Meg Whitman, Dianne Green, Ginni Rometty, And Others Who Rocked It This Week in Enterprise Tech

I’m just back in the office after a knock out week in the Bay Area last week. Spent it meeting a number of our customers in the valley and also at the Summit on Customer Engagement which IT Central Station sponsored. Besides that, there was a whole lot of other interesting developments in the enterprise tech space, many of which were announced by some of the female titans in tech today. Fitting for a week that included International Women’s Day:

Meg Whitman, CEO of HPE, announced that HPE bought Nimble Storage for $1B. Great move by HPE as the enterprise flash storage market is on fire, and Nimble was trading at a low price due to some recent earnings misses. Whether this was an opportunistic move or a strategic one, I think this will be considered one of Meg’s top moves at HPE to date. Among the top enterprise all-flash array vendors, Nimble Storage has a 9.1 ranking (based on 35 Nimble Storage reviews), which is higher than EMC, NetApp, or HPE 3PAR.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty announced with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff a “landmark” strategic partnership between Salesforce and IBM. It’s all about adding predictive intelligence from IBM Watson into the Salesforce platform which sounds to me more about vision than short term business for either company. After putting on this PR show, Salesforce announced shortly thereafter that it missed its expected earnings and sales forecasts, due to greater competition from other cloud software providers.

Diane Greene, SVP of Google Cloud, and Bernd Leukert, an executive board member for SAP products and innovation, announced that SAP has partnered with Google to deliver SAP HANA on Google Cloud Platform. It’s a big win for both SAP and Google. It gives SAP more credibility in its movement to cloud, and it gives Google enterprise chops as it doubles down on the enterprise market (for example, Google’s new Hangouts for Enterprises.)

CA Technologies continues its acquisition spree in the DevOps market. CA President and Chief Product Officer Ayman Sayed announced that CA had bought Veracode. Veracode is most often compared to HPE Fortity, Checkmarx, and WhiteHall Sentinel by IT Central Station reviewers. In a review of Veracode, an IT Central Station member writes “Veracode is not cheap, but it is a tool capable of giving dynamic, static and even manual scan results in one platform. Veracode is one of very few options out there, and the very best.” In terms of room for improvement, he writes that it is lacking “to be able to upload source codes without being compiled. That’s one feature that drives us to see other sources.” Read all Veracode product reviews here.

 

SAP vs. OBIEE Review Roundup: Enterprise Wrestling Match

Wrestling for a position in an enterprise-level match up, both SAP and Oracle, SAP BO vs OBIEE, provide business intelligence (BI) solutions that are typically central to mission-critical reporting and strategic planning for most organizations. Each wSAP BI vs Oracle BIill be awarded points during the match for a “take down” or “reversal.” In some cases, a clear “pin” secures the match.

Both very competitive, SAP and Oracle could win depending on the circumstances of the day. Consider an evaluation of the match up before going the mat here on IT Central Station.

To see a full product comparison, check out SAP BO vs. OBIEE.

Here are a couple of reviews to highlight:

SAP BO – “Provides a platform for developing reporting that can be used by end users, which will give relevant, consistent and correct results. Also, ability to combine data, I created a report based on SAP data from BW and combined it with data from SQL server to be able to report on the data in a way that would not have been possible to do except with manual steps. The solution I built replaced a manual process that would take 3 weeks and provided an automated solution. We were able to get the critical analysis in a small fraction of time and able to run the business better as a result. Can be a little buggy. As with any system you need to do the work to set up the foundation; nothing is as easy as you install it and all your problems are solved.” Read the full review here.

OBIEE – “Exalytics combined with Exadata server makes it possible to query ~ 50TB of datamart data (uncompressed size), that’s really great and ~ 1000 of simultaneous requests.In the past it was not possible to join data from so many different sources due to the performance limitations imposed by the size of the data Self service BI. It’s clear that Endeca tends to be integrated into BIFS and probably self-service functionality will be covered by Endeca.” Read the full review here.

