Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Open Source Reporting on iPhones/iPads

Reporting on iPhones/iPads is an interesting area that has a lot of potential. Yes there is an easy possibility of rendering HTML based reports on an iPhone or similar devices. But those are still in a way the default browser content on which there’s no control of an iPhone’s inbuilt capability to recognize objects and present it in a manner easy for the user to view. It requires some adjustments before we can see it in action.

Open source reporting tool, Pentaho offers a great help in this area. Pentaho provides a plugin which can sit in the server and dynamically render the pages based on whether it is viewed from a typical desktop/laptop or through an iPhone device, for the entire reporting application. This might also be applicable if the results are embedded inside a page of another application through frames, etc.

Here is how it works: Firstly some interceptors are created to detect iPhone requests and re-route those requests to the correct iPhone view. Secondly, an extension is created to allow the parameter forms to render correctly on the iPhone. The user interface can still be designed to suite the branding requirements. The typical interfacing framework can be anything like iUI (User Interface Framework for Mobile Web Devices) and you can build a custom login page and Home page. You can then,
  • Create Navigational Menus and iPhone-style interfaces from standard HTML
  • Create modern mobile web pages
  • Handle phone orientation changes
  • Provide a more "iPhone-like" experience in your Web apps
Similarly, the code is available for android  http://wiki.pentaho.com/display/ServerDoc1x/Deployment+Configuration
Other than Login, Navigation, and Parameter Forms, no changes are actually necessary for Pentaho Platform. This is due to the combination of Pentaho rendering in standard formats, and the iPhone being able to render standard HTML and PDF pages. Below are some samples of the same.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

5 Reasons, SMB’s Should Invest in Business Intelligence Solution

BI turns data into actionable information which supports business in strategic decision making. A strategic deployment of a Business Intelligence solution can have a major impact on the growth and profitability of a company. BI has become quite the ‘buzzword’ in the software industry in the last few years. Many small business owners still relegate BI the domain of only large companies. When a BI solution is built specifically for SMBs, there’s no business too small. Business should understand what to be aware of and how to select the best software while sifting through the marketing buzz of BI trends. As we move towards the information edge, SMBs is now starting to realize that BI can benefit them too. Vendors are getting better at making software that’s easy to use and affordable. Technologies such as open source, cloud, in-memory and visualization technology are making BI tools much more friendly to SMBs.

Here are 5 real advantages that BI can deliver to SMBs:

1)    Information at your fingertips :-
In order to move towards any goal, you first need to know where you are. Manually monitoring your business just isn’t an option. You need the right information right time which meeting the stated business goals at your fingertips when needed. BI software can collect data from a number of sources for different purposes like Trend Analysis, monitor performance, track the marketplace, adjust business direction and plan for future changes. In short your data would be available on fingertip so that you can take strategical decisions in time to be ahead of your competitor Help to answer ‘what if’ questions with a click of a button for better forecasting.

2)    Boost Business Productivity :-
Small businesses, by nature, need to get more done with fewer people! One of the key benefits of BI is that it will automate reporting in your business, saving time and money in the process and ultimately increasing productivity. Reduce resources and labor costs used for the collation, analysis & distribution of vital business data. Can pull data in a format known by Business user to manipulate and distribute meaningful information in the familiar face. Traditionally take days every month to compile. BI can provide real-time automated reports, executable at the click of a button, which draw up-to-date trusted data directly from existing sources and deliver a single version of the truth. By providing on-demand real-time reports, BI plays a significant role in creating time-savings and increased productivity and allows you to start using the information in your system to more effectively manage the business.

3)    Effective Decision Making :-

Right Information can give a complete picture of the performance of your organization. The key performance indicator (KPI) which in turn helps in effective decision making in an identification of chances and risks. The most popular use of business intelligence is in Decision making by monitoring the current performance and forecasting future phenomena, such as customer behavior, demand, and inventory levels. Business intelligence provides you with solid, effective actions you can take to yield measurable results. BI techniques are already helping SMB alike to make smarter, better-informed business decisions. Opportunity, costs and risks can be evaluated up front.

4)    Immediate ROI :-
BI will bring down company's operational costs immediate by improving operational efficiency, minimized total cost of ownership and optimize business processes in the long run. A good business intelligence solution will not only create, but enforce processes to follow from day one. Different Types of ROI organization get benefited via BI solution - Revenue enhancement, Margin protection, Cost reduction, Cost avoidance, Capital cost avoidance, etc. Also see some intangible (qualitative) benefits of strategic value, such as faster reporting, better management information, better decision making, more productive users, efficiency, customer satisfaction, reducing risk and strategic attractiveness.

