InetSoft Webcast: Self-service BI and Data Mashups

The DM Radio Webcast, “The Last Mile: Data Visualization in a Mashed-Up” from Information Management continues. The transcript of that Webcast, which was hosted by Eric Kavanagh and included InetSoft's Product Manager Byron Igoe and BI consultants William Laurent and Malcolm Chisholm resumes below:

Eric Kavanagh (EK): That is a really good point. In fact, let’s do this. Let’s focus the roundtable on the evolving role of IT and what IT can take out of this, because things are changing, and you know the old rule of thumb is you can only withstand change so long before it steamrolls right over you.

This whole theme of the evolving role of IT really seems to come into focus here as we’re talking about self-service BI and dashboards and data mashups and so forth.

Alan, let’s talk about this. You have a lot of experience in IT. It is true. I think that a lot of IT people are getting more business savvy, and a lot of business people are getting more IT savvy, and I think also this whole emergence of software as a service is enabling business users to get functionality that they need and start getting things done.

So there does seem like there is an evolution in the role of IT, what’s your take on that and what advice can you give to both sides to come together?

Wille: I don’t know if can give advice, but there definitely are some things that we see consistently, and also best practices that we try share with some of customers. IT is definitely the right place to start as far as making sure the data is connected properly, the performance and the security is handled properly.

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But there is always somewhat of a disconnect between the dashboard module that IT develops and how business has to slice and dice and analyze the data. And I don’t think there is a right or wrong, but there is a happy medium where IT can provide not a fire hose, but a partial data feed that then has the logic in it to allow some non technical users to slice and dice the data without a lot of training.

And I think that actually ties back, and maybe that is the way forward for mashups. We were saying that for self-service BI, it just doesn’t seem to be fulfilling the dream, but on the technical side it is moving forward. So maybe it is paying attention to how do we offer these mashable pieces that do allow them to be attached visually to other data pieces, or allows the business end user to slightly modify the data so that they can see the right time portion, the right context, the right overlay, the right drill-down level, et cetera. So maybe there is a happy medium in there somewhere.

Byron Igoe (BI): Eric, I would love to give you a demo. I hear people talking about, oh, the technology is there, but the self-service isn’t. Our whole paradigm is built around the maximum amount of self-service to the end users. And that starts at the mashup level and goes all the way up to the dashboard level. And IT’s role in all of this is around the initial setup of the underlying sources, the raw data sources, establishment of security best practices and governance, and then making sure performance is right. And essentially they are building this meta data layer where the users can accomplish anything they want to. And it’s provided with drag and drop, point and click interfaces that don’t require any programming, any APIs, nothing technical at all. So either the business users or the business analysts, essentially anyone who is at all facile with Excel, can really play around in their own sandbox and do whatever they want.

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Wille: Yeah, I think that works very well if you have got a user that is into the data. But an occasional user, or if you are talking about pervasive BI throughout the entire organization, does it work for them as well, or do they need something that is a little more locked down?

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