Monthly Archives: October 2012

Social Commerce Is The Future of E-Commerce

Social Commerce -Definition :
Electronic commerce is a shopping innovation leveraged by internet and advancement on the related technologies. The same commerce when initiated through the Social Network and executed in any existing methods of supply-chain management then it becomes S-Commerce.So, Social Commerce brings a new generation kind of shopping experience.

Evolution of Social Commerce :
Social Commerce is new shopping experience created by Social Media on internet and it will occupy at least 50% of electronic shopping by end of 2012.Increasing number of internet and social networking users across the globe are the main boosting factors for Social Commerce and its success will continue in future. E-Book and E-Printing are also slowly moving towards the Social landscape and #Shutterfly has prominent presence in Social Commerce as Social Printing Service.

How e-commerce works?
Social Commerce is initiated directly either from the Social Commerce site,or Social Commerce application site or integrated Social Plugin in Social Network like Facebook, Twitter Google+ etc.Once the order is placed using the Social Commerce Platform like Groupon,the logistics and other delivery process are executed just like in any other standard E-Commerce business process but some of the S-Commerce vendors has strategized the better back-end process to bring the next generation type of service quality.

Applicable area of Social Commerce :
No doubt, social commerce is trending globally for all type business domains. S-Commerce can be leveraged in almost every electronic commerce and the main business domains where S-Commerce has been deployed are Social Games, Ticketing, Travel Management, Hotel Booking, Fashion and E-Book and Mobile.Fashion Retailer like ASOS has already great presence on Social Commerce and same is expected to grow further in future.

Dependent factors :

The S-Commerce is software driven business process and its success is directly dependent over the richness of electronic shopping,easiness of S-Commerce Platform and great UX. Besides, other parameters are also associated with it.It is also dependent on the number of internet and social media subscriber-base. All good social commerce strategies become successful if they can transform the social visitors into Social Customers at higher conversion ratio. Fast growing Smart-phone and Tablet user-base is directly facilitating the the success of S-Commerce and its fast growing success.
In Social Commerce, all financial transactions are transmitted over the internet and internet facilitated platform.It may go through some of insecure channel too. So, it has bought the need of good security mechanism for Social Commerce to make it compatible with fast growing business-processes and the need of specialized data security mechanism to make it safe on internet for all financial transactions.
Smartphones users from Rural-Areas of India will contribute contribute a lot towards the business opportunity on S-Commerce.

Major Social Commerce Players :
Groupon is the major global player in S-Commerce followed by Ticketfly in ticketing and currently there are more than 100 plus Social Commerce players in the market. Recently launched Facebook Gift is expected to bring altogether new shopping experience in Social Commerce but right now the offering is not available globally. Facebook’s ‘Want’ button will give it bigger business opportunity to convert the registered users into potential customer or actual customers. Ticketfly is another player with business interest in Ticketing and and Ticket management.

Social Commerce Technologies/Software Stacks :
The Social Network which is used for generating Social leads are the main backbone platform of Social Commerce. So. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google are the main source user-base for potential customer for Social Commerce. Indirectly,Enterprise Social Network,Social Networks and Social BI are three key components of S-Commerce

Social-Commerce Analysis :
To make any Social Commerce business successful, it is necessary to analyze every parameter from all aspects of Social Commerce and Social Media. And it brings the importance of Social BI and it importance will grow exponentially along with the increase of S-Commerce. Social BI technologies are emerging and its need will grow exponentially at global level. As Social Commerce happens in Social Networks or associated platforms, it contributes a ton of data towards BigData forcing the integration of Big Data Analytics into F-Commerce, T-Commerce and S-Commerce, Social-Search.

Social BI plays a great role in measuring the success of Social Commerce strategies and Social Media Campaigns.Measuring the performance of Social Marketing through Visual Analytics Tool is very important for a better ROI.Statigram is a very useful platform for measuring the performance of a Visual Marketing supported by Instagram.Pinerly helps in measuring the performance of Visual Social Marketing strategized using Pinterest for any sort of Social Commerce.All S-Commerce platforms can leverage LBS(Location Based Services) to improve its visitor-to-customer ratios.

