Analytics, BI and ECM should be ONE.

I have tried using Cognos Suite, IBM Alphablox, Microsoft BI, SAP, all of which are bloated products with more than enough features that every user in the corporate environment needs. In a business user's perspective, they are complex because they are fundamentally architectured using the traditional software development environment whereas BI users are nowadays are using it on a browser.

Internet Explorer and Firefox are key access points for BI users. It's smart move, given that its easier to deploy and manage in a corporate environment and easy to migrate in case the company decides to extend it in the Internet or thru a private network to a satellite branch.

The success of Google Onebox is partly due to the complexity of getting the information from a myrad of this expensive and bloated Business Intelligence tools. Google Onebox allows users to search (with data security in mind) all the data available in and outside the organization.

ECM (enterprise content management) is another inovation that is catching up. With the abundance of blogs nowadays, we might have forgotten that behind it is a very user-friendly 'content management system concept', just like Blogger.

Since IBM recently acquired Filenet for $16bn, I am looking forward to the possibility of integrating analytics, business intelligence and content management systems into one. Though I doubt it, I am hoping because BI tools needs a lot of organizing to do.

Gilbert on Thursday, August 17, 2006 4 Comments

IBM WebSphere Content Discovery for Business Intelligence

IBM WebSphere Content Discovery for Business Intelligence enables users to find and take advantage of structured and unstructured information stored across their enterprise. The solution overcomes the limitations of standard business intelligence offerings that typically can analyze and report only on structured data and enterprise search solutions that do not provide direct access to business intelligence data.

Armed with insightful context and relevance capabilities, the new IBM solution delivers deep analysis of free form text fields, documents, audio, video, and other unstructured content, while at the same time providing a complete view of all related business information needed to make rapid business decisions.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee is using WebSphere Content Discovery for Business Intelligence to deliver a more complete view of the health care providers with whom they do business.

"IBM's solution has enabled us to implement a pilot project that demonstrates how Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee can bring all information about a provider into a single view," said Frank Brooks, senior manager of data resource management at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Tennessee. "This includes structured relational data from our enterprise data warehouse, internal and external web content, as well as unstructured data from other content sources such as free-form call center notes. By pulling this information into a single view, we will be able to save time, make quicker decisions, and deliver more information about our provider relationships."

Clients in other industries can reap similar benefits from WebSphere Content Discovery for Business Intelligence. For example, a manufacturer can use the solution to dig deeper into product sales, quality issues, return rates and buying patterns to help maximize profits. While conventional BI applications may display quantity, sales and return rate for a product, WebSphere Content Discovery for Business Intelligence can extract data from call center and warranty claims notes to help uncover reasons why return rates are high — information not easily accessible through other search and business intelligence solutions.

In addition to providing enterprise search across all applications and repositories, the IBM solution delivers highly relevant information from existing business intelligence systems, including reports, scorecards, dashboards and more. Users can also intelligently search directly against underlying data and easily navigate the data through a simplified interface to find information they are seeking without creating reports.

These capabilities, in combination, represent a new era in the convergence of enterprise search and business intelligence, allowing an expanded group of users such as marketers, engineers, technicians, analysts, sales and customer service agents to extract additional knowledge and use it for business insight and problem solving.

WebSphere Content Discovery for Business Intelligence builds upon the open source Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA), a framework for connecting different text analytics modules, which helps identify and extract specific business information from unstructured data, such as comments, description and notes fields that are typically found in most applications for users to enter more details about a claim, a problem or a transaction. This knowledge can enable new types of reports and analysis, or be made available as a service to rules processing engines or other business applications to deliver information on demand. Users can also seamlessly access supporting documents, such as contracts, spreadsheets, project plans, scanned images, audio, video, e-mail and other correspondence, directly from within their business intelligence applications to provide valuable context for business decisions.

The new software helps ensure that BI reports, scorecards, dashboards and other relevant analysis can be displayed with other enterprise content as part of user search results. WebSphere Content Discovery for Business Intelligence provides advanced analysis of BI data, extracting specific information, analyzing the context of the request and refining user intent to deliver more highly relevant search results from all enterprise systems.

IBM has worked with Cognos to integrate the new solution with Cognos 8 Business Intelligence and Cognos Go!. "Cognos and IBM are once again at the forefront of combining powerful search capabilities with business intelligence," said Neal Hill, senior vice president corporate development, Cognos. "WebSphere Content Discovery for Business Intelligence enables customers to extend the value of business intelligence across their organization and provide a new level of business insight."

Users can also search and interact directly with the underlying business intelligence data to take advantage of knowledge extracted from applications without the up front requirement of report development or involvement from additional IT resources. Access to information is simplified with the ability to interpret user intent and context to deliver the most relevant information, and enable users to browse through data. Ambiguity in user queries is resolved while dynamic navigation enables users to drill down to relevant business topics, and helps users select the attributes and information they want displayed.

The solution can be combined with existing business intelligence applications or IBM DB2 AlphaBlox to automatically generate calculations, charts and graphs for enhanced presentation of data without the need for special user training.

Gilbert on Monday, June 05, 2006 1 Comments

Creative vs Apple - a patent lawsuit

If you are an avid mac fan or a flamming Ipod worshipper, you've probably knew the whole story about Creative vs Apple and the much recent news, Apple vs Creative.

The dispute started about the Creative patent for a portable music device that allows searching indexed content. The content is indexed by genre, artist, album, and track. This provides a searchable, intuitive, cross-referenced database via the User Interface. It is basically a relational database patent for a music player.

Apparently the US Patent Office, just awarded Creative the patent last year which they decided to sue Apple this year.

Relational databases already existed way before the MP3 player revolution began, and in my opinion, it is imperative that this great technology will find its way to other devices - such as the case with the portable audio players.

I'm a believer of Intellectual Property. But if technology, innovation and creative thinking is hindered by having "software ideas" patented way ahead by huge companies, we should re-think again.

Gilbert on Monday, May 22, 2006 0 Comments

IBM gets Unicorn to add semantic metadata management

The Big Players (IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft) are progressively putting more of their investments in the once small industry of business intelligence and data management.

IBM just acquired Unicorn, their 18th acquisition since 2001 that are related to data management and BI. This is just to prove the point that the big players are slowly materializing their roadmap to better position their companies to have an end to end solution in data management and process.

IBM in their press release gave a nice definition of what metadata means:

Businesses need to take steps to understand the nature of their systems, processes and information sources - their structures, functions, meanings and interdependencies. This information about systems, processes and information - known as metadata - is critical to key business and technical initiatives.

Metadata is a base requirement of any SOA project. A Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), is a style of systems architecture that breaks down business applications into individual functions called services that can be mixed, matched, and reused to address various business problems. Metadata makes it easier to share services because it enables all parties to understand the meaning, structure and lineage of the information or processes being shared.

Even though they already have a metadata management tool when their acquired Ascential Metastage, this is still a good acquisition for IBM. In the last 2004 Gartner Metadata Quadrant, Unicorn was in the visionary quadrant. Ascential Metastage in that same report was not even in the quadrant because it is still limited compared with other enterprise class tools in that category.

Having the technology of Unicorn in the IBM means better positioning for their Websphere II (Information Integrator) 2007 Edition. This technology will better position WII for better handling semantic metadata management in the future releases.

Gilbert on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 0 Comments