Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Arrogance of the BI Vendors

Is it arrogance, is it lack of interest, or do they not get it? You might think I am referencing Nic's post below with photo that seems to imply that Microsoft is the evil empire and PerformancePoint Server is the Death Star of BI. This, while plausible, was not where I was going.

I managed to carve out some cycles last week to spend time at OMG's Think Tank on standards for business process management - as in BPM. Not performance management. The think tank was by turns thought provoking and painful, often within a matter of minutes. It is always great to get a bunch of vendors and analysts together on a neutral site and watch the games begin under the guise of "helping the industry." If you want the blow by blow on who was thinking what, I recommend you check out Sandy Kemsley's blog. However, one of the things I found of interest was Colin Teubner's lunch keynote that discussed the relationship between BI and process management.

Colin is an analyst at Forrester Research, focused on business process management. He gave a lunch time keynote focused on BPM with two main discussions - the relationship between process and BI, as well as BPM intersecting with collaboration and information. Both are much longer topics for discussion, but Colin presented some more recent thinking from Forrester on the intersection of process and business intelligence. Colin suggested 5 specific use cases on how the two technologies work together.

1. Business intelligence on a process - analysis and reporting on process applications
2. BI triggering or changing a process - BI kicking off a process
3. BI inside a process decision - when executing a process, BI should help
4. BI to help humans work with process -more information is better to make decisions
5. BI to predict the future of process work - think trend analysis and data mining

Look for this to be a topic of further research from Forrester building on work that was started initially by Keith Gile (Now doing strategy for Business Objects) and Connie Moore, a VP and research director at Forrester. Colin is working on this with a number of contributors. Of particular interest were two of Colin's comments.

The first is that from the Forrester point of view, BI converging with BPM is a no-brainer. I tend to agree on this point and you can see this starting to happen with BPM companies introducing BI capability as core to their offering and partnering with BI vendors. MSFT performance point is also heading in this direction. See also the Spotfire acquisition by Tibco that I commented on when it happened. So what is the hold up?

According to Colin, one of the big issues around this discussion is the arrogance of the BI vendors. He noted that BI vendors should get it, but that they don't understand it well enough and they are too caught up with themselves. He was also specific that none of the top players really offered real process functionality today. This is a very interesting observation, especially when you consider how long BI vendors have been trying to explain their relevance and importance, especially relative to the ERP big guys. Guy commented on this here and here. Seems to be going on 20 years now. Nothing worse than a young adult with a sizable IQ and low self esteem.

Is this arrogance, insecurity, too much navel gazing, or not enough interest to motivate action? Maybe this is just as simple as the devil you know - much easier to deal with than the devil you don't and the associated multiples required.

I think this is an open question and something to watch. This post both catches me up on posting and addresses the open questions to me by my performance partners in crime. Now about this Death Star issue...

Here Comes the Mother Ship

Guy is not kidding when he says PerformancePoint is in full swing, two weeks ago was MGX (what Microsoft calls sales kickoff). The 15,000 person event was host to the latest and greatest product demos and feature the plans and strategy for the upcoming year. Included in the mix was a main stage demo of PerformancePoint Server tied together with the Microsoft Unified Communications products. The demo nicely tied together BI capabilities of scorecards, analytics, and planning with communications functionally via live meeting, instant messaging, and VOIP. If you’d like to get a good look at PerformancePoint, there’s a demo recording on YouTube from the recent Microsoft BI conference in Seattle featuring our good friend Bruno Aziza. There will be a continuous string of activities throughout the rest of 2007 and into 2008, so pack your bags and grab your favorite conference outfit, it’s gonna be a performance management boogie fest.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oracle still on the move...

No, we don't have a juicy rumor to pass along today, but there are always tremors in the greater Bay area, aren't there? And our friends at Oracle seem not to be quite finished with their buying spree in the technology space just yet.

As posted in the very topical ZDNet blog, Oracle may be on the move once again.
We posted about this here and here, evaluating some of the pro's and con's of the remaining performance vendors out there in the marketplace today, but our Spidey Senses tell us that in this case, we need to think beyond the perhaps strict definition of performance management vendors and think about more broad-based technology and applications vendors in this case.

Perhaps something in the business process management space? What say you Performance Guy Pat?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

PerformancePoint--Oh it's on...It's ON!!!

