children share their toys with other children while playing. As an adult the world looks pretty much the same. We also find it difficult to share our toys, let alone enterprise data or corporate analyses. However sharing can create enormous advantages and will increase your Return-On-Information. In this article we look at the role of corporate information (or business intelligence) and how social networks (or internet social media like twitter) can help decision making. Perhaps in the near future a manager will publish his or hers corporate data on the net with a $50 reward for the person that comes up with the best solution.

From bearskin suits to intelligent use of information

We used to learn this in school during history lessons. The first inhabitants of the Netherlands were fishers, hunters and collectors. They wore bearskin suits and chased after mammoths. But after a while they started working the land and established small towns and villages. This urbanization allowed them to split their roles and tasks. The cow gave milk to the farmer which he used to buy bread from the baker. The industrial revolution ended these small scale economic (trading) activities. The modern time demanded mass production and oil and steel were the new, o so crucial, cows.

The next big break was the information revolution. The introduction of the computer was just the beginning. Everything bit of information was changed into bits and bytes. Information became the new oil and is the lubricant for today’s economy. Data or information has become an essential production factor just like labor or capital. But the information revolution came to us in waves. First, information was broadcasted by one source for the benefit of many. Think about mass media like radio and television. But the internet has changed this model for ever. The net maybe started out somewhat one dimensional with website after website where all possible interest known to mankind was broadcasted. But soon after that it became possible to react on the sender’s opinion thus creating some kind of dialogue. The next step was sharing information or creating a dialogue between larger groups of congenial persons. Communities were being formed.

The importance of information has been recognized by many.  Information has become an economic factor of production and therefore it is one of the things that enable enterprises to achieve competitive advantages. For example, by knowing trends and other developments before others. It has given rise to a field of expertise where collecting information to improve performance has become important: Business Intelligence (BI). Intelligence, not by coincidence, reminds is of the CIA. An organization that also values information. Only the BI field has been dominated by IT. As a result there is a focus on the technology with regard to information supply instead of using information to increase business opportunities. BI is mainly engaged with opening up enterprise data to get insights in the corporate performance. Social media are also engaged with information collection. Only the platform is not the corporate IT systems but the internet.

Oil is scarce, information is abundant

In time commodities like oil and steel are going to run out. With information it’s exactly the other way round. There is an abundance of information available. From every corner comes data or information. From our systems like cash register, book keeping, HR or the ERP system. But also from external sources like internet. This information can take on different shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s a comment placed in an online forum, or a picture, but it can also be a pdf file containing market analyses or a press release. The challenge is to find the famous needle in the haystack, or rather in football fields filled with haystacks.

A first step is finding or locating data that can be useful, in other words: where is it? The next step will be controlling the data. To make heads and tails of it. For example by capturing it in a model to create insight. The central question here would be: What is it? After that we have to look at the value of the captured information. Is it indeed relevant? Does it have some sort of economic value? What can I do with it? The last step is an interpretation of the data. By giving the data some kind of rating or importance. In other words: what can I do with it?

The World is continuously in motion and freezing an existing situation is therefore not smart as the value of information decreases directly. Above mentioned steps are therefore not suggested as a well managed linearly process. Especially for social media controlling information can only be done up and until the process of interpretation. For classical BI the process might be a bit more linear and controlled but still some phases will melt together, as pictured in the information cloud example below.

 

 Locate: Where is it?

Business Intelligence (BI) is still very traditional in retrieving or finding information. Most information comes from the organizations own systems. In every organization IT systems are being used for capturing data, such as ERP systems, Cash Registers or HR. This data capture is needed to support the operational process. For example, in HR we need to know what the employees name is, how long he has been working for the company and so on. Also we need to know how much we have sold and to who or where. All this data is being stored in the operational systems. But the data can also change in time or even be deleted. Historically this is why we have built datawarehouses. It allows us to capture all the data in time and create a historical view of facts and dimensions. For BI the datawarehouse is often the information or data source of choice. Its limitation is that it often offers only internal data. The type of data is also often static, meaning that is consists of number, tables. Retrieving information from a datawarehouse can be done with BI tools which build reports or list. Often these reports are developed by the IT department based on user requirements. All and all it takes a lot of steps before information can be retrieved.