 Analysis & Author By: Amrit Chhetri, Copyright(C): Amrit, 2013

Cloud Is An Economical Computing Model

Achieving the easiness of computing is an incremental process and it evolved in accordance to the need of business users and the Cloud Computing is one of the example of this type of evolution.It is not only a buzz word for everyone but it has become a successful computing model for all sort of organization i.e. larger enterprise, MSMEs and start-ups too. It is practically suitable for the organizations where maintaining enterprise level of IT-infrastructure is impossible due to some reasons i.e. they could be financial constraints or internal decision on not keeping any big IT-infrastructure.
In Cloud Computing, the actual computing components like storage, CPU and inter-applications networks are maintained by the Cloud Vendors rather by the individual organization or company.
This architecture on IT-infrastructure allows a shift from capital expenditure to the operating expenditure model. It removes the constraints of allocating budget for the capital expenditure to maintain in-house IT-infrastructure allowing an organization to focus on improving infrastructure services.The TCO of technology or IT-service will go down sharply due to cut-off on capital expenditure.
At configuration level, there are three different types of Cloud namely Private Cloud, Public Cloud and Hybrid Cloud. The Private is completely owned by an organization and this type configuration is ideal for the organization that needs a very secure infrastructure to run it business. The banking and financial institutes may opt for this kind of cloud offering. Public Cloud is another type of Cloud configure where all computing resource are shared across different customers and security are maintained at firewall. The Hybrid is combination of Private and Public Cloud and it is suitable where it is impossible of to take everything into cloud. For example, if a business is already running on in-house IT-infrastructure and moving all business applications completely into Cloud is impossible due to data-security and only the part of business application can be taken into cloud and keeping the data environment as it is.

Cloud Computing supports the delivery of multiple types of technology services and each of them is suitable for one specified need. In broader way, it offers three different types of services and they are IAAS (Infrastructure As Service), PAAS (Platform As Service) and SAAS (Software As Service).The first one, IAAS is suitable to organization that wants to own the actual computing resources rather than just software platforms and wants to create the computing and software environment on top of it. The some of companies or vendors offering Cloud-IAAS are Amazon, Rackspace, OpSource, GoGrid. It offers the computing resources at computing components or hardware level, an organization can take advantage of this to maintain Data Center, to host highly secure business application where they don’t want share anything outside the application-box.

PAAS is ready-to-use computing platform at software level and it allows to host or configure another an application or software using the already available software platforms like Application Server, Web Server, Database Server, Version Control System etc. The biggest advantage of this offering is availability of ready-to-use software platforms. MySQL, MS SQL Database environment from Amazon, OpSoure are few to names for Cloud-PAAS companies or vendors. The last one, SAAS leverages availability of ready-to-use business-applications or software to run the business or usage purpose and the availability of service offering will remain almost universal across all customers and user-segments. Freshdesk, Zendesk ,Google Drive, Dropbox , iCloud, meCloud and are the names of bigger players or software vendors of Cloud-SAAS.

             Analysis & Author By: Amrit Chhetri, Copyright(C): Amrit, 2013

Cyber Crimes- The National Concerns

Introduction to Cyber Crime:
In simplest words, Cyber Crime is the unauthorized access and damage to the human beings or the nation in any form by means of computer and other electronic devices. This definition has been further extended and updated by the laws enforcement body and agency of every nation in different ways. The amendment on the existing Laws are made depending upon the depth of understandings on possibilities of cyber crimes plus other computer related crimes and advancements in technology by the concerned agency keeping interests and political system of the nations in mind.

In today’s world almost every one is using Computer and the usage varies from user to user and from nation to nation. It is used in almost every public and commercial establishment; some of these users are from school and colleges, some of them belong to office and other public establishments. They belong to white color criminals to terrorist organizations, teenagers to adults and old group of people. There are globally 2 billion active Internet users and out of these more than 200 million are only India. There is threat of wrong use of computer and other electronics devices in committing any sort of harm to human being and society. They have potential of being used on conventional crime like kidnapping, forgery and extortion and illegal monetary transaction with Internet enabled computers. This illegal and unauthorized access of money from any financial institutes, individuals, military and public establishments causes a great economical loss not only to an individual but to the nation too.
Analysis of past records says these criminals belong to different user profiles. Some of them are Revenge Teenagers, Political Hacktivist, Professional Hackers, Business Rivals, Divorced Husband/Wife, Ex-Boy/Girl Friends and anti-national groups. Technically, any form of Cyber Crime is a flaw in security system and protocols embedded inside the system, software, integrated hardware and other devices. These flaws are always taken as the loophole by these users to crack into the system before making the different types of the damages and losses.

Different Types of Cyber Crime:
The digitized information are accessed, modified and updated in multiple ways by different business, search and other e-commerce sites to fulfill different business needs in cyber space and the way in which each of the system works varies from one to another. Some of application encrypts data using standard encryption or sometimes using self-derived encryption but some of them may not use be using this mechanism at all to adapt it the general ecosystem of cyberspace. The nature of cyber crime will keep on increasing with the advancements and improvements on technologies and each innovation adds multiple possibilities for cyber crimes. The cyber crimes identified and notified as of now can be categorically clubbed into the headers below: –
1. Social Engineering: –
The is the latest and most vulnerable form of cyber crime where the security of private network are by passed and some harmful mails or virus are intruded into the system to make great loss of data and economy.