BI can help to get answers of all your 'W's' such as what, when, where, why etc. to GET WHAT YOU AIM FOR.
Get key business metrics reports when and where you need them. Also can access reports and dashboards on mobile devices like iPhone, iPad, Android or BlackBerry, giving sales and marketing people access to critical business information on the fly. Information with security and control across platforms and devices when & where, in a format as per need, with a single click or as an automated alerts for action. Right information to the right people at the right time using facts-based analysis. Competitive, legal and regulatory requirements can more easily be assessed and planned.
In short BI implementation will help you in achieving “what you aim for” your business.

Are you seeing this as a good deal or something more? Connect to us & we will be most happy to assist you Company wide BI implementation. Write to bi@sigmainfo.net for a free BI consultation.

USA - California

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Suite 100,
Irvine, CA 92612
Phone : (714) 717-1826
Fax : (866) 405 6750

INDIA - Bangalore

Sigma Towers,
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3rd Phase, Bangalore- 560078
Fax : +91-80-40865103

Monday, 25 June 2012

What is Required to Start with Business Intelligence for Organization?

BI turns data into actionable information which support business in strategic decision making. Business Intelligence (BI) project assumes to be integrated with Data Warehouse (DWH) or other reporting solution like data repository or reporting from legacy systems. Therefore BI should be considered as DWH/BI project. So what is business intelligence, and how should your company get started with it? From the vendors’ perspective, business intelligence means software and services that they can sell to you to help you get more information from your existing data. But from Business perspective, business intelligence is more than just software; it is a strategy with specific supporting management processes. Prior to implementing a business intelligence initiative, organizations need to have an understanding of the following five elements.

1)    Understand the Need of Business Intelligence :-
It is important to have a fundamental understanding of business intelligence (BI) & how to adopt it to become useful for business. In short need to define the organization’s BI Philosophy with their strategic goals & Translate Strategy into Action. The communication of strategic goals and data collection is critical to successful BI. The organization needs to have answer of the question: ”What will accomplish with this initiative". Business units can cut significant costs while creating additional value through better coordination, integration, and quality of data and analytical functionality. Strategy for implementing BI projects can greatly upswing returns. Starting small (POC/section) is a good way to understand BI benefits.

2)    Analyze Internal Requirements :-
It is critical that you carefully analyze your current business methods and practices to determine specific objectives for BI implementation. The user requirements drive decisions about the data to incorporate in the data warehouse, how to organize (dimension) the data and how often to refresh the data. “Garbage in, garbage out” requirement should be precisely defined to align with the business needs. BI analysts often focus on the technical questions associated with the analysis. However, a more business-oriented approach could yield better results.

3)    Key Stakeholder Involvement :- 
Top Management, Business User, Operations etc. is the key stakeholders. The sooner you involve them the better you know about your requirements. Most BI projects considered to be the internal project which should meet the company’s internal requirements. However it should reflect the needs of customers and deal with external issues like market situation or customer’s behavior. BI project is organization-wide project, it should involve members from each department especially from Marketing and Sales departments who  appear to be the end-users of knowledge bound BI system. One should not consider internal requirements, but the market and customer requirements as well. Stakeholder involvement ensures full knowledge and understanding of the benefits, impacts and risks associated with BI Implementation. Effective stakeholder engagement is a key ingredient in the success of BI Implementation Project.

4)    Key Data Accessibility for Analysis and Presentation :-
We know that an organization's data is a major asset, and we are well aware of the importance of data quality. Develop & implement a data strategy in such a way that it should not frustrate users. Formulate an overall data strategy by asking, "What data do we need to run/analyze/present. How long, integrating with sources, Level of Detail, data privacy and security etc. BI typically involves the analysis, presentation and delivery of information to Business users via accessing repositories where data is brought together from many different systems across the organization. Business intelligence software promises better decision making and insight into company data, but both are possible with unbridled access to the information stored in a database. If you want to increase competitiveness, need to improve access to data across all levels of the company.

5)    Choose Right Technology Partner :-
The most important part is to make sure your BI initiative success is being evaluated and you have chosen the right Technology Partner. BI initiatives are vastly different from many past IT initiatives in which outside services have been retained. So it’s important to consider proven capability, reputation and track record of success more than just cost and/or staff augmentation abilities, while evaluating a partner. The partner should be able to understand and align with your strategy, take a business-driven approach and support the execution of specific initiatives to meet your business vision. Business should understand what to be aware of and how to select the best software while sifting through the marketing buzz of BI trends. POC, is a formal initiative to prove the viability of the technology as well as partner capability to meet a business defined requirement. Be aware of technology lock-in and know the cost of "getting out".