Locating data or information on the internet is not necessary anymore. Any which way you use the net, you are constantly surrounded with information, coming from WebPages or our own social network. The internet is like an array of millions of datawarehouses that all can possibly contribute to your information supply. For example, this is the first year that computer generate more data than people do. Every minute, ten hours of video is added to Youtube. Every week over ten billion pieces of content are added to facebook. Service like lazyfeed and DailyPerfect can,  based on some criteria (or topics), retrieve all the information that can be of relevance. They can do this much faster and more elaborate than any human could have done. Data is everywhere when you are on the web. It is on websites, in RSS feeds, in your social network or hidden within a simple Google query. Data is more than available, rich in content, from many sources and better still, easy to find.

Where BI is focused on retrieving structured data from corporate systems or datawarehouses, social media do not need to focus on data retrieval. The information is just there. This makes BI very internally focused and Social Media externally focused. The internet is just an array of datawarehouses filled with an inexhaustible amount of information. But where to find the relevant information? Search engines can help here, just as web services or having a network of trusted people and websites. Both worlds (BI & Social Media) are complementary. By combining BI and Social Media both structured as well as unstructured data is captured. But it is also a combination of internal and external data. The real value is in taking either an inside out approach of better still an outside in approach to enrich already existing information. Finding the right combinations is the final challenge.

Control: What is it?

Controlling the information from datawarehouses is done with a BI tool in the form or reports, list. Sometimes even OLAP cubes are introduced. These are larger datasets where the facts or measures can be analyzed from different dimensions like date, customer or product. It looks a bit like a pivot table in Excel. Modeling information in a datawarehouse is difficult and often a challenge. Reproducing this data in reports or cubes is even more difficult. The biggest challenge here is getting the definitions right and the same across the whole organization. If this is not done everybody can interpret the data the way they want it. That way there will always be multiple versions of the truth. Too many meeting have been spent on discussing the validity of the figures instead of using them. Controlling internal data might remain difficult, but when done correctly offers a multi dimensional view across the entire organization. With this one version of the truth comes a great return on intelligence.

Controlling data is also a big issue for Social Media. There is so much data, that if you want to read it all, this is impossible. So you need to filter and make choices in what you need. This is often done by working with trusted feeds, people and topics. By selecting a number of websites, data feeds or subscriptions to trusted source you can easily control your dataset. You can also use your social network to get information. Some people are part of your network because you trust them or because they can add value. You can also choose to subscribe to certain topics. Services like Google Alert of Lazyfeed scramble the internet for you. This way you can create a controllable dataset, without drowning in the sea of information that is available online. Also by working with trusted feeds, people and topics you know that the information you receive probably hold value for you. It is not just static or a waste of time.

In order to control the information BI uses data models. Data is captured, clarified and distributed using reports or cubes. The information is there, relevant or not. But it does provide one stable version of the truth. BI often models this information in line with the organization operational processes (finance, sales, and logistics). This makes these processes explicit and the supporting data known. The added value of this that you can create insight into your own performance: it is looking inside.

Controlling information in Social Media is impossible. This means that you have to filter. By using trusted feeds, people, sources or topics. It is about limiting the dataset. If it is not relevant it does not exist. Therefore a dynamic version of the truth exists. The social media often model the information based on trust. This is done based on your gut feeling, so often implicit. The added value of this is that you can create insight into the performance of others: it is looking outside.

BI and Social Media are complementary as they allow for looking inside and outside. BI on its own is not enough. The same applies for Social Media. But together they offer a 360 view. Just think about the sales director that explained a decline in sales for Region X based on a newspaper clipping he found on the internet that a megastore was opened by the competition.

 Value: Can I use it?

The gap between business and IT seems to grow every day. This makes sense as each party has its own tasks, responsibilities and interests. But at the same time this causes problems, because as long as business and IT do not work together, the BI competence will face many challenges. A BI Competence Center where business and IT work together and align their activities is still considered to be the best practice. So why does this gap still exist?