2. Cyber Stalking: –
The act of following the victim with distracting mails, chat and other computer/smart devices originated communication frequently, entering the chats room and sending the unnecessary messages including recorded audio and video clips and contents.
3. Electronic/Computer Espionage: –
It is an act of putting an unauthorized electronic surveillance to get the personal or business information for someone other than Law enforcement and the few legally authorized bodies. It also includes getting the information in the form of photocopy, written paper, memorized information, re-construction of similar information of copyrighted information.

4. Hacking: –
It is generic form of Cyber crime. It is an illegal intrusion into a computer system without the permission from computer owner or user.

5. Service Denial(DOS): –
Here an intruder fills the mail-box of the targeted person with spams, virus or any other self replicated programs or blocks the bandwidth of the network using some tools or programming the code to lock or block the all communication ports like http port, ftp port etc.

6. Virus Dissemination: –
The software programs those are harmful to the computer and have the power of replicating them self either on computer memory of storage devices. Virus, Worms, Trojans are example of these types of programs.

7. Pornography: –
Every nation has different type of Laws to categorize the physical exposure or level of nudity and physical activities as porn or adult rated recordings. Some nations does not treat the nudity and physical exposure as the porn at all even then there are always the chances of wrong use of internet for pornography related crimes like black bailing with recorded audio and video clips. In India, any nudity crime on cyber space and pornography is covered under the Section-67 of IT Act-2000.

8. Cyber Defamation: –
This is biggest and most happening type of Cyber Crime where personal images, reputations and respects of a person, organizations or an agency are damaged using computer, computer software and related electronic devices in any form.

9. Phishing:-
This technique is used to get the user credentials and other confidentially valuable information from the banks and any other financial institutes. A false page with similar look & feel, contents and interactivity are designed to get this valuable information. ICICI Bank was one the victim of this type of Cyber Crime in past.

10. SQL Injection:-
This is an electronic injection from the web portal to an application database system to update or delete or insert the data that are supposed to be done on standard business practices and scenarios.

11. Spoofing:-
Taking a control of unauthorized computers from another network or another virtual private network on the network or computer on public or private clouds bypassing the all security and firewall protocols in unauthorized way. It allows doing anything on the remote computer once the access is granted illegally.

12. IRC Crime:-
IRC is easiest from of synchronous way of communication available from different social networking sites and other companies. There are great possibilities of wrong use of this communication room to discuss any form of crimes either on connected computes or outside the computers.

Cyber Crime and Economical Loss:
The loss and damage from cyber crime is huge and it is alarming threat not only to an individual but also to the organization and finally to the national economy. The global loss of revenue due to Cyber Crime is multiples of billion of dollars.

Preventive Measures and Laws:
To controls Cyber Crime there are need of two kind of measures, the first one is to prevent the Crime before they occur just like in the movie ‘The Minority Report ‘ and another one to postulate the strong framework of Laws to cover all modern and latest possibilities on wrong happening in Cyberspace.
Preventive Measures
i. User Awareness Programs:
Some of damage to the computer system can be prevented through user awareness programs. The spamware, virus or Trojans are the biggest threats to computers running on windows operating system, especially earlier versions of the O/S. It is a better practice not to open the suspicious attachment or suspicious links from unknown person or organization, which may be virus or harmful program to the computer. It is necessary to educate the teach 100 % of Internet users about this kind of simple but preventive measure through different campaigns and other possible means.

ii. Suggestions from Ethical Hackers:
The preventive measures for Cyber Crime are not simple and they are always the combination of Laws and technicality. The framework of the laws should be strong enough to support any sort of illegal or criminal activities through the mirror of the flaws in the system. The trend analysis of past crime on cyberspace says that every system is prone to cyber crimes. It is necessary to get the enough technical inputs in the time of framing the Cyber Laws to make a very strong Legal System in battling against any sort of cyberspace related crimes. These inputs can be taken from different categories peoples like Subject Mater Experts, Technical Security Expert and Solution Experts who can provide the details on security systems and futuristic suggestion, Ethical Hacker who can provide the all possible flaws that could occur in the systems and same should be taken into consideration while the framing the Cyber Laws.
Secondly, these Ethical Hackers can be placed to verify and check the any flaws in the system to make system less vulnerable to the external hackers. These flaws can be identified and corrected before hand with the help of these experts. It helps ensuring that the system is ready to take any challenge to known flaws on the system in coming days.

Strong Legal Framework:
Cyber Crime may occur anywhere in the cyberspace and the complexity keeps on increasing as the number of search engines, sites, advertisement and sales tools etc. grows along with business or economical growth. In my personal opinion, the areas or fields given below are in need of having strong Legal Framework and Legal clauses for control and curve the crimes: –
i. Social Networking Sites:
Social Networking Sites, Enterprise Social Site Educational Networking Sites are the great communication option available in cyberspace and they are used for personal, education, healthcare, services and management, banking and finance, NGO, police, public and civil authorities. They are the great revolutions and innovations in technologies and business concepts. There are needs of having a strong framework of Laws to safeguard the genuine users and it can be made possible through the latest amendment on IT acts and Laws. The IT Acts/Laws postulated in early 2000 may not enough not cover today’s crimes and illegal activities carried out using the latest technology and computer related aids.

