A Few Thoughts on Mobile Business Intelligence

As the traditional business intelligence tools and techniques get matured, innovations take place, firstly to retain competitive advantage, and then to push the bar further, bringing better capabilities and usefulness. A few offshoots of business intelligence in the past few years were business analytics, operational business intelligence, pervasive business intelligence, interactive dashboards and of course, as the title implies, mobile business intelligence.

Mobiles are recognized to be the future of computing. Today’s mobiles armed with processors with high computing powers and liberal amounts of both volatile and persistent memory, can definitely compete with other channels of interaction with computing infrastructures....

Data Integration Patterns

Gregor Hohpe and Bobby Woolf have written about enterprise integration patterns for messaging solutions, many years back. It is interesting to see that there is hardly any authoritative work like EI Patterns in Data Integration world. There are communities working SOA patterns, already.

One probable reason why patterns did not become a design technique in data integration world is the early entrance of tools and almost complete reliance on them thereafter. Tools implemented the patterns, and everyone used those without explicitly thinking about. At the point, patterns may not add much value in the form of reusable components or solution...

Dimensional Modeling and Semantic Relationships

Modeling data warehouses is sometimes a contentious issue. When it comes to data warehouse design there are a few schools of thought and many sub-schools! One of the often-heard discussions is the different between dimensional modeling and entity-relationship modeling. It is interesting to hear how dimensional modeling and de-normalization are different from modeling transactional systems.

It should be recognized that the concept of dimensions and facts bring a lot of clarity to understanding data analytics, and the loop-free stars and snowflakes help analytical and reporting tools to generate queries easily. However deviations from the entity-relationship model may not be so...

Actionable Information in Real Time

In the past decade enterprises saw a widespread adoption of business intelligence and data warehousing solutions to understand the patterns hidden in data, fragmented across various source systems. Most of these efforts built business intelligence solutions based on structured transactional data generated by business operations. However, information is also exchanged over various unstructured and semi-structured formats such as emails, instant messages, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, news, blogs etc. Such information is not captured by traditional business intelligence and data warehousing solutions, partly because of BI/DW tools and techniques were conceived to deal with structured data.

Today we see enterprises taking a...

A Case for Evolution of Data Warehousing

Data Warehousing has come a long way. The evolution of technology – especially in storage and processing – causes the technical solutions to evolve as well. It is time to revisit the traditional techniques of data warehousing, right from the data modeling aspects.

Most data warehouse implementations, from my experience, focused on quantitative aspects such as managing large volumes of data. There was an interviewer who almost mocked at me when I said I have not worked with terabytes of data. What we missed was the qualitative aspects of data, until it became an imperative. A large portion is then...

Trapped in Star Schema

Fact-less facts – an oxymoron. We had a requirement to track assignments of different individuals to different programs. At any point in time we should be able to retrieve the counts of assignments by various characteristics including the assignment status. Fact-less facts, obviously.

Here is a typical conversation.

“Let’s then design a fact-less fact table.”

“But wait, what’s the granularity for time dimension? The assignments can change any time, any number of times.”

“Probably we should use daily. That’s when the client’s reconcile the systems. Probably weekly would be fine, that’s when the reports are used. Or, monthly? That’s when...

Meta Data Warehousing

Imagine an ideal enterprise where the data is clean and consistent across. This means you can relate the data from one system to another without any transformations or lookups. This is probably the ultimate goal of master data management where the master data across the enterprise is managed for consistency, integrity and accuracy. Imagine ideal systems in that enterprise with data and functional services exposed so that those can be discovered, invoked and orchestrated. This is what service-oriented architecture is moving towards. Imagine these systems having unified authentication mechanisms and access controls. This is probably what enterprise directory services, single...

TIBCO, Integration, Visualization

TIBCO is an established Enterprise Application Integration product. Enterprise Application Integration came out from middleware technologies and right now about to get overridden by Service-oriented Architecture (SOA). In a Service-oriented Architecture communication between various services are fundamental and most of the Enterprise Application Integration patterns will be covered by various components of SOA. Will TIBCO then be an SOA platform? Yes. TIBCO has repositioned itself as an SOA platform already.

There is another paradigm shift that’s happening as service-oriented architectures get implemented in enterprises. Traditionally applications held the data and enterprise application integration tools helped these applications to communicate with...

Information Supply Chain

This is not a new thought. Over the years many people have thought about the information moving within an enterprise and created analogies to supply chains. This is an attempt to think independently on information supply chain.

Information Supply Chain, in my opinion, is to look at enterprise information from the perspective of a supply chain professional, with data replacing materials and goods. Once the supply chain is visualized and defined, it is possible to analyze value additions, optimize information flow and implement better governance.

From this perspective, applications in an enterprise IT landscape performs three functions. They produce data,...

Data and Computation

Business Intelligence (BI) has matured in the past 20 years or so of it’s existence. There has been a lot of developments in software and information technology during this period. One of the significant change is that computation has become cheaper than storage.

When BI was in the defining stages, querying the OLTP databases was not a viable option. This was mainly due to the fact that processing (computing) power was limited in OLTP systems and databases, and adding it would be costlier than moving the data to another place for OLAP analysis. If you tried to execute an analytical...