 

IT is focusing on operational excellence. Their aim is to get a minimum of changes, defects or incidents. In their struggle with a declining budget they are constantly striving to reduce the total cost of ownership. But how can we reduce the costs of BI? The simplest solution is reduce the amount of changes. That means less resources and releases. The result of this is a decline in the information supply. On the other hand business is focusing on a concept we call business excellence. They are confronted on a daily basis with many questions and they need answers fast. They need to reduce the amount of uncertainty by increasing the amount of information. If IT cannot supply this to them they will take control themselves. The rise of all kind of (managed) self service reporting is exemplary. Information does not only reduce uncertainty it can also create competitive advantage. By knowing things first the competition is put at a disadvantage. This means that the demand for information will increase.  In conclusion, data supply by IT is down and data demand by business is up. This will lead to higher value of the information. The problem here is how to value this information? Because it is not only the information but also the experiences of people using this information, their skills and attitude. BI can help structure data which leads to explicit information. However its real value is made possible through implicit interactions. Humans add value to the information, for example by making decisions or taking actions. But why limit something a powerful as that to only one person?

 And what is the value of information that you have retrieved from trusted feeds, people and topics. How do you determine which information is important to you? To determine the value is something very personal. What some people consider valuable others might throw away. All information you received is by definition subjective. The information differs in value based on the subject or source you retrieved your data from. Some sources are more valuable than others. This is based on past experiences, known expert knowledge of the sources or because the source was recommended by a trusted person.

 But there are also some semi-objective measures to rate the value of information. Semi-objective because every opinion is a group result and groups needs some conditions to come to a sound conclusion (diversity, independency, specialization and the ability to aggregate various opinions according to James Sorowiecki in his wonderful book Wisdom of the Crowds). Possible way to quantify the value of information is to look how many social bookmarking sites have acknowledged a certain website, how some article are rated on social news sites (like DIGG) or what the Google Pagerank is, or how many people subscribe to a certain RSS feed.

 

 

Netflix

 

Netflix is a company that rents out movies on DVD, Blueray as well as online streaming. Its customers can use a recommendation engine (relevant suggestions based on content) which was improved by using social media. Netflix published a set of anonymous data and ask ‘strangers’ if they could improve their recommendation engine by 1%. The person with the best improvement could earn one million dollar. The final result was an improvement of their engine of 10%. This leads to much higher revenue and the costs of the competition were easily compensated. Also these kinds of improvement if done by their own IT could not have been done or would have cost them more than the 1 million dollar. It was much cheaper to just give the data to the social network.

 

In conclusion, it can be said that the value of information is increasing and it is the human being that decides the real value. Classical BI has a somewhat carefully, safe way of using data. It source is often trusted (own corporate system or datawarehouse). Social media are completely different. They use a multitude of sources. Also the safety or reliability cannot always be guaranteed. But in order to come to an optimal performance it is not always black or white. Business Intelligence can create a foundation for decision making, it can formulate a thesis, and social media can serve as some kind of standard deviation. They can make or break the thesis, confirm or reject it, but always enrich it. 

This article was written together with Rick Mans - Social Media evangelist at Capgemini

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/playing_together_is_sharing_together.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/playing_together_is_sharing_together.php Mon, 04 Jan 2010 13:10:38 -0700
Playing Together is Sharing Together (Part 2) Locate: Where is it?
Business Intelligence (BI) is still very traditional in retrieving or finding information. Most information comes from the organizations own systems. In every organization IT systems are being used for capturing data, such as ERP systems, Cash Registers or HR. This data capture is needed to support the operational process. For example, in HR we need to know what the employees name is, how long he has been working for the company and so on. Also we need to know how much we have sold and to who or where. All this data is being stored in the operational systems. But the data can also change in time or even be deleted. Historically this is why we have built datawarehouses. It allows us to capture all the data in time and create a historical view of facts and dimensions. For BI the datawarehouse is often the information or data source of choice. Its limitation is that it often offers only internal data. The type of data is also often static, meaning that is consists of number, tables. Retrieving information from a datawarehouse can be done with BI tools which build reports or list. Often these reports are developed by the IT department based on user requirements. All and all it takes a lot of steps before information can be retrieved.

Locating data or information on the internet is not necessary anymore. Any which way you use the net, you are constantly surrounded with information, coming from WebPages or our own social network. The internet is like an array of millions of datawarehouses that all can possibly contribute to your information supply. For example, this is the first year that computer generate more data than people do. Every minute, ten hours of video is added to Youtube. Every week over ten billion pieces of content are added to facebook. Service like lazyfeed and DailyPerfect can, based on some criteria (or topics), retrieve all the information that can be of relevance. They can do this much faster and more elaborate than any human could have done. Data is everywhere when you are on the web. It is on websites, in RSS feeds, in your social network or hidden within a simple Google query. Data is more than available, rich in content, from many sources and better still, easy to find.

