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james mandrid

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Recent posts by james mandrid

Global Business Intelligence (BI) vendor, Yellowfin, is set to release a new native application for the iPad that CEO Glen Rabie says will “redefine” Mobile BI.

The details of the soon-to-be released app have been kept a closely guarded secret, although it is understood that developments include a completely restyled User Interface and “significantly enhanced” functionality.

“Yellowfin’s new application for the iPad brings together our renowned usability and collaboration capabilities,” said Rabie. “It will offer a unique and compelling mobile reporting and analytics experience.

“By combining unparalleled user-friendly interactivity and information collaboration within a single application, Yellowfin is set to change the way people use and think about Mobile Business Intelligence.”

Rabie said that the desire to create an absorbing and intuitive end-user experience drove application development from start to finish.

“User experience has been at the core of this development from day one,” said Rabie. “Yes the new app includes all the latest market-leading functionality that our customers have come to expect, but the sheer ease-of-use and depth of interactivity were always the main focus.

“Yellowfin is about to deliver an enterprise mobile application for reporting and analytics that is genuinely enjoyable to use. We believe that people will find it as fun and easy as browsing their favorite online magazine, or sharing ideas across their social networks of choice.”

The well-documented trend towards user-friendly enterprise products for analytics – the consumerization of BI – proved a major driving force behind Yellowfin’s decision to undertake the project.

“At Yellowfin, we fundamentally believe that advances in both consumer and enterprise mobile technologies, in conjunction with shifting working habits and environments, means that a significant proportion of BI will be consumed via mobile devices – primarily tablet PCs,” said Rabie.

“We also believe that both consumer-oriented and mobile capabilities hold the key to markedly increased and sustained BI user adoption. And sustained user adoption is the best way to achieve ROI for any BI project.”

Leading research groups, including Gartner, Forrester and Aberdeen back Rabie’s assertions regarding the need for, and potential benefits of, BI usability and mobility.

Gartner’s 2011 BI Magic Quadrant report listed ‘ease-of-use’ as the new number one consideration when purchasing a BI platform, surpassing ‘functionality’ for the first time. Gartner also recently predicted that 33 percent of BI functionality would be consumed via handheld devices by 2013. Forrester Research claims that “enterprise mobile workers will make up 73 percent of the workforce in 2012”.

And the Aberdeen research report – Mobile BI: Actionable Intelligence for the Agile Enterprise – found that companies with Mobile BI can make critical business decisions six times faster than organizations without a mobile platform for reporting and analytics. A recent Aberdeen survey of 277 companies using BI found that employee usage of BI systems doubled with the introduction of Mobile BI.

Yellowfin offers customers the ability to receive mobile analytics out-of-the-box, on any device or platform, via native applications for the iPhone, iPad, Android platform and new HTML 5 integration.

Yellowfin’s new application for the iPad will be publicly available for free download from Apple’s App Store by mid November.
10 years ago
Global Business Intelligence (BI) vendor, Yellowfin, as been invited to present at the inaugural UK Open Source BI User Group Event in London, Thursday 8 September 2011.

To register, follow the link:

The event, hosted by Meteorite Consulting, is designed to provide information to help organizations select and implement innovative BI, data warehousing (DW) and data integration solutions.

Strategic Alliances and Product Manager, Daniel Shaw-Dennis will conduct Yellowfin’s presentation. Shaw-Dennis will discuss the continued consumerization of BI and Yellowfin’s ability to deliver end-user focused reporting and analytics.

“Business Intelligence is becoming an increasingly business centric and business driven initiative,” said Shaw-Dennis. “As a result, BI products with ease-of-use, mobile and collaborative functionality will gain considerable traction in the marketplace.”

The free session, themed ‘BI Servers’, will showcase emerging and cost effective technologies that provide innovative alternatives to the traditional BI, DW and ETL vendors.

The event will be held quarterly and provide an opportunity for organizations considering BI projects to network with those already using the latest open source and commercial solutions.

The UK OSBI Quarterly User Group seminar – ‘BI Servers’ – will be held from 6pm (London time), Thursday 8 September 2011 at Skills Matter Exchange, 116-120 Goswell Road, London.

