InetSoft Webinar: How Can a Large Enterprise Take Advantage of Agile BI?

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.

There are a lot of questions coming in as we move into the discussion section of our webinar. A question, how can a large enterprise take advantage of agile BI, and is there a preferred method or process that is recommended?

One thing about empowering end users and especially if it's empowering by supporting this data discovery and visual analysis, it’s department and problem centric generally. I am sure some of these problems span the enterprise, but most of them get focused.

Like in marketing it could be promotional analysis. Or, it might be sales force performance, pipeline movement and so forth. So even in a sales group, we can have different kinds of problems.

That’s why I think you need these teams where the end users work together with the IT group, and often there are BI people in the functional unit, like there is a sales team BI person who works with central IT.

There is marketing BI person to understand the problems and those questions about what are the end users exactly trying to answer? Who are they? Because what gets delivered has to be set in the frame where those people can consume it reasonably.

#1 Ranking: Read how InetSoft was rated #1 for user adoption in G2's user survey-based index Read More

So enterprise discovery and analysis becomes a sum as I see it a lot of departmental problems solutions, and you need an organization that is, obviously you got central infrastructure IT, but I think it's not just the central IT thing, it's got to be combined with this enabled BI centric department organizational model and by working together, great things can happen.

Okay, we have another question just came in. Do BI implementations always require IT involvement? Is it there a lot of knowledge required about the various database or data warehousing and their respective structures?

Great question. No, they don’t, with some caveats. So if a department of end users were to buy a BI solution, there are probably three or four places IT would need to come in. One is they need access to the data, which is usually in some corporate database or IT-owned database, where it should be. And they need permissions anyways to get at it, which isn’t too hard.

If they are deploying a BI server to enable Web delivery, obviously IT needs to get involved, because the security needs to apply all the corporate rules. You can't just pop a departmental server up in a corporate network and let people add it. At one level these new technologies could enable department to buy 10 seats. You install it on a PC, just to meet the software standards of the organization.

But if those users then have network and permission access to the databases, they can pretty much get going on their own, and it is not like a legacy BI reporting system where it's a big development cycle. They can muck around that data, load the tables, build these things and share them with others without much IT involvement. Now ideally, if key metrics are found and you want to use them generally across the team and other reporting tools, they ought to go back into database. But it’s the end users who define the metrics, understand them and then say, okay now we have got them, let's do some database updates. The answer is yes you can implement a lot of these things with minimal IT involvement today.

view gallery
View live interactive examples in InetSoft's dashboard and visualization gallery.

We have a lot of questions coming in, we actually have two questions that act as a follow-up to the one that you just answered. The first one is, how do we get agile BI at our institution and how does it integrate with different databases? And the other question which is similar to that is, does agile BI assume a foundational integrated set of data that is already available?

Agile BI is a process and an approach. It me changes in how you do the BI development. You change how you review. You change how you manage the project from the start through. Development is not a technology. On the other side of it, there are bunch of software technologies out there today which are pretty flexible at mashing up data from a variety sources.

They can go out and load on-demand or on a schedule like 3 in the morning, 30 tables out of an Oracle database, five more tables from a SQL server database, a couple of Excel sheets that somebody just put together because they did some survey yesterday. It could be BI server with a Web interface. There are number of software products, including InetSoft's, that do that. Obviously, I could hype us, but that’s not the purpose this webinar.

If you did search on data discovery analysis, or visual reporting analysis, or agile BI, you are going to find in most of the current writing on the technologies. And if you are interested we have access to some of these reports we can make available, if you connect with us after the webinar or just put a question in on the question panel. We will get back to you with some of the writing on this.

view demo icon
View a 2-minute demonstration of InetSoft's easy, agile, and robust BI software.

Okay great. Well it seems we are just about out of time. I think maybe we have time for one more question. This one just came in, how can you control the impact of the agile BI tools on the source systems?

Yeah, good question. So there are a set of agile BI tools that don’t write to the source system, like ours. We purposely do not do anything to a source system. We pull from the source systems, and then all of the analysis, slicing and dicing, is done offline from the source systems. You can export lists. You can create metrics in it, but you cannot change anything in the source system.

There are other tools that are also able to write back into the source system. If you want to update cells or add data, you can do it in the source system. And obviously, some require ETL tools and update the source system database. Most of the data discovery analysis tools do not write back to the source system. We view that as the word of truth. We are reading it and making it clear what's in there, letting you analyze it and slice and dice it and export results and merge them, but not change them.

Previous: Today’s BI Tools Are Very Flexible