InetSoft Webinar: Agile BI Responding to Cycle of Pain

This is the continuation of the transcript of a Webinar hosted by InetSoft on the topic of "Agile BI Best Practices" The speaker is Mark Flaherty, CMO at InetSoft.

Agile BI is basically responding to that “cycle of pain” that exists within the industry. The cycle of pain is felt by the operational folks, the tactical staff are dealing with systems that had been designed for senior management. And in fact what happens is, this is sort of something we have been using quite a bit because it captures what a lot of our customers feel, is the customer report requests that the end users come with to answer questions, they take a while they are hard to interpret.

They can be interpreted different ways, so you might go back for a segment for mailing, and you need 30,000 names or something, and it ends up with 10,000. It's not enough, so you have got to circle back and may be change the parameters on the prior purchase history or something to get the numbers up, and that’s just as back and forth.

The other side is end users will download data into Excel and try to manipulate it there, which is what they are comfortable with. Excel is the number 1 end-user business intelligence tool today, but it’s limited. It’s got some of the data, but it can't bring all the tables in, and it’s hard to slice and dice in more than a couple of fields. It keeps being used because it was hard to get the people give it up. It becomes the shadow data system.

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What we are saying is this agile BI is not strictly about reporting. It’s about other things such as analysis. Reporting means esthetically presenting collected data. It’s critical. It is essential and answers well-known question. The data in it usually comes from a single system. It can be printed. Its accuracy is supported by senior management.

There is also the need to actually get data out of source databases, which is part of the agile BI environment. At some point, you actually need the list of the 30,000 people to perform the mailing. That’s not an import. That’s an export. Or you are setting up a meeting with some people of yours, the sales side in San Francisco might want the highest rated prospects for the quarter who have not been met in a certain period. That’s a list of 30 people. Then there is a whole another part of BI that’s not reporting it. It’s slicing and dicing and exporting data.

And then there is analytics, essentially what that middle level staff is trying to by interactively evaluating and exploring data. They need the answer to why something happened. They may need to mash up data from multiple systems. Having just the transaction data may not be enough. They may need some profile data.

If it’s a healthcare center dashboard, they may just not need the clinical data. There may be some of the financial data and so forth. And this is about seeing the data and we would say discovering the stories, I mean the data has stories in it, and it's this agile BI movement that can get to the point where the staff who are making decisions can do easy analytics to see the stories in the data. They are going to get better decisions.

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And then precision in this world is tolerable versus the reporting accuracies needed for accounting reports or whatever. And I think one of our clients captures this. The combination of data discovery and visualization enables a form of agile BI. They can uncover hidden relationships that they didn’t know existed. We often hear customers say, why didn’t we have this data before? In fact they did. It was in a report. They just didn’t visualize it. And I would add, they weren't able to drill down in it to really take action on it.

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