Gin up the ole PR machine, get your analyst briefing scorecards out, and start standing in line now for one of 1,000,000,000 field events (90% of them planned by Performance Guy Nic) around the world supporting the PerformancePoint Server launch later this fall. You thought the Paris Hilton coverage was a bit much--trust us, she's got nothing on our friends up in Redmond.

Our good friend Russell Damske from the B EYE (get it) network gives us an early preview, and trust me, this is only the beginning. (OK we've really never met Russell but we're sure he'd be a good friend if we knew him).

We're seriously thinking of live blogging the whole launch event here at Performance Guys, we're that excited. Not like Steve Ballmer excited, but very excited--more like Japanese funny dance excited.

PS--Nic is the one in the middle--

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lucid Era Blog

Here's a link worth checking out, LucidEra blog http://www.lucidera.com/blog/ this blog is put together by our good friend Darren Cunningham. LucidEra is an up and coming "on-demand" BI company and as the world of hosted BI continues to grow I'm sure there will be some interesting commentary, be sure to check it out.

Friday, July 13, 2007

You Just Gotta Read This - Open Source BI On the Move

Either it was a slow news week over the July 4th holiday in the states, a great interview, or both. Matt Asay on his CNET blog The Open Road, did an interview with Pentaho's marketing VP, Lance Walter. You know you are dealing with a pro because Lance took the opening softball question from Matt and gave him both barrels, citing a Crystal Reports replacement, as well as the Pentaho win at Universite de Montreal against the entire BI category. The press release is a complete category smackdown of the usual suspects in BI - Cognos, Business Objects and Oracle. Go big or go home indeed.

Also interesting to see Lance speaking kindly of the Jaspersoft camp while asserting that Open Source is big enough for everyone and undercutting those with proprietary technology. This follows rule #2 of marketing - it is not truly a category if you are the only one in it.

Open source is clearly on the rise, and Pentaho seems to be the leading voice in BI. Not only good technology, but good gear. This is not exactly a rule in marketing, but it sure is nice to have. Disappointing that Pentaho seems to be going more corporate as they no longer offer lingerie as a How?Ho! gear selection.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

TIBCO announces a new BPM solution

The worlds of BI, performance management and business process management continue to come closer together. A couple of days ago, software vendor Tibco announced their new iProcess, a management suite of application modules built on open architecture providing and end-to-end development platform for business process modeling. This announcement is just another example of the BI, BPM, and PM worlds coming together and demonstrates the importance of a flexible open architecture.Building on their BI capabilities, Tibco also recently acquired data visualization up-and-comer Spotfire, more commentary on this from Pat here. The momentum in this space will continue later this year as September will showcase even more market changing technology as Microsoft comes to the table with two releases that bring BPM and PM together with the release of PerformancePoint Server and BizTalk Server.

As business climate intensifies the investment in SOA is integral to extract value from BPM initiatives over time. This performance guy smells something else cooking, look for more activity in this area of the market in the near term.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Smart Enough Systems - Read All About It

James Taylor and Neil Raden are out today with their new book, Smart (Enough) Systems, a look at the process of decisioning and a detailed overview of the intersection between business rules, process, business intelligence and measurable business impact. Data and technology you have vs. how you run the business everyday and what people use to make decisions.

I had the chance to preview the book and I think Taylor and Raden do a great job of setting up the arguments and then delivering a lively play by play on how to make technology work in the real world. The book is a great read for anyone struggling with how to make the rubber meet the road and providing information that is relevant about making process an operational discipline. Among the things I like about this book is the passion of the authors (the book starts with a manifesto!), as well as the number use cases and examples they come back to. Many books are great at citing examples from big clients, this book does a great job of painting the use case on an industry level that should make it broadly applicable for near term help and longer term reference. It is kind of nice to read a book with a POV, a how-to, and that also happens to be an interesting read.

Both these guys are well known in the industry and their views can readily be found at conferences and in blogs like James on Decisioning on eBizQ, and Neil on BI in Intelligent Enterprise. I am sure their book will be a success. You can purchase it from Amazon here.

As for the blog, I am back from early month vacation and typical end of quarter excitement and ready to provide some much needed balance to the resident performance Guy. Thanks to Guy for all the heavy lifting over the past several weeks.

Oh, Say Can you See, We Stand on Guard for Thee!

Happy Canadia Day and forthcoming Independence from Kings and Tyranny Day to all our readers this week. As the performance guys are a multi-ethnic melange of Canucks and Yankees, we feel an exceptional amount of pride and gluttony during this week of the summer. May our friendship endure as long as the border is long. Or whatever.