Follow the link to register:

10 years ago
For years now the catch-cry of the Business Intelligence (BI) industry has been – “Pervasive BI” – the concept of delivering BI to everyone within an organization. So why has this mantra not been realized and transformed into action, and more importantly, results?

The answer is that traditional BI developers focus on the features of their product and forget about its usability. The end-user comes second.

At Yellowfin we realize this is a grave and counter-productive mistake. If “users” can’t use a BI tool, what good is it? Software that is difficult to use will not have a high rate of user adoption. Without a high level of adoption, your BI project is doomed to failure.

Be vigilant, and watch out for these warning signs that indicate your current BI solution has serious usability flaws and inhibits end-user adoption.

1. Frequent user support requests
When your new BI system is introduced, everyone will ask for help. Fine. But, should issues surrounding usability persist past the initial implementation stage, and mass confusion remain, it’s time to reassess the usability of your BI tool or the training offered.

2. No requests for assistance
Conversely, if your user community is inaudible shortly after implementation, something is wrong. You haven’t magically implemented a BI program with no glitches and an interface SO intuitive that everyone can tap into its full functionality without a single question or utterance. Chances are:
• It’s implementation was not announced loudly enough – people don’t know about the new BI system and aren’t using it
• Users aren’t using it because the transition is daunting and the tool too hard to use independently
• User aren’t utilizing its full range of features
• Nobody knows how to ask for help

3. Continued reliance on excel spreadsheets for reporting
Whilst it’s wise practice to select a BI tool that recognizes spreadsheets as a legitimate data sources to help wean users off them, if they continue to be used as a favored data collation and analysis method, something’s wrong. A well-implemented BI solution will migrate users from a spreadsheet mind-set to a reporting one.

4. Office chatter about usability
You’ve chosen the BI tool with all the best and most appropriate features – the most insightful BI tool on the market – and you’re expecting a high return on investment (ROI). However, office chatter reveals that the tool is difficult to use and its presence is viewed as an additional burden. This represents a barrier to user pervasiveness, and hence your ROI. With all the excitement about functionality, its usability was overlooked.

5. Continued resistance: I liked things the way they were
Users start pining for the old system – a sure hindrance to widespread user adoption and the success of your BI project. This could mean that the new BI tool isn’t suitable, or the implementation process wasn’t mindful regarding the needs of end-users.

6. User drop-off
The number of users should gradually rise as people adjust to, and adopt, your new reporting and analytics solution. But, if usage numbers begin to decrease soon after implementation, it’s a definite indication that you have a problem with your BI environment. The issue could be that:
• Users are finding it difficult to adapt to the BI tool – perhaps some extra training sessions are required to pinpoint specific problems.
• Your BI tool is not delivering the insights that it promised – you need to reassess your BI environment with your user community at the forefront of your readjustment.

7. Your BI tools aren’t used to support executive strategic decision-making
A successful BI environment relies on a solid implementation process, creating a supportive user environment and managerial / user mindset towards analytics and reporting. The technology itself is inextricably interlinked to these other factors. If a BI tool can successfully deliver insights in key areas such as sales, marketing and finance, the executive team will want to implement it across other areas of the business. If it doesn’t deliver, executives will develop a negative mindset surrounding your BI tool, and will be unwilling to use it in cross-departmental strategy formation, reducing its effectiveness, and potential to achieve ROI.

8. Poor strategic decision are made
If bad strategic decisions are not an irregular feature of your business landscape following BI implementation, this means:
• The BI tool is incapable of delivering the appropriate data analysis
• You’re not collecting the correct data for your BI tool to analyze
• Decision-makers aren’t using your BI tool and are relying on ‘gut feel’ because:
• They find the tool difficult to use
• They have discarded it because it is incapable of delivering the results they (rightly or wrongly) thought it would

9. Struggling to receive executive backing and funding for upgrades
If you can’t secure funding in next year’s budget for BI upgrades, the project obviously isn’t viewed as a priority by management. In which case you need to:
• Make sure you are clearly articulating the business benefits of expansive operational BI
• Reassess your current BI set-up to ensure that it is delivering everything it promised prior to implementation

Conclusion: where to next?
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to rethink your existing BI program. Business needs and business users should always be the primary consideration when developing or selecting a BI tool. Yes, BI is implemented and administered by technical experts. But, as the name suggests, it is for business users.

