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Are you having a bad day?

By | Other | No Comments

I received a couple of funny emails inquiring why my blog post tiles seem so negative? My titles are not intended to be negative; they need to be polarizing. I always try to find a positive or upside, even when an experience is not positive.

With enough marketing buzz and PR generated fluff, blogs are a great place to learn about real experiences.

I do promise I am just as happy as I have ever been, though my tone will indicate otherwise sometimes.

FROM BLOGGING TO PODCASTING

I have something HUGE in the final production stages that will transform my contributions from blog to podcast. It has been years in the making, and I promise it will be amazing!

Stay tuned for a big announcement, and thanks to my readers who keep me honest.

New blog design coming

By | Other | No Comments

Today I had a fun time attempting to roll over my new blog design without much success, but I will give i another try this week so I can get some of the exciting new news for 2014 out.

I will also be moving my feed so those of you who have long used my Feed burner feed will get an email notice.

Thanks!
-Ryan

Looking forward to 2014!

By | Business Intelligence Best Practices, Other | No Comments

2013 was a fantastic year of growth, learning, and opportunity. I spent most of my year writing and evangelizing the value of location analytics and will continue to do so this year in 2014. This year I deepen my focus and dive into the indoor analytics space. I will periodically share my experiences here, on my blog but also working my writing into new sites.

2014 is going to be very interesting as many of you who are BI practitioners have started diversifying your skill sets. We are seeing industry trends and consumer habits impact enterprise software at a rate we have never seen before. It is a very exciting time to be involved in enterprise software, and I look forward to hearing your ideas and successes in 2014!

Industry Trends: My two cents based on 2013 customer and partner discussions.


DEVICES: More enterprises are “mobile ready” going into 2014.

Most enterprises are still starting out of the gates executing on a mobile analytics strategy.  With the barrier to create and implement apps lowering each year, there won’t be any shortage of mobile projects coming up over the next 18 months. From custom HTML5 apps to end to end mobile platforms, there mobility will explode in 2014!

INFRASTRUCTURE: Cloud is still forming

Some of the largest enterprise customers we work with have no plans to move critical data into the cloud. On the flip side, I talk to other organizations that use private cloud solutions for rapid deployment of new analytics initiatives. I am a huge advocate for cloud technology because it dramatically simplifies integration and application development.

The security implications of cloud are real, as public cloud service providers and now big box retailers are exposed publicly every day with critical customer data. Organizations that don’t take security as top priority will risk losing credibility and customers.

BIG DATA: Big Data is a real problem and opportunity, but not for everyone…yet

Every enterprise faces the same challenge to process and extract meaningful, actionable, information. Hadoop and In-Memory database technology like HANA, open the doors to process massive volumes of structured and un-structured data for analytics. However, these technologies are not the magic bullet to solve the world’s big data problems. The success factor for tackling Big data is having the right people and skills in place, to get the right information to the right people. Sound familiar?

I still witness on a regular basis organizations who still struggle with “Small Data”, in existing data warehouse / BI projects. I truly believe the gap is knowledge and experience more than technology. The industry players and system integrators who master this transfer of knowledge and simplify the “data scientist” role new users, yet offer advanced statistical analysis tools for the real data scientists of the world. One vendor I have been looking at recently who makes this process simple is Alteryx. There are many BI innovation factories churning out great stuff so I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Everyone with a smartphone is a data generating beacon, and anything that can be assigned an IP address, will be. The challenges and opportunities for solving big data problems are endless. I know, with my transitioning focus to indoor analytics the volume and velocity of data is massive which is why I am focusing more of my attention to this area in 2014.

Micro-Trends Related to this Blog

Onto the traditional dashboards / SAP Analytics ecosystem that we all know and love:

1. Customers who use SAP Dashboards without BusinessObjects have been left in the cold.

Crystal Reports and SAP Dashboards as an entry level BI suite is showing its age. Lumira still needs to continue forward at the same rate of progress to re-gain attention of customers who are looking for the doors.

There is still nothing like SAP Dashboards for compiling dashboards against Excel and web services. Some of the most amazing enterprise Apps I have ever seen have come from the talented dashboard designers. The smart ones are now using multiple platforms for design. For customers with BusienssObjects, there is plenty of milage left in the SAP Dashboards tank. I still see new initiatives and customer success every week that blows me away.

2. More market disruption for SAP BusinessObjects

Every customer I talk to has a Tableau initiative somewhere in their organization. I firmly believe that tools like Tableau and Qlicktech of the world will replace tools like Crystal Reports for interactive / web based analytics.  Lumira is certainly playing catch up at a fairly rapid pace. With so many conflicting use cases, markets, and gaps to be filled, it will be interesting to see if Lumira falls into the same pit that Xcelsius did as it gained adoption in the SAP ecosystem.