At global level, a hot discussion is going on whether an employer should ask for the users credentials of as employee at any circumstance or not. Social Networking is the personal and social part of a user and his asset owned by the user on cyberspace; everything inside a SNS becomes the proprietary assets of user under any social framework. It has to be analyzed and considered with serious note about the post –delivery of credentials to the employer to meet the some of the security interest. When the user credentials are handed over to any third party person including an employer, 100 % ownership of everything related to the credentials gets transferred to him including the any criminal and unauthorized activities like Cyber Stalking, Terror Plot, extortion and any other form of misuse. It does not look wrong on following or viewing the social contents by employer at any point of time as he, either as a person or as an organization, is the part of the social community. Asking for the user credentials of any social and private sites is not only illegal but is inhuman in certain way and creates a great security threats too, at personal, organization and national level.

To cover this situation, it necessary to have a really updated amendments of laws to safe guard the interest of an individual and to
give the legal support for building a cyber-crime safe or free nation.

ii. Artificial Intelligence and robotics:
Every great innovation always has two aspects, one is humanitarian utilization and another one is wrong to disturb the harmony of the society and community. Robots are one of the great innovations made by human being. It is being used on business, home, healthcare and medicine, education and research, agriculture and horticulture for betternes of human life and lifestyle. In coming, they will be used everywhere like Fashion and Jewelry, Retail shop, Pubs and Bars, self-intelligent blending mechanism (Perfumes, Cocktails etc) etc. It is already being used to share the emotion with human being and to create the virtual feeling of love, romance, togetherness and other emotion related feeling like touch.
These widespread usage of automated devices with ability of getting connected private and public networks of computers or grid of computers requires a Legal Framework to prosecute any crime and crimes.

iii. Cloud Security:
When something is thrown on open space, there is risk of having security concern and similar is the case with cloud computing. No doubt, every cloud vendors has provided the enough security model or mechanism for Private, Public and Hybrid Cloud but it is necessary to know what flaws may occur in security areas and availability of Laws and Legal Framework enough to control or prosecute the crimes and unauthorized usage of any private of business information on or from the cloud platforms.
The data security on mobile has become the greatest concern for an individual and any laws enforcement agency and its (mobile operations) involvement on cyber crime can be very high due to its portable nature and similar is the case with any other hand held devices like iPad and Tablets. There is a need of strong and flexible laws to safeguard the mobile vendors, users and the security interest of the nation. From analytical point of view the crime made through different categories of devices are different not only in nature but also in the ways of execution. Satellite works on different protocol and mechanism than commercialized standard phones or other hand held devices. Interception and wrong usage of satellite-based communication is more complex than the same thing through other massively commercialized communication devices like phone, pager, tablets, and iPad.

iv. VOIP Protocol:
VOIP is the next generation voice communication protocol and it has great advantages while using communication tool in business, personal and private life, education and research etc. and it is nothing wrong on legalizing 100% usage of VOIP(Voice Over Internet Protocol) to any sort of legally authorized usages. But, still there is a great need of very complex system and legal framework to control the misuse by anti-social elements and other group of users. The communication could be encrypted one and non-encrypted one depending on its implementation by different VOIP service vendors and action-takers.

  • CCIC, Crime Branch, Mumbai
  • Cyber Crimes , Charles Doyle     
         Analysis & Author By: Amrit Chhetri, Copyright(C): Amrit, 2013

Essential Strategies Of BI Implementation

A successful Business Intelligence Solution needs a strategic execution of implementation process.I have divided the overall process into:

Business Intelligence Modules:-
Although the core need of Business Intelligence Platform remains uniform across all organization, the actual requirements vary from department to department and from organization to organization. Some of the BI products are one-business vertical specific and they may not be suitable for another business domain. Mostly, BI vendors offer BI functionality to deliver a solution to the common sets business requirement and they remain common across all organizations and implementations

In every BI implementation, the selection of right Business Intelligence Platforms is the key step for better success and higher ROI (return on investment) from BI initiative and implementation. Bunches of BI Platforms are available in the market and each of them is best in its own area. Apache Hadoop with Teradata is best solution for handling the Big Data and it may not much appropriate if there is smaller volume of business data. The first and foremost parameter to consider in BI initiative is the money budgeted for the BI project. The selection process of BI Platform including ETL Platforms and EDW should consider the allocated budget amount too.