Where BI is focused on retrieving structured data from corporate systems or datawarehouses, social media do not need to focus on data retrieval. The information is just there. This makes BI very internally focused and Social Media externally focused. The internet is just an array of datawarehouses filled with an inexhaustible amount of information. But where to find the relevant information? Search engines can help here, just as web services or having a network of trusted people and websites. Both worlds (BI & Social Media) are complementary. By combining BI and Social Media both structured as well as unstructured data is captured. But it is also a combination of internal and external data. The real value is in taking either an inside out approach of better still an outside in approach to enrich already existing information. Finding the right combinations is the final challenge.


Control: What is it?
Controlling the information from datawarehouses is done with a BI tool in the form or reports, list. Sometimes even OLAP cubes are introduced. These are larger datasets where the facts or measures can be analyzed from different dimensions like date, customer or product. It looks a bit like a pivot table in Excel. Modeling information in a datawarehouse is difficult and often a challenge. Reproducing this data in reports or cubes is even more difficult. The biggest challenge here is getting the definitions right and the same across the whole organization. If this is not done everybody can interpret the data the way they want it. That way there will always be multiple versions of the truth. Too many meeting have been spent on discussing the validity of the figures instead of using them. Controlling internal data might remain difficult, but when done correctly offers a multi dimensional view across the entire organization. With this one version of the truth comes a great return on intelligence.

Controlling data is also a big issue for Social Media. There is so much data, that if you want to read it all, this is impossible. So you need to filter and make choices in what you need. This is often done by working with trusted feeds, people and topics. By selecting a number of websites, data feeds or subscriptions to trusted source you can easily control your dataset. You can also use your social network to get information. Some people are part of your network because you trust them or because they can add value. You can also choose to subscribe to certain topics. Services like Google Alert of Lazyfeed scramble the internet for you. This way you can create a controllable dataset, without drowning in the sea of information that is available online. Also by working with trusted feeds, people and topics you know that the information you receive probably hold value for you. It is not just static or a waste of time.

In order to control the information BI uses data models. Data is captured, clarified and distributed using reports or cubes. The information is there, relevant or not. But it does provide one stable version of the truth. BI often models this information in line with the organization operational processes (finance, sales, and logistics). This makes these processes explicit and the supporting data known. The added value of this that you can create insight into your own performance: it is looking inside.

Controlling information in Social Media is impossible. This means that you have to filter. By using trusted feeds, people, sources or topics. It is about limiting the dataset. If it is not relevant it does not exist. Therefore a dynamic version of the truth exists. The social media often model the information based on trust. This is done based on your gut feeling, so often implicit. The added value of this is that you can create insight into the performance of others: it is looking outside.

BI and Social Media are complementary as they allow for looking inside and outside. BI on its own is not enough. The same applies for Social Media. But together they offer a 360 view. Just think about the sales director that explained a decline in sales for Region X based on a newspaper clipping he found on the internet that a megastore was opened b y the competition.


Value: Can I use it?
The gap between business and IT seems to grow every day. This makes sense as each party has its own tasks, responsibilities and interests. But at the same time this causes problems, because as long as business and IT do not work together, the BI competence will face many challenges. A BI Competence Center where business and IT work together and align their activities is still considered to be the best practice. So why does this gap still exist?

IT is focusing on operational excellence. Their aim is to get a minimum of changes, defects or incidents. In their struggle with a declining budget they are constantly striving to reduce the total cost of ownership. But how can we reduce the costs of BI? The simplest solution is reduce the amount of changes. That means less resources and releases. The result of this is a decline in the information supply. On the other hand business is focusing on a concept we call business excellence. They are confronted on a daily basis with many questions and they need answers fast. They need to reduce the amount of uncertainty by increasing the amount of information. If IT cannot supply this to them they will take control themselves. The rise of all kind of (managed) self service reporting is exemplary. Information does not only reduce uncertainty it can also create competitive advantage. By knowing things first the competition is put at a disadvantage. This means that the demand for information will increase. In conclusion, data supply by IT is down and data demand by business is up. This will lead to higher value of the information. The problem here is how to value this information? Because it is not only the information but also the experiences of people using this information, their skills and attitude. BI can help structure data which leads to explicit information. However its real value is made possible through implicit interactions. Humans add value to the information, for example by making decisions or taking actions. But why limit something a powerful as that to only one person?