The “right tool for the job” BI approach was a value proposition turned competitive disadvantage. As customer demands evolved and technology platforms age when I look at the existing ecosystem of large business intelligence vendors, most have a suite of tools that have amazing capabilities, but no single tool that is amazing.

One of the most exciting innovations I saw last year that I will follow closely in 2014 is DecisionPoint. It approaches BI Apps in a way that SAP BusinessObjects customers have asked for years.

HTML5-  Is 2014 is here already?

I have written several articles over the last 3 years about the readiness of HTML5. In the enterprise, we still have a host of major fragmentation issues to iron out, but the power, performance, and speed of HTML5 / Javascript is finally where it needs to be. I know from our personal experiences moving our powerful Flash geo platform to HTML5 with CMaps Analytics, that we are seeing performance and data processing levels that are outstanding. Now we just need everyone to dump IE7 & IE8!

What to expect from my blog in 2014

Early this year, I will begin an upgrade and re-design which will allow me to focus less on specific tips and tricks for one technology and broaden my focus to my original vision for the blog. Interactive Data Visualization!. This way I can quickly share cool articles, concepts, and provide a different personalized perspective on things I see from customers and the marketplace. This is my personal blog so as always you get my personal opinions which may be right or wrong, but certainly educated.

As always thanks for stopping by and reading!

Using Geo and Twitter to Track Engagement

By | Location Intelligence, Other | No Comments

This last week, I decided to run an experiment before this weeks SAP BusinessObjects conference. I wanted to see how much traffic there was at the event and profile how effective individual tweets were based on subject, time, and most importantly location.

With a little bit of work completed by my team using the Twitter API which will shortly make it’s way into GMaps Mobile, I used SAP Dashboards and CMaps Plugin to prototype the solution. Within an hour I was querying tweets based purely on subject and location.

I found some interesting results out of the gates but to my disappointment, the volume of location data captured and served up through the Twitter APIs is highly limited when it comes to spatial queries. We will go back to the drawing board to extract meaningful feeds from Twitter. It is a shame because it would have made a killer demo for SBOUC!

More to come as I find new ways to use some of the new tools we are creating!

If you are attending and want to see how I wired it up, stop by the Centigon Solutions booth.

Twitter Dashboard

Lessons Learned as an Entrepreneur- Video Interview with SOTGC

By | Other, Tech Entreprenuer | No Comments

Last week, I sat down with Marney Reid from SOTGC to share with her readership the lessons that I learned as an Entrepreneur. Some of the main topics covered were lessons learned, finding a good support system, balancing work and personal life, and suggestions for success.

Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling (SOTGC) is a new community that Marney put together  because her and her female friends are in male dominated industries and are trending towards shattering the proverbial Glass Ceiling.  She created this forum for the modern Renaissance Woman where community members can collectively share ideas, promote each other, and help support each others goals and aspirations.

Marney is off to a great start and he, so any female readers in IT should definitely join in on the discussion. Marney also recently did an interview with Heather Sinkwitz, co-author of  SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide.

New upcoming video series on SOTGC

By | Other | No Comments

In December I am excited to do a video series with a dear friend, Marney Reid, who founded SOTGC (Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling) which is a rapidly growing community for professional women. I am honored to be a guest where I will share some of my experiences leaving a large company to start my own business and some of the exciting rewards and challenges.

Marney is a character so it will certainly be entertaining!

Click here for the teaser post:

My Biased Review of GMaps Mobile and Why it is Important to You

By | Other | No Comments

GMaps Mobile is the latest release by Centigon Solutions, targeted toward organizations with mobile work forces who sell, deliver, install, adjust, and manage. The technology features a Google Maps powered, geographic view of business data which can include assets, events, or territories all together in one visual.

WHY LOCATION INTELLIGENCE IS VERY IMPORTANT

80% of the data in your organization has a location attribute. Location can range from a product sitting on a shelf in your store, to a worldwide territory. I ask every customer how they are leveraging this location based data for decision making and sometimes I get a puzzled look because most of us don’t really think about these things. Certain industries like transportation, retail, and utilities have made significant investments using GIS technology to crunch and derrive critical decision making insights..

But what about the other 70% of your organization? Those are the people who do NOT sit in front of a computer, and who DON’T and never will know what GIS is. Those are the people I want to impact using location intelligence.