You can also look at a comparison of the two products matched up: SAP BO vs OBIEE or the BI RFP Templates available at IT Central Station, in the right corner of the Business Intelligence Category Page.

 

Databases, Decisions, and Disruption

This week’s guest blogger is Eric Evans. Eric has over 20 Years of experience enabling organizations through multi-disciplinary technology strategies and agile information systems management. Go to IT Central Station to read his reviews of Solarwinds NPM, IBM Cognos, Oracle E-Business Suite and other enterprise solutions. Contact us if you would like to be one of our guest bloggers.

By now most of us are well aware of the data explosion, that businesses are creating more data than they can effectively manage. This is not aADD_Evans new problem. Throughout history societies have always made efforts to create repositories to organize, analyze and store documents (recorded knowledge). Some of these ancient repositories still exist today in the form of “brick and mortar” libraries. But just like anything else in a consumer’s market, demand (Time-To-Solution) eventually becomes greater than the supply (Information Available/Accessible).

The global economy is currently undergoing a fundamental transformation. Market dynamics and business rules are changing at an ever increasing speed. Those responsible for keeping the company on track for the future have a massive need for high-quality data–both from inside and outside the company. Technology decision makers are facing the challenge of having to create infrastructures that leverage speed, scale and availability.

Data technology must assist in the removal of silos and support collaboration and the sharing of expertise across the company and with business partners. Successful companies will need access not only to their own “Data repository” but to data from various heterogeneous sources. Today, finding mission-critical data or even being aware of all potential sources is more a question of luck and intuition than anything else.

How important is your data to your organization? How does your organization use its data? How do they access and interact with it? Are the decisions being made from data, innovative or disruptive in nature? What’s the value and impact?

According to a Forbes article written by Caroline Howard, “People are sometimes confused about the difference between innovation and disruption. It’s not exactly black and white, but there are real distinctions, and it’s not just splitting hairs. Think of it this way: Disruptors are innovators, but not all innovators are disruptors — in the same way that a square is a rectangle but not all rectangles are squares”.

Database accessibility is critical for rapid but sensible, innovative and disruptive decision making. A business database management system must be able to processes both transactional workloads and analytical workloads fully in-memory. By bringing together OLAP and OLTPL to form a single database, your organization can benefit dramatically from lower total cost up front. Additionally, gaining incredible speed that will accelerate their business processes and custom application.

SAP HANA DB takes advantage of the low cost of main memory (RAM), data processing abilities of multicore processors and the fast data access of solid-state drives relative to traditional hard drives to deliver better performance of analytical and transactional applications.

Fusing SAP HANA with a scalable shared memory platform will enable businesses and government agencies running high-volume databases and multitenant environments to utilize high-performance DRAM that can offer up to 200 times the performance of flash memory to help deliver faster insight.

Here’s my analogy: players go to the “Super Bowl” for one of two reasons, to watch or participate. To be successful in today’s global market companies must effectively participate or risk being on the sidelines watching.

Microsoft BI vs SAP Business Objects—Best in Show

“As we all know both Business Objects and Microsoft are big companies who are working on BI solutions and both have their own advantages, ” says Sasan Ahmadi Asl, a real user who outlMicrosoft BI vs SAP Business Objectsines what works well for him in his environment.

The key point is that what he’s saying is based on his experience using the solutions. Your “Best in Show” depends on your implementation, your environment, and your business needs.

Here’s his complete comparison review: Microsoft BI vs. SAP Business Objects

 

So what BI solution would you consider as your “Best in Show?” Here’s the top five BI vendors by reviews to consider when making a decision:

If you’re a vendor and want to get involved check out How do we engage with this community?  Regarding reviews, if you’re a real user of any BI solution follow this formula to hear from peers and demonstrate your expertise:

  1. Read one
  2. Write one
  3. Comment on two

Getting involved with what the Wall Street Journal calls the “Yelp for Enterprise IT” will have a huge impact on your buying decisions. To get more acquainted with social media for B2B, check out this post: IT Central Station Named One of the “Top 3 Highlights for B2B Tech Social Marketing

 

 

 

Good Tidings—Congratulations to The Top Reviewers of 2013

Thanks to all contributors for a solid year of review building and relationship building.Contributors Thank You

Top contributors have been recognized, vendors are joining—and best of all—the community has become the leading source for real reviews from real users!