And what is the value of information that you have retrieved from trusted feeds, people and topics. How do you determine which information is important to you? To determine the value is something very personal. What some people consider valuable others might throw away. All information you received is by definition subjective. The information differs in value based on the subject or source you retrieved your data from. Some sources are more valuable than others. This is based on past experiences, known expert knowledge of the sources or because the source was recommended by a trusted person.

But there are also some semi-objective measures to rate the value of information. Semi-objective because every opinion is a group result and groups needs some conditions to come to a sound conclusion (diversity, independency, specialization and the ability to aggregate various opinions according to James Sorowiecki in his wonderful book Wisdom of the Crowds). Possible way to quantify the value of information is to look how many social bookmarking sites have acknowledged a certain website, how some article are rated on social news sites (like DIGG) or what the Google Pagerank is, or how many people subscribe to a certain RSS feed.

Netflix

Netflix is a company that rents out movies on DVD, Blueray as well as online streaming. Its customers can use a recommendation engine (relevant suggestions based on content) which was improved by using social media. Netflix published a set of anonymous data and ask strangers if they could improve their recommendation engine by 1%. The person with the best improvement could earn one million dollar. The final result was an improvement of their engine of 10%. This leads to much higher revenue and the costs of the competition were easily compensated. Also these kinds of improvement if done by their own IT could not have been done or would have cost them more than the 1 million dollar. It was much cheaper to just give the data to the social network.

In conclusion, it can be said that the value of information is increasing and it is the human being that decides the real value. Classical BI has a somewhat carefully, safe way of using data. It source is often trusted (own corporate system or datawarehouse). Social media are completely different. They use a multitude of sources. Also the safety or reliability cannot always be guaranteed. But in order to come to an optimal performance it is not always black or white. Business Intelligence can create a foundation for decision making, it can formulate a thesis, and social media can serve as some kind of standard deviation. They can make or break the thesis, confirm or reject it, but always enrich it.

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/playing_together_is_sharing_together_part_2.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2010/01/playing_together_is_sharing_together_part_2.php Mon, 04 Jan 2010 05:53:34 -0700
Playing Together is Sharing Together (Part 1) How to mix Business Intelligence and Social Media to enable decision making

Children are constantly learning. First they craw, then they learn how to walk. The same happens with playing. At first they start out doing this alone and they find it difficult to share toys with others. They want to keep those fun things for themselves. But in time the children learn that playing together is more fun, and that playing together also means that you have to share your toys with others. This increases the fun and before you know it you have a new best friend. We have an expression in the Netherlands which goes like this: Playing together is sharing together. This Dutch rhyme helps children share their toys with other children while playing. As an adult the world looks pretty much the same. We also find it difficult to share our toys, similarly let alone enterprise data or corporate analyses. However sharing can create enormous advantages and will increase your Return-On-Information. In this article we look at the role of corporate information (or business intelligence) and how social networks (or internet social media like twitter) can help decision making. Perhaps in the near future a manager will publish his or hers corporate data on the net with a $50 reward for the person that comes up with the best solution.

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2009/12/playing_together_is_sharing_together_how_to_mix_bu.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2009/12/playing_together_is_sharing_together_how_to_mix_bu.php Thu, 17 Dec 2009 01:15:19 -0700
BI Trend 2010: Bashing BI Trends There is a new hype on Twitter: bashing BI trends. This is so much fun. Since everybody is making their BI trends list for next year, let’s all do something else. Let’s find out which trends are real and which are BS or let me rephrase that editorials from the marketing department. The winner of the best bashing of the most repugnant, far away, non inspired BI trend of 2010 will receive many thanks and perhaps a small price.

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http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2009/12/bi_trend_2010_bashing_bi_trends.php http://www.beyenetwork.nl/blogs/heizenberg/archives/2009/12/bi_trend_2010_bashing_bi_trends.php Fri, 04 Dec 2009 17:54:18 -0700