These days, BI Platform from the same vendors is available in two different favors namely completely owned propriety software bundle and BI Solution offered as SAAS. SAAS based BI solution is generally offered in Cloud-SAAS mode making it suitable for larger and smaller enterprises. BI Platform offered as Cloud-SAAS is always suitable for economical and time-constraint implementation as the solution needs only the operational and implementation cost and does not need any capital expenditure to maintain IT-infrastructure. It saves time through its ready-to-use BI Platform availability.

In theory and the best practices, the need of different component or modules of BI Platform starts purely at pre-formatted enterprise reports and ends either with Business Analytics or Business Cockpit. This trend makes selection process very difficult and strict as it is always better idea to use maximum possible components or modules (Reports, Analytics, Dashboard etc) from one platform if the initiative is being considered from the scratch. Otherwise, suitable component from any one of the BI vendors can be considered if it is falling under the economical boundary created by the allocated budget.

BI Module Selection-Process and Methodology:-
If need of BI solution is pre-formatted report oriented, it is important to consider the robustness, the support for custom-program and API used to build the enterprise reporting framework or platform. Approximately, only 25-30 percent of ER reports are complex in layout and presentation and they need custom programs or coding to get the desired output and layout. The rest of the layouts and presentation-format are always served by default functionality. The lists of the features to be considered in this type selection process are: –

  1. Flexibility of Designer  & web-based User-Designer
  2. Server-Client Architecture.
  3. Heterogeneous support for data sources i.e. the support for all widely used databases, connectivity protocols like ODBC, JDBC, Web Service, MDX, and OLEDB.
  4. Support of external or custom program.
  5. Data-Grouping based on functional level security model.
  6. Report output version and archiving.
  7. Data export into PPT, PDF, Excel, CSV.
  8. Scheduling of report and delivery of report outputs through externalized channels like email and in future it could be the updates to Social Networking Sites like Faceboo, Twitter etc.
  9. Support for Social Networks Data and delivery of outputs to mobile devices like Smart-phone, Tablets etc.
  10. Offline analysis of report contents.
  11. Concurrent execution and viewing of the same report-output by multiple users
  12. API to include a piece of report inside a web-portal or Customized Dashboard interface.
  13. Roadmap of product for the support of Big Data, Location or Geographical Intelligence.

In 90 % of this kind of scenario, Business Cockpit or Dashboard is always considered and KPI(Key Performance Indicators) are presented through it. Initially, its user-adoption rate may remain low but it will go up very quickly as any business manager or executive always want to have bird-eye-view of overall business in one screen and it is leveraged by Dashboard or Business Cockpit and Scorecard.

Conclusively, the selected BI Platform should have strong support for pre-formatted reports and all standard features of BI Platform to make it suitable to cater the solution to the need of pre-formatted reports.

When the expectation of BI Solution is also an analysis of business data through Business Analytics or Self/Predictive Analytics, selected BI Platform should have Business Analytics or similar functionality to support the analysis of Business Data. The some of key parameters to consider on selection process are:

  1. Business vertical dominance of the platform in market.
  2. Performance Case Study when there is chance to getting more than 100K records in one Analytics Profile or Design.
  3. Availability of pre-formatted layouts and scope of on-fly customization of look-and-feel.
  4. Architectural process of Business Data and Business logics
  5. Concurrent access of same profile/design my multiple users
  6. Offline analysis capability
  7. Integration and customization supports
  8. Technology used and availability of the experts in the market

Almost all BI vendors are offering this kind of solution (Business Analytics) either in 100% proprietary or Cloud-SAAS model. Here also, the same thumb rule is used, if budget and time frame are not the constraint then BI platform can be deployed on Cloud-PASS/Cloud-IAAS to get privately held Cloud-SAAS solution. Otherwise, Cloud-SAAS offering from selected BI vendor can be considered after checking the availability of the offering and second option is always good as it falls under best practices of BI Solution.

OSI BI Platforms are also evolving very fast and successfully in BI market and the same catch will come in the selected part of Indian BI market. So, it is also not a bad idea to consider open source BI platform like BIRT, Pentaho, and Logixml during the selection process. The TCO of the BI solution designed and leveraged through open source BI platform will always be lesser and the capital expenditure of owning the BI platform can be utilized to the operational cost. Its actual cost is only for the consulting to be taken from the Freelance BI Consultant/experts or experts from the consulting firm.

Finally, to conclude the process of selecting the BI platform, it is a general practice to review the functionality and features through POC (Proof Of Concept) and it is offered by every BI vendor. The POC is offered as free of cost under their pre-sales strategy. Some of vendor has a practice of charging some consulting fee even for the POC could be to maintain its brand value, to get execution cost and to make their pre-sales strategy stronger and standard in the market.