A special thanks to the following IT Central Station Top Reviewers of 2013.

 Top Reviewers of 2013
# 1 Fabrizio Volpe
Review of Lync Server 
# 2 Henry
Review of FAS Series
# 3 Larry D.
Review of Compuware 
# 4 Lee Eckersley
Review of Sisense Prism
# 5 jfuhrman
Review of SAP BusinessObjects
# 6 David Varnum
Review of Fluke Networks
# 7 Alex Kriegel
Review of HP ALM
# 8 Martin Butler
Review of Cognos

For more information about becoming a contributor, see Become a Contributor.

For more information about IT Central Station, see About IT Central Station.

How to Successfully Manage BI Dashboard Projects

This week’s guest post is by Fernando Bustillo. He is a Business Intelligence and Data Warehouse expert and has experience working with SAP Business Objects, Oracle, Teradata and other enterprise solutions.  Contact us if you would like to be one of our guest bloggers.

IntroductionguestFB

The fact that many dashboards seem to be a single visual screen or eye candy screen could make one believe that it is easy to manage. This could be the first reason why your project will be unsuccessful: underestimating “the enemy”.  In my broad experience working with BI (Business Intelligence) projects, most of them related with dashboards, I have appreciated the difficulty of building a dashboard that needs to be accurate, useful, functional, with quick answers and eye candy. Dashboards are used as a tool for the managers and executives of the organization, and need to be adapted to their requirements and likes. In this review, I’m sharing the major points to consider at the time to manage a successful dashboard project.

What is a dashboard?

There are several definitions of a dashboard. Stephen Few gave us a good example in the March 2004, article titled “Dashboard Confusion” which appeared in Intelligent Enterprise magazine:

A dashboard is a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives; consolidated and arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored at a glance.

Typical examples are the simple dashboard of a car and the more complicated of an aircraft. In the case of an organization or a company, we as BI designers have to be open minded because the requirements of a dashboard project normally include:

  • Multiple dashboards, each with its own objective
  • Drill-down ability to analyze information
  • Links to detailed reports
  • Additional functionality: navigation, what-if analysis, ability to share information, internal communication, export data, print, send by e-mail, etc.
  • Metadata information

Car dashboard:

guestBI1Sales dashboard:

guestBI2

Dashboard success factors you have to know

Depending on the dashboard type, you have to pay special attention to different factors. Strategic dashboards are normally used for monitoring the global company’s progress in achieving predefined goals. In this type of dashboard, users are at the top of the hierarchy, so the quality of data is very important. In addition to consolidating the information, it is important to ensure the information is correct and accurate. Nobody wants the CEO consulting the dashboard with incomplete or erroneous information. The information must be complete and valid before it is visualized on the dashboard.

Tactical dashboards are usually used for tracing the trends in relation to company’s goals and initiatives. This type of dashboard normally incorporates three types of data: detailed, summarized and historical. The users normally navigate from the first visual screen to the OLAP (On Line Analytical Process) system to analyze the information and to review detailed reports. This explains the need for a deep functional system with a quick response time, which is a challenge if the amount of data is large.

Operational dashboards are used for monitoring and analyzing the most detailed company’s activities in a given department. Normally this is related with real time or near real time, so decisions about ETL (Extract Transformation Load) process are important. Most of the operational software include their own dashboard modules. The use of this module bypasses the problem of load time, but normally with a loss of functionality. The difference of project development time is very large.