If end-users are included in the selection and implementation process they will be more likely to embrace your BI solution and ultimately help foster a successful BI roll out. This doesn’t mean you should neglect the needs and preferences of your technical users. Just be mindful of the fact that they represent a small portion of your overall BI users. Ensure that the analysis undertaken by your tech-team can be easily shared with non-technical users in a fast, easy to understand, timely manner. End-user adoption is the key to a successful BI program
11 years ago
Yellowfin just released our latest whitepaper, feel free to read and provide any comments back.

Whitepaper - PDF Link
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Despite all of the technology advancements, excel spreadsheets are still widely used by business users to create stand alone databases that allow them to merge external and internal data for reporting and analysis purposes. There are many reasons why this occurs, however; fundamentally it is because the business user does not have a viable alternative. They use spreadsheets because
they do not have a choice. Spreadsheet reporting exists because:

1. Not all decision making data is accessible, centralized or formalized
2. Business users lack alternative tools to create and share their reports
3. Business users lack IT support to access their data in a timely manner

The lack of access to a BI tool that supports spreadsheets as a data source and the lack of IT priority assigned to managing the spreadsheet data issue contribute to the continued use of spreadsheets as a reporting tool.

As a result organizations put themselves at tremendous risk when basing decisions on spreadsheets that are recognized as being prone to error and are limited in many ways. Risks include:

1. Lack of regulatory compliance
2. Lack of data governance & data quality
3. Delayed access to data for decision-making
4. Lost productivity
5. Dependency on the spreadsheet gatekeeper

In this whitepaper we explore why spreadsheet reporting is pervasive. Why is it that business users continue to rely on spreadsheets for so much of their reporting needs. In addition we will explore what the ramifications of spreadsheet reporting are, including the risks and issues that it poses to organizations and what steps can be taken to mitigate these.

Beyond that, we analyze why Business Intelligence solutions need to accommodate spreadsheet reporting. Spreadsheets do provide very real value to an organization but the cost and risks need to be minimized.

This can easily be achieved with the appropriate BI tools, corporate governance and common sense. In this we will focus on the technology that has to underpin spreadsheet management within an organization, and what is involved in adopting Business Intelligence with spreadsheets as a data source.

Spreadsheet reporting can be managed, and utilized to the best of its abilities. This white paper will explore these issues in further detail.
12 years ago
(CRN Magazine) Logistics is getting smarter thanks to data warehousing and business intelligence.
When logistics systems run well they re like the umpire at a cricket match. We all know that they re around but we don t really notice them. But if they make a mistake then the spotlight shines brightly on their every move.

Today s supply chain is far less forgiving and demands greater efficiency and bang for buck than it ever has. A number of technologies allow businesses to wring out every dollar of value from the supply chain.

And it s two older technologies that we re seeing as the main enablers of this change: RFID and business intelligence.

With many years of experience in warehousing and logistics Stuart Jones national transport manager of McKey Distribution says that the last few years have been about data convergence.

Distribution companies can pull data from several sources and combine it into a single system that can predict or explain problems.

"It s the meeting of different types of source data such as telematics route management into a visible and usable system that can enhance operations especially in day to day activities. That would be the key thing."

McKey Distribution delivers food products to over 800 hundred delivery points right across the country. It boasts two of the longest delivery routes in the world running 2800 and 3200 kilometres. The distributor delivers food that needs temperature control and can have a short shelf life. When the supply chain is working at its optimal McKey knows food can arrive to its customers on time and in good condition.

McKey Distribution uses software from Infor. Route Pro is used to manage the complexity of a supply chain that is time-critical. It manages stock picking from the warehouse based on expiration dates and takes into account delivery times so that the customer gets a product that is fit for consumption.

David Fenner manager of the industry development group at Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions agrees that the assimilation of more data sources has been the most important trend of recent years. His group is tasked with bringing solutions to the global market.