Best Practices- Business Intelligence:-
Once the right BI Platform is finalized under the guidance of organizational rules and policies, the implementation process can be initiated.  Business Requirements Analysis stage is the vital and critical phase in whole SDLC of BI Solution. It is always necessary to capture the complete scope and details of business requirements for which solution is expected from the selected BI Platform. They can be collected unit wise through an individual, one-to-one interaction with users, business manager and CXO and at end of analysis they can be merged together to create the completely holistic view of the requirements. The requirements and expected Business Value Addition of BI solution can always be captured in standardized documented format and they are called FDS (Functional Specification Details). To create the details of this document any standard approaches like Use-Case can be used. FDS may also include sample design of reports, Business Analytics and Dashboard, business case studies and Solution Prototype to refer.

To make a BI implementation a great success and supper hit, it is necessary to design and create the project related documents with minute details and it comes as part of Risk Management Strategy of the project. The lists of document to be prepared under general guidelines of BI project are: –

  1. Project Estimate
  2. SRS (Software Requirement Specifications)
  3. FDS (Functional Specifications Detail
  4. Solution Prototype
  5. DDS (Detailed Design Specification
  6. Test Plan
  7. CR & Review Documents

The selection process of Executive Dashboard and Scorecard should consider easiness, compact and usefulness of the exposed functionality at real-time and it should not be considered from the technology aspect as most its users are always high-level business executives. The primary selection parameters for Dashboard or Scorecard can be Innovative Visualizations, Automatic Intra-Correlation of Visuals, and High Degree of configurations, Real-Time Alerts, responsive interactivity and banners or Ticker.

Irrespective of size of the organization and number of the reports, analytics and Dashboard KPI or items, it is always a better strategy to create fully configured BI Platforms. Three different software environments may go in place for the development, test and production of BI solution.

Modularization of delivery of BI Solution is always a good idea in any BI implementation and it reduce the risk of getting request for bigger enhancement or changes at later stages of SDLC.  The conceptualization of BI solution using the selected BI Platform to cater the solution for the gathered requirements is a great art it can be carried out by an experienced and an innovative expert to get better business value addition. It can include the details on designing standards, standards for EDW and Business Analytics, Business Cockpits, integration, technical testing plan and UAT/UWT plans.

The proposed BI Solution can be broken up into different modules. If the BI initiative is from the scratch, the designing of logical and physical database for the reporting and add-on solution can be considered as first modularized unit of overall phases. Modularization helps in getting the user feedback during the first module itself and it gives the room in avoiding repetitiveness of already occurred functional and other mismatch or errors in other up-coming modules. This practice lowers TCO and gives the higher ROI with higher delivery of Business Value Addition. Each suggestion or change request suggested by end users, business users, technical and functional managers and BI Architect/Consultants during UAT and UWT can be analyzed and considered to make the better practices for next modularized unit of the project and other future delivery to cater the best BI solution in industry.

Author: Amrit Chhetri,

BI Trends Of 2012-An Extensive Analysis

Business Intelligence As An Enterprise Need :-
Business Intelligence is simply not an application but it is a software system capable of generating the ready-to-understand information and sometimes ready-to-consume predictive-information about a business on top of the available data sets. The data could be from Enterprise Social Networking sites, Customer Social Sites, Customer Relation Management System, ERP and CRM, Position Navigation System powered by GIS/GPS, Viral Sales and Marketing Tools like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Friendster, Pheed, weblogs and other blogging and microblogging sites. These data are used by the BI system to facilitate an organization for the historical analysis, to forecast and in getting the predictive details. The outcomes from different features of BI system namely report, smart search, analytics, OLAP, and Dashboard/KPI are utilized in different ways. Based on the context of business operations, BI can be used for three different types of business analysis are they: –

1. Historical Analysis –
This type of analysis is used to know the different aspects of the business in the past using different trends and patterns of business process and activities  This type of analysis is used generally for the analysis of production, sales and marketing, human resource, inventory and finance. It helps in analyzing and knowing the trends of all business processes over the different time periods and business aspects like geographical division and product category. The Decision Support System (DSS) and other Self-Intelligent Business Systems are leveraged in this type of analysis along with the in-built decision-generation algorithms while formulating or creating an automated business decisions. Automatic membership upgrade system on most of Financial and Banking operations is always based on customer’s credit history. The same is made possible through the historical data analysis along with the other policies to promote the cardholder member from lower to premier category.

2. Real Time Analysis-
To know the current statistics, health and statues of different areas of business and to take an appropriate action or counter decision against each of negative point, the real time data is processed and the visualization and outcome are generated out them. The real DSS is aligned to consume the output of Historical analysis for better precision and appropriateness.