If there isn’t an indicators dictionary, you have to create it. Establishing a precise and accurate definition of metrics and indicators will facilitate the understanding of the dashboard and further promotion. End users have to understand the meaning of the dashboard if they are going to utilize it. Also, the indicators definition has to be accessible from the dashboard.

One needs to ask, is all data available? Very often, strategic data are not saved in any corporate database; instead they are saved in personal documents like spreadsheets and presentations. This presents a difficultly in the process to load the data in the dashboard.

The dashboard needs to be integrated into the organization, so it is important to consider corporative aspects: logos, colors, fonts, menu, etc. Are there similar systems? If so, use a similar look and feel.

What’s better, a very precise classic table with the exact data or the newest graphs full of colors and shapes?

guestBI3guestBI4

The world of data visualization is changing rapidly, with the trend to use complex graphs and infographic techniques to visualize information in an impactful way. Also the concept of big data is changing our relationship with the world of information. That’s perfect for powerful presentation, but not always for a dashboard. We have to decide in each dashboard the graphic elements that better represent the business event we need to monitor. Speedometers, gauges and meters are a current trend, but they use so much space to represent only an indicator. Pie charts are good for comparison, but they are not precise. Tables are boring, but accurate. Bar and line charts are classic, but functional. A combination of areas, bars and lines on a chart is often a good choice.

The dashboard is not a static screen, since the user must interact with it. Not only print and export, but also select and filter data. Using charts as a filter should be very intuitive. Users expect tables to have drill-down functionality. The navigation has to be clear and intuitive. At any time, users need to know the level of information that they are consulting.

Manage expectations. Because dashboard tools offer more and more built-in functionality, it is common to see users waiting for the latest function they have heard or waiting for drill-down ability that you have not developed. It is important to show examples of other dashboards developed with the same tool. Building prototypes is one of the best ways to manage expectations. It has to be clear how users will interact with the dashboard.

Don’t wait until the end of the project to show the dashboard. Designing a good dashboard is not easy, no matter the experience you have. It is not possible to get it right the first time, so you have to build prototypes and quick developments to validate it with end users. They have to validate navigations, graphs, colors, fonts, data and all the important functions.

Dashboard development can have the potential to never end! This could be a great business opportunity for consulting companies but a headache for the project manager. As long as end users like the dashboard, they often want to make changes to incorporate more information and functionality. At this moment, it is important to have a limited scoped project.

As the world changes, business changes. Dashboards have to change according to business needs. Don’t forget to manage a maintenance agreement to guarantee that the dashboard will evolve according to new requirements.

Summary

A dashboard project could be an easy project to manage with few resources in a short time, or a big project that involves multiple resources with different skills: data visualization, business knowledge, database experts, technicians, consultants and managers. We need a good project definition and limited scope for making a realistic plan. To avoid failure with user’s expectations, make prototypes and rapid developments to show preliminary dashboards to the end user. If the project is large, separate it into phases for short-term results.

Read reviews of Business Intelligence Tools from real users at IT Central Station. See reviews of Microsoft, Tableau, and other BI vendors.

 

Forrester and Forbes Chime in on B2B Social Media

Forbes_Forrester_Logo_Last week Forrester wrote about  IT Central Station and B2B social media in its new report, “The Social Media Habits of B2B Customers.”

Forrester writes that, “…the most popular social communities tend to be niche ones focused on specific objectives, such as IT Central Station, Cisco Communities or SAP Community Network…”

Zachary Reiss-Davis, an analyst for Forrester who helps marketing leadership professionals, gives more insight to the report on his blogs posted on Forbes and Forrester. What’s clear is the evidence that B2B customers use social media for decision-making more now than ever. Check out this graphic from the report:

Forrester_Graph_Social_Media

Although the report provides “a B2B-focused analysis of the landscape for the social marketing playbook,” you don’t have to wait to execute your strategy.