"The point of activity has been a movement from data capture within the four walls to data capture outside the four walls. There are more solutions using a wide variety of remote communications " he says.

Despite the trend to collect data throughout the supply chain the technology that was meant to deliver data from manufacture to disposal - radio frequency identification (RFID) - hasn t been universally taken up.

Chris Stephenson Australian managing director for Manhattan Associates says there hasn t been a significant uptake of this technology.

"Things like the Walmart initiative which received a lot of play a few years ago now is not being actively pursued. Although that s not been publicly announced there s not a lot of pressure [from Walmart] on suppliers." Manhattan Associates sells supply chain software and it has hundreds of customers in Australia; not one is using RFID even though the software supports it. RFID is "a nascent technology purely because it s a technology trying to find a solution. It s turned into a closed solution benefit " says Fenner.

RFID has been around for quite some time. Modern systems were patented about 40 years ago and are found all over the place. One of the most common applications is in the e-tags used by toll road operators to collect revenue and track traffic movements.

Active RFID tags contain a battery and transmit data to a receiver without any external stimulus. Passive tags don t have a battery and react to an external signal to provide data. However there are battery assisted passive tags that lay dormant until they receive an external signal.

As well as providing a tracking mechanism RFID tags can store data as product information. For example beef exporters provide information about the source of a cut of meat as the path it has taken through the supply chain. The RFID tag can be on the actual product on the packaging or on the pallet.

Australian RFID provider Ramp delivers tracking solutions to many different industries. In one project the company assisted Optus with asset tracking. While many companies use barcodes to label equipment the codes can only be read when you can see the asset. With an RFID tag the reader can read the tag without it being in line of sight.

Ramp deployed its OnRamp Asset Tracker program at Optus to track the movement not just of tagged items but which member of staff (who carried their own tags) had moved them.

Similar systems can be used for document tracking as well. RFID document trays can be used to find lost documents but they also offer huge security benefits. Where a document can only be viewed by a limited group of people or can t be removed from the office an RFID system can be used to track possession and set off an alarm if someone tries to take a document past a secure perimeter.

RFID was touted as an open solution that would deliver a whole of supply chain view. However it s ended up being used within specific parts of the supply chain. "If you look at a container trucking solution RFID could be ideal because you re in control of every asset and know all the bits of information you re providing " says Fenner.

"When you take this to an open system you re not able to define all of the information that could be collected or the quality of it. That s why RFID has struggled in the mainstream."

"RFID will deliver an explosion of data" that will lead to "telco styles level of data" predicts Glen Rabie CEO of Yellowfin a business Intelligence solution provider. Whereas in the past the measurement of the supply chain was quite coarse RFID will allow collection of highly detailed nearly real-time data every fifteen minutes.

Rabie says RFID was a technology ahead of its time. "The use will be customer rather than supplier driven when customers want to know the entire life of a product. It s currently a non-event but when large logistics companies start to use it it will become expected " he says.

"There was an awful amount of hype more than was justifiable but the technology will mature. It was held back by the ability to manage the data volume that was being created [and analysed]. We ended up collecting all this data but couldn t process it so it was useless."

The technologies around RFID have caught up and have really matured over the last three or four years especially with the invention of Google Maps which companies can use to plot information collected by RFID tags.

"Now we re able to deal with the billions of rows of data and we can use GIS [geographic information systems] to map data. We used to have GIS gurus in the backrooms but we can now expose it to management " says Rabie.

The issue of dealing with all that data might be OK for a large company with a big IT department and a generous budget but what about SMEs? Rabie s view is that the providers of RFID gear will offer a full service where they supply the hardware collect the data and process it for you as part of a subscription service.

So when should SMEs look at dedicated logistics solutions? "Typically we see there are three reasons why businesses start to look at a dedicated solution " says Stephenson. "They ve used their accounting system or spreadsheets or a combination to run their warehousing and transportation. Eventually they either want to improve their customer service improve their inventory accuracy or improve their own efficiency."