3. Futuristic Analysis-
Sometimes, there could be business scenarios where data is generated algorithmically using the some of patters formulated based the historical data. This kind of analysis is generally used to forecast and predict the business events or activities of the future.
To qualify a software system as Business Intelligence Platform or BI System there is need of leveraging the pre-defined sets of 
functionality.These common functionality sets are: –

  1. BI Core Infrastructure
  2. Metadata/Repository Management
  3. Designer and Development Platform/Tools
  4. Collaboration
  5. Reporting Capability
  6. Business Cockpit
  7. Smart Search
  8. Ad-Hoc Query
  9. Third Part & MS Integration
  10. OLAP
  11. Interactive Reports an Data Visualization
  12. Data Mining, Analytics and Predictive Modeling
  13. Scorecard or Process Flow
  14. Social BI and GeoBI

All reporting systems and platforms may not support all of pre-requisite functionality-sets through the single platform or product but it becomes mandatory to support a sub-set (may be 8) of functionality from set of above 14 points to qualify itself as BI Platform. Gartner ‘Magic Quadrant –Business Intelligence 2012’ has considered Mobile BI from newly emerged-out BI modules like Mobile BI, Social BI and GeoBI.

The reporting requirements to be addressed by Business Intelligence System are always very much diversified across different departments of the organizations and their business processes. The relevant data used by the finance department may not be 100% useful and relevant to Sales & Marketing team because as an individual department they work in two different business philosophies. There is another type of categorization of Business Intelligence i.e. based on functional usage. The Business Intelligence and similar platforms are clubbed together to give a unique groups based on usage and the same are Business Strategy Intelligence, Business Operation Intelligence and Competence Intelligence. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to visualize the BI Solution from business-activities point of view and for the same reasons they are categorized into three different types:

1. Strategy Drive BI-
In this type of BI usage, the enterprise goals are created as the outcome of BI initiative on top of business process and activities defined by Business Process Management in a management oriented fashions. The KPI(Key Performance Indicators) are designed with pre-defined goals to meet the corporate level initiatives. So, different business processes are aligned with strategic business objectives and goals through the different performance metric and indicators.

2. Analysis-Driven BI-
In this type of Business Analysis, Analyst will use the outcome of the Business analysis and decisions and strategy will be formulated on the basis of those analytical outcomes.

3. Process Driven BI-
Sometimes, the processes are broken up into smaller parts and they are treated as smallest unit of Business to contribute in decision-making process. The data will be presented mostly as reports, dashboard, alerts, traffic lights and search options.

Intelligent Search is becoming popular across all BI Platform and it is used to get the one-dimensional data from different business data-source connected through BI Platform. The primary source of BI Search could be Index Server, Document Sand Data generated through B2B and B2C Social engagement. It is evident that the input mode will definitively be changed to voice and other advanced modes like Google Glasses and SmartWatches.

Although In-Memory Analytics is just an architectural improvement over the traditional Analytics, its market share is coming up due to its fast processing capability. The emerging trend in viewing business data from mobile devices like Smart-phones, SmartWatches, iPad,Tablets and PaperTabs, will bring a need of getting the business data through the intelligent Search on the devices.

Revolution in BI- Intelligence, Smart and Futuristic Visualization:-The need of BI is trending towards more intuitive, intelligent and futuristic kind of visualizations along with all existing standard features. An executive Dashboard or a Business Cockpit works as decision expert center and it renders all Key Performance Indicators(KPI), alerts and traffic lights and they may vary from business vertical to business vertical. It is good idea to place summarized data inside the KPI and the common and generic examples of Key Performance Indicators are:-

  1. Sales Matrix- Target Vs. Actual
  2. DIO Analysis- Target Vs. Actual
  3. Customer Acquisition Matrix- Target Vs. Actual
  4. PE Ratio Matrix
  5. Market Penetration Matrix- Target Vs. Actual
  6. Revenue Matrix- Cost Vs. Revenue
  7. Profitability Matrix – Target Vs. Actual
  8. Top Landing-Page Matrix
  9. Top X Selling Brand Matrix
  10. Top X Selling Categories- Across Zones/Areas/Cities
  11. Sales Margin Trends

The flexibility of defining the frequency of operational period i.e. time in lowest fraction relevant to business scenarios is facilitated in most of Dashboard from different vendors and possible values are minutes, hours, days, weeks, fortnights, months, quarters and years.

The BI marketing is growing at Year-On-Year(Y-O-Y) growth-rate of not below 11% starting from 1997 till end of last quarter 2012 although there was lots of financial crunch on IT departments of most of companies. In 2011, the total market size of Business Intelligence Platform attained $ 8.9 billion with growth rate of 11.4% over the market size of 2010. The market share of top 10 BI vendors was almost 64 % in 2011. Gartne’s  ‘Magic Quadrant –Business Intelligence 2012’ indicates that Oracle, MicroStraegy, IBM, SAP, QlikTech , Information Builder and Mircosoft as the leaders of BI vendors or BI solution providers in 2011. The newly emerging BI vendors are also doing better to gain bigger pie in market through their innovative offerings.