B2B Social Media

You can get started right here on IT Central Station—for example, try this approach:

  1. Read one.
  2. Write one.
  3. Comment on two.

Reviews that is!

If you want to dive a little deeper, take a look at this face off: Microsoft BI vs SAP BI Comparison.

The Wall Street Journal calls IT Central Station the “Yelp for CIOs.” Whether you’re a vendor finding out what folks are saying about your products or you’re a real user—peers helping peers in online social media is where you can find the exact details that you might need to make a crucial decision for your organization.

Why is the BBC Grumbling about SAP Business Objects?

SAP WhiningSAP’s roadmap causes grumblings at the BBC—a typical challenge for most enterprises when considering their current and future BI solutions. The challenge often centers around current investment and the ability to afford upgrades and consequent license expenses.

In some cases, the upgrades are crucial for improved profitability based on better functionality. In other cases an enterprise might be holding down costs and cannot afford the upgrades, and might not even get the added value promised by the upgrades!

Do you think the whining is justified?

Let’s check out some of what Simon Griffiths, the head of the BBC’s finance intelligence team, said in this post:

“Where the product is going isn’t clear. Version BI 4.0 is out there now, but we are on a slightly older version of Business Objects. It is continually evolving and you always need to keep up with the game, but organisations that are looking to save cash don’t necessarily want to be forking out money all the time.”

Griffith further said that the BBC is now an organisation [British spelling and probably accent] that is ‘just managing cost’ after the license fee was fixed by the government for the coming decade, and that SAP’s recent acquisitions are confusing for end-users who don’t know what they mean for their existing investments.

You might need to compare this with what others are saying. Check out this excerpt from a favorable review on IT Central Station from another real user:

“Business Object is truly a scalable and complete business intelligence solution for larger organizations.  We have made use of the following components:  Live Office, Xcelsius, Crystal Reports, Web Intelligence.” Read the complete review here.

Also take a look at this comparison of Microsoft BI vs SAP Business Objects on IT Central Station.

This type of information is critical to enterprise tech buyers in many settings. Before vendor purchases—and during a heavy engagement with your current sales rep—hearing from your peers and others can help you make some good evaluations and comparisons that you would otherwise have to hunt for online.

Also take a look at this lineup of BI tools:

 

  Ibm                                                                   

Cognos Express    SQL Server Reporting . . .     QlikView        Microstrategy

Access the product page for SAP Business Objects on IT Central Station here: Business Objects.

Patrick T Campbell

IT Central Station Named One of the “Top 3 Highlights for B2B Tech Social Marketing”

forrester_logoWe are very proud that Forrester Research has recognized IT Central Station as one of the year’s top three highlights for B2B tech social marketing. It’s another validation that we are disrupting the B2B tech buying process through the power of crowdsourcing, online reviews and professional social networking.

Kim Celestre, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, published the Top Twelve B2B Tech Social Marketing Highlights which includes leading players in the business-to-business social media market including LinkedIn, Google, Salesforce.com, Marketo, Eloqua, and Buddy Media. The post also recognizes innovative social marketing programs run by technology vendors including Oracle and SAP. The launch of IT Central Station was the #3 highlight of the year under the heading “Professional social networks got B2B marketers’ attention.”

Here’s an excerpt:

The past year was a remarkable one for B2B social marketing as seen by the acceleration of B2B social media adoption, rapid consolidation of the social media platform market and the evolution of digital and social marketing.

Professional social networks have great influence on technology decision-makers, who tap into the expertise and feedback from peers. We saw significant growth in existing professional social networks and the introduction of some new ones.  For example, IT Central Station, the ‘Yelp For The Enterprise’ was launched in the fall to provide CIO’s with a place to read and contribute reviews on technology solutions.

We are honored to be recognized by Forrester Research. The past year was an exciting one for us, and the coming year looks even better.

What can you do to be a part of this revolution? The best way to start is to follow products that interest you. Once you’ve done that, write a product review or apply to be an Expert Reviewer on IT Central Station.