WHAT ABOUT GMAPS MOBILE

GMaps Mobile as a technology just recently left the nest after 14 month of development by the Centigon Solutions team. V2 is almost ready for prime time, which includes connectivity to SAP BusinessObject BI4 and improved data visualization. With a hybrid platform (on-premise and cloud) , we have a ton of flexibility to innovate very quickly and there is no shortage of crazy ideas that you will see only in GMaps Mobile.

WHAT DOES GMAPS MOBILE DO TODAY?

GMaps Mobile allows you to create Layers of business data that can be mixed and matched into Views. Each data point or region can have both qualitative and quantitative data to help end users prioritize most important locations.

 

In addition to a geographic view, a user can also navigate locations as street-view enabled tiles or as a scrollable bullet chart. At any point you can sort or re-organize location based on your proximity, or the quantitative data. Similarly you can filter or select locations through various gestures.

WHAT ABOUT TAKING ACTION?

Right GMaps Mobile,users can bookmark views or send views to other GMaps Mobile users via email. Soon users will also have the ability to screenshot, annotate, and geo-tag locations for later use. While GMaps Mobile makes a great entry point for decision making taking action is the critical key for future success.

WHATS NEXT?

We keep our innovation pipeline close to the chest but the one of the most important next steps for GMaps Plugin is our data API, which will allow customers and partners to connect and configure any on premise data source to as a GMaps Mobile layer. We have a few of our partners chomping at the bit to get the first release so we are very excited to put GMaps Mobile on top of other popular and widely adopted platforms.

HOW DO I GET MY HANDS ON GMAPS MOBILE

Right now, you can get GMaps Mobile on the App Store for iPad only.

Why I Tweeted Crystal Reports is Dead to Me

By | Other | No Comments

About a month ago, I tweeted “Crystal Reports is Dead to Me”. Hopefully that day I didn’t loose some readers… I wanted to take the chance to explain my frustrations with CR and some very interesting tricks of the trade that may serve as very useful for the people who happen to find this article searching on Google. At the end of the day, we got CR to finally do what I wanted but not without 4 months and thousands of dollars wasted.

Almost 9 months ago, I started managing a project with SAP where we sought to create a BI Strategy Assessmeent for customers. The idea is create a page where users can fill in a form, and then get a PDF report with customized results. The idea is make the report graphical and informational. Knowing that Crystal Reports is still one of the best reporting technologies I figured it would be great to use an SAP owned technology to do the reporting. I brought in George Peck who is a top Crystal Reports guru to ensure that we could get as close to what the business stakeholders wanted for the project.

Before I go into the details I have to say in hindsight, it would have been cheaper and easier to build a custom, one-off HTML page with some fancy chart controls and a little CSS to format the page for PDF.

Limitations of Crystal Reports that were frustrating

Crystal Reports is an amazing technology because it connects to everything and provides a powerful engine to process and stage data. Reporting output for print is also extremely flexible. However, in today’s world where polished graphics, dashboards, and Apps have become the standard for presenting information, reports need to include the same bells and whistles.

1. Charting is inflexible- We ended up having to use bar charts because we could not get a stacked bar chart to display data using data visualization best practices.

2. HTML Text support is severely limited- There are a handful of very basic HTML tags that are not supported, but the one that blew my mind is ordered and unorded (bullet) lists. How a reporting technolgoy does not allow for bullet points is beyond me.

3. Using CR Server to generate PDFs does not provide any kind of loading status, and did present extra lag time when using a custom JSP to do single sign on.

Multilingual Nightmare

By far the biggest nightmare of this project was creating a single report capable of displaying 8 different languages. There is a perfect combination of fonts, print drivers, and font settings that will ensure you can output multi-lingual reports with CR without getting error codes or square boxes as foreign characters.

1. Use Arial

2. Use a generic post script driver

3. Do not dynamically assign fonts

4. Make sure the client and server both have the exact same fonts and when installing a font on a server, reboot the machine

What I will use Crystal Reports for in the future

We currently use Crystal Reports internally for error log and usage reporting for our cloud but that is it. Everything is about having the right tool for the job, and unfortunately, CR for me is the tool that I will only use to extract data out of a DB into a boring report or Excel.

 

Where you can find and ask questions anytime…

By | Other | No Comments

I have been quite busy the last couple of weeks trying to re-think how I want to engage my readership and SAP BusinessObjects community members moving forward. I know a lot of people use my blog as a resource for information about Xcelsius. However, these days we are all overloaded with information which creates a challenge for all of us. I am curious to better understand how you prioritize, index, and search content related to BI and what brings you back to my blog.

JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK to discuss this further with me.

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