My independent analysis says the BI market is moving towards the innovative and functionality-oriented aspects. Mobile BI, Social BI, GeoBI , Self-Predictive Analytics and BigData solution as Cloud-PAAS or Cloud-SAAS from BI vendors or in managed cloud-hosting  will dominate the BI sales-market in coming days and this pattern will remain constant at least for another one and half years.

 Whether it is a start-up or MSME or SME or big enterprise, BI Platforms can leverage an analysis solution for analytical, historical and strategy and competence analysis. In some of business vertical the use of BI is very much needed because of their data-driven business modeling and one of such industry is banking/finance. The business vertical or domains where BI has usefulness and derives really great ROI and business additions are below: –

  1. Aviation Industry
  2. Automobile Industry
  3. Jewellery Industry
  4. Fashion Industry
  5. Flower & Floral Industry
  6. Pharmaceutical Industry
  7. Shipping
  8. Retails (Showroom based retailing ,et-ailing, e-grocery etc)
  9. Healthcare (Hospital, e-healthcare, e-ICU)
  10. Beverages Industry
  11. Consulting And Manpower Industry
  12. Finance and Banking
  13. Infotainment and Entertainment Industry
  14. Education
  15. Realty
  16. Sugar and Paper Industries
  17. Publication & Distribution
  18. Logistics

Other than Business, Business Intelligence system has generated usability potential in Military and defense related systems. As an Investigative Intelligence System, BI can be used to analyze the threats, attacks and other security perception, to know the pattern and re-occurrence of similar events on future. It works better in the analysis of communication channels and patterns used by anti-social groups and peoples and other core terrorist groups. It also has potential of generating some of great inputs during the pre and post happening of natural and man made disasters using its Preemptive Intelligence capability. BI System also can be used in other areas like Civil and Police Department, Public And Healthcare Departments, NGO, Astronomical and Trajectory Analysis (Like landing on Asteroids, NASA mission), Sports and Tournament Analysis (A Money Ball is fantastic example) and Criminal Records and Civil/Judi airy Case Analysis.

New Face of BI- Emerging Trends of 2012: –

a. Social Business Intelligence-
Social BI is system that allows to visualize, analyze and plot different graphical and tabular visualizations of the data collected through different sources on web like web-search, enterprise social sites, customer social sites, educational networking sites, RSS feeds, blogging and microblogging sites and non-core business applications. Almost all social activities on web can generate business relevant data and it contributes to Big Data. The Big Data is huge volume of data beyond the ability of most of software and Business Platform to capture, manage and to process. Even just to handle the business application on top of this type of data, highly optimized Data Warehouse is designed using the well proven framework and technology. Facebook is supported by petabyte data warehouse running on Apache Hadoop/Hive in giving the great navigational experience.

More than 95 % social data are generated through micro logging sites, social blogging sites, Blogging Community Sites, community building and networking sites, educational networking sites, audio/video sharing sites, collaborative contents development sites. The fast adoption of Social Networking Sites including Educational Networking as business-supported tools has created need of new technology for the visualization and analysis of business of huge data collected these channels. The usage of Social Networking is increasing at the rate of 85-90% annual basis and Facebook itself attracts 740 plus million unique visitors in a month from its $900 million user-base and out of these visitors, 29-35 % seeks purchase advice through Facebook updates and posts.
The total user-volume of networking sites (Enterprise Social Networking, Customer Social Networking, Location Networking Sites and Social Networking Sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Friendster etc.) worldwide is 2.4 billion till 2011 and it expected to grow to 3.9 billion by end of 2015. Above 40 % the global companies are using Social Networking Sites to improve and enhance their sales and marketing strategies and this initiative generated Terabytes of social data every putting itself for the source of Big Data.

The fast trending natures of digital marketing, e-brand management and commerce through Social Sites has created a big opportunity area for Social BI and it will become core offering of BI Platforms in future. Some of the ETL Tool is already supporting social-data processing and there is great need of Social ETL tool in market to fulfill need of ETL capable of processing data from all Social Sites and activities including we search. Few independent and integrated solution are available in BI market to cater the need of Social BI and Social data-processing. Actuate BIRT Social( SAAS Based), Yellowfin and Google Analytics ,Radian 6, Kontagent, SAS Social Media Analytics and Attensity 360 are some of the niche players in the market of Social BI.

b. Big Data –Challenging Strategies-
For business system that is pushing a teratbye/petabytes of data through its day-to-day operations, size of data creates performance challenges and there some standard solution to overcome this problem but the solution is expensive. The exponentially increasing volume of Business Data has forced the need of new technology to manage and process them for Business Analysis. The MPP (Multiple Parallel Processing) technology has started taking its share to handle this amount of data. Apache Hadoop is the well-proven technology available in this area.

c. Cloud-BI (Cloud-IAAS, Cloud-PAAS, Cloud-SAAS)-
Cloud Technology is architectural