Many companies on a growth trajectory need systems that can scale. They want to know that their systems will work when they add staff and move into a larger distribution centre. They re also looking for flexibility so that can be more reactive to their customer s demands and more nimble with their product offerings.

All of this has driven another significant change in modern logistics technology. It s all getting a lot more user-friendly. Customisation and configuration is now more available to staff on the floor rather than needing the IT department if they have one to make system changes.

Web-based programs becoming popular let customers access systems to find out what inventory is available and determine the status of their order.

One of the challenges many companies face is the seasonality of their work. For example in the fruit picking industry more staff are required during certain times of year. Manhattan s solutions for SMEs have an interesting take on this.

Rather than making the customer invest in bar code scanners or RFID readers for a work force that might only be in place for a few weeks of each year they use a paper-based system that can be scaled up as needed without significant capital investment.

The role of business intelligence tools has come to the fore. Jones from McKey Distribution houses all information in a data warehouse and uses business intelligence for "total visibility".

"I have a dashboard running that tells me what my loaders are doing. I can see what my assets are doing and how we are in lead times and other customer satisfaction measures " says Jones.

There are many BI tools to choose from. One of the challenges is to find a tool that integrates with your ERP or logistics platform.

In the SME space Yellowfin has worked with Australian company Translogix to develop solutions to optimise warehouse fleet and routes. Yellowfin deploys services to customers who need logistics systems but don t want to live with the hassle of installation and maintenance.

Translogix now uses a reporting system that lets it monitor key performance indicators so customers can identify and track issues as they arise. It helps the company make better strategic decisions for the long term improvement of the supply chain. This solution is delivered to Translogix clients who require the reporting.

Supply chain reporting includes alerts when problems arise longitudinal reporting to uncover trends and comparative and operational reporting.

However Rabie thinks that we re on the cusp of a change.

"I recently downloaded a book on reporting from 1939 and not much has changed other than the volumes of data. But one big difference with today is real-time predictive analytics. That s what Yellowfin will be changing to - the ability to mine the data on the fly and start churning out models.

"We ll be able to see in the middle of the day that a truck won t be able to complete its run by 3:00 pm so we can get another truck onto the route to do the next run. This will make logistics more like financial markets in the way they manage and react to incoming data more rapidly."

It s likely that other data sources outside the direct control of the supply chain manager will become part of the equation. For example real time traffic and weather forecasts factors that can have significant impact on supply chain efficiency can be pulled in to provide a fuller picture and to make more accurate predictions.

The great challenge for SMEs is to remove inefficiency so less time is wasted and fewer tasks need repeating. The most expensive problem to rectify is a missed delivery that has to be done again. When those issues are solved not only are costs optimised but service to the client is improved.

To avoid those issues businesses need to move beyond home-grown spreadsheets and inflexible accounting software with a logistics "bolt on" and find a solution that offers flexibility and reliability.

Businesses without their own IT department don t need to miss out as third party service providers might start selling not just the hardware but the ability to collect and package the data on the businesses behalf.

12 years ago
With Gartner's Business Intelligence group listing In-Memory analytics at the top of their recommended Business Intelligence requirements for enterprise; No wonder In-memory has become a trending topic in BI and a new addition to executive shopping lists.

We thought we would share with you our top 10 technical requirements, you should be asking from an in-memory analytics vendor:

[10] Be open - allow other applications to connect to it (other than the in-memory database provider)

It’s important to source a non-proprietary database, in-memory databases are usually bundled with a visualization tool and it’s important that the provider allows other tools to connect to the database so that you can maximize your investment in the technology, rather than being tied to a proprietary solution.

[9] Minimal administration overhead

In-memory analytic tools often introduce some of the same concerns that OLAP stores create: namely, they usually create another data source, with its own calculations and business definitions. This is where tools such as Yellowfin differ from other in-memory approaches: existing queries, reports and dashboards automatically take advantage of an in-memory database, seamless to users. Administrators are not adding calculations and business logic within another layer; they reside within the existing meta-data layer for reporting that is already built.

