Does your BI system keep up with you?

Does your BI system keep up with you?

Summary: When the information you need for early discovery is drawn from multiple sources and is derived from analytical processes, the speed and accuracy of that information and the accompanying analysis are dependent on the technology that delivers it.

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Commentary - Early awareness enables quick action. Discovering issues before they become problems and being the first to know important information is always advantageous - especially when you can intervene early or turn insight into opportunity. When the information you need for early discovery is drawn from multiple sources and is derived from analytical processes, the speed and accuracy of that information and the accompanying analysis are dependent on the technology that delivers it.

Business Intelligence (BI) and other data-driven applications have helped businesses improve transactions and manage massive data volumes. Many companies rely on BI to provide a composite view of enterprise data as a framework for making well-informed business decisions. Because of their central importance, data applications and the data structures that support them are a major focus of IT.

But as global markets move faster, data volume explodes and data buried in documents, emails, blogs, web sites, etc., becomes increasingly important, companies are bumping up against the limits of these data-centric applications, which offer limited or no access to the enormous realm of information locked in various content repositories.

Unified Information Access (UIA) is emerging as a core technology for dramatically improving the value of existing BI and data applications that rely on data warehouses. UIA, which unites textual information with traditional tabular data in a universal index, does more than incorporate documents into data applications. It also provides rich text analytics, easy-to-use search and discovery paradigms and near real-time information availability. Together, these capabilities deliver broader, deeper and more-timely insight, including trends and connections that could otherwise be missed.

UIA also includes these capabilities:

  • Unified, well-related information to drive actions and applications
  • Pattern detection and proactive analysis across disparate information sources
  • Better user experience - more than simply improved usability:
  • Access to complete, synthesized and actionable information
  • Advanced exploration capabilities – not only a simple search box but also facet recommendations, auto-completion, tag clouds and heat maps
  • The flexibility to discover answers to questions you never thought to ask
  • Complete, relevant and connected insight available on demand so you can confidently act in a timely manner
There are some powerful advantages to integrating UIA with data applications. For example, it’s not necessary to create an additional data mart or carefully design and model relationships in advance. In addition, you don't have to restrict exploration to only the possibilities considered during the planning phase because the system gains intelligence that is applied to future situations.

Here are two scenarios that show how organizations can benefit from adopting UIA:

1. When enterprises need to improve the user experience and business value of existing data applications such as BI, UIA can:

  • Integrate diverse content (website content, documents, PDFs, emails, blogs, etc.) to improve the relevancy of query results. Entities can be extracted from the content to enhance the available data.
  • Simplify discovery, exploration and retrieval by adding a search interface and advanced search methods (faceted navigation, heat maps, tag clouds) to reveal related information as users examine topics

The existing data warehouse is augmented by the UIA universal index, which allows the user to include content sources without relying on the data warehouse and without having to force the content into a tabular form. The complex ETL process required for populating BI applications is avoided because you don't have to fit the content into a predefined table structure. Instead content is indexed and entities are extracted so all relevant information is quickly retrieved in response to a query.

2. When there is a new BI project and IT needs to enhance the data mart with content from any other sources (web content, text, etc.), or when the stakeholders need deeper analytics, instead of building another data mart or redesigning an existing one, the user can use UIA to enhance the current data warehouse and quickly create a new BI solution.

The organization not only gains the flexibility, user experience advantages and inclusion of content and text analytics mentioned above, it also gets faster time-to-value and lower total cost because IT can design and build UIA applications much more quickly than creating a data mart or designing and building traditional database applications.

Companies that are positioned to take advantage of the fast-moving global economy are the ones that empower their people with the means needed to stay ahead of the competition. They do this by providing the information necessary to make timely, informed business decisions. This new level of competitiveness and confidence are fueled by the insight gained from the availability of actionable intelligence through agile technologies such as Unified Information Access.

biography
Sarah Meyer has been the Director of Product Marketing at Attivio since 2008, where she focuses on articulating the value Attivio’s approach to unified information access brings to the challenges companies face in gaining better return on their investment in information. Besides product marketing roles, she has also been a product designer and development manager.

Topics: Data Centers, CXO, Data Management, Enterprise Software, Software, IT Employment

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4 comments
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  • Yes my BO keeps up with me

    "Companies that are positioned to take advantage of the fast-moving global economy are the ones that empower their people with the means needed to stay ahead of the competition"

    I want this fast moving global thingy!

    "Simplify discovery, exploration and retrieval by adding a search interface and advanced search methods (faceted navigation, heat maps, tag clouds) to reveal related information as users examine topics"

    Yes the keep it simple thing, heat mats, name tags. I want this!

    "Pattern detection and proactive analysis across disparate information sources"

    Yes! proactive, like the yoghurt on TV.

    Man I don't know what you're selling, but it sounds delicious! I want that! No I want TWO of them and the free gift!

    Gveme now now now!
    guihombre
  • RE: Does your BI system keep up with you?

    Nice sales piece.

    Throw whatever technology at it you want but you can never 100% compensate for source systems that were not built within a unified information framework. All data warehousing/BI solutions fudge data somewhere along the line to integrate data from disparate sources. And the all-powerful "metadata" is not the silver bullet.

    If CEO/CIOs act now (ha ha) then we might start to see resolution to data integration issues in maybe 10 years time. By all means market the BI tools but lets stop pretending that it is possible for such technology alone to solve data integration issues.
    xBeanie
  • And just where does data quality fit in this??

    The following statement is a joke:
    "The complex ETL process required for populating BI
    applications is avoided because you don't have to fit
    the content into a predefined table structure. Instead
    content is indexed and entities are extracted so all
    relevant information is quickly retrieved in response
    to a query."

    Not one single word on data quality.

    I've been on this market for 20 years now and the
    problem still remains the same: the usefulness of a
    data warehouse relies on the quality of the data you
    manage to store. Garbage in = garbage out is still the
    single most unanswered question and every new method
    or technology claiming to improving BI fails to point
    their finger and find an answer to this.

    BI tools have to bear this responsibility if they want
    to make claims such as providing "Access to actionable
    information"

    Maybe it's all our fault (IT pros) as we don't know
    how to sell our own pain and messy situation to
    stakeholders and instead let clever marketing people
    do the job for us.
    chfalcao