[8] Enterprise scalability

It is critical to select enterprise class infrastructure that enables you to scale your deployment as your users grow.
All BI solutions must include enterprise administrative features, such as usage monitoring, single sign-on and change management; and this is just as true for in-memory solutions. It is therefore, critical that you choose solutions that can provide enterprise class infrastructure that enable you to scale your deployment as your users grow.

[7] Platform independent

It is important when selecting an in-memory database that it be platform independent. It should run on any hardware platform (PC, Mac, SunSparc, etc.) or software platform (Linux, MacOS, Unix, Windows, etc.).

[6] Data Serialized to disk to enable rapid recovery

An image of the in-memory database is saved to disk, allowing the system to quickly reload the image should the system need to be restarted. This means that data can be loaded into your in-memory database without the need to place additional strain on your production or transactional servers.

[5] Integration with your existing data warehouse and OLAP cubes

While some vendors tout in-memory as a way of avoiding building a data warehouse, this option usually applies to smaller organizations that may only have a single source system. For larger companies that have multiple source systems, the data warehouse continues to be the ideal place to transform, model and cleanse the data for analysis.

Look for tools that are designed to integrate with and leverage existing BI environments. An in-memory solution that is tightly integrated into the visualization tool is critical. However, it is equally important that the visualization tool can also access your OLAP cubes and data warehouse tables without the need for an in-memory middle-layer. Without this option a purely stand-alone in-memory solution can lead to yet another version of the truth, adding complexity to your BI environment.

[4] Web-based GUI development and deployment.

Some in-memory tools are not nearly as web enabled as their conventional BI counterparts. This seems to reflect both technology immaturity and a tendency to be a niche deployment. However, for successful adoption with minimal administrative overhead web based development and deployment is critical. Both the visualization tool and in-memory database need to be server based deployments to ensure that data access security and application upgrades can be easily managed. Solutions such as Yellowfin provide a single web based platform for delivering your Business Intelligence needs. From connection through to design, modeling and visualization, your users work within a fully integrated browser application that encourages collaboration and an iterative approach to report development - leading to analytical applications that meet the needs of your end users.

[3] Server side rather than Client side

Consider a scenario where users are able to conduct complex queries by downloading up to 100 million rows of data to their desktop from many data sources, or data feeds from the web. Sure the information can then be sliced and diced into reports or users can create BI applications on their desktops and share them with colleagues. This sounds great in theory but is fraught with danger in practice. Not only does this have a massive potential to create data silos but with this level of data stored on a laptop, it is free to leave your premises and get lost or stolen in the worst case or published without any form of governance at best.

[2] Ensure real time data refresh - incrementally loaded

Because reporting data is extracted from a source system or a data warehouse and then loaded into memory, data latency can be a concern. Front-line workers in a customer service centre, for example, need near-real-time highly granular (detailed) data. If an in-memory tool contains last week’s product inventory data, it is probably not of use to customer service reps. Thus, the suitability of an in-memory tool and the success of the deployment may hinge on the degree to which the solution can automate scheduled incremental data loads.

[1] Data security must be of paramount concern

In memory applications have the potential to expose significantly more data to end-users then ever before. This raises security issues regarding how data is accessed, where it is stored and who has access to that data.

In determining the best strategy for your in-memory deployment, security needs to be foremost in your selection criteria. There are two aspects of security. Firstly where is your data stored and is that storage secure? And secondly, who has access to that data store? Transactional applications go to great lengths to embed data security and access rules ensure your in-memory database inherits these and is not simply a data access free for all.

Further Information:

Download publications (Click Link or Cut into Browser, No signup or Email required)

In-Memory Brochure

In-Memory Whitepaper

About Yellowfin

Yellowfin is passionate about making Business Intelligence easy. Recently recognized among 25 rising companies that CIOs must know about, Yellowfin is a leading web-based BI solution that can be easily integrated into any third-party application or delivered as a stand-alone enterprise platform. Yellowfin is an innovative, fast and flexible solution for reporting and analytics, providing a full range of data access, presentation and information delivery capabilities.

For further information / interviews please contact:
Catriona McGauchie
Marketing & Communications Manager, Yellowfin
Direct line: +61 3 9090 0454 Mobile: +61 (0)428 368 371 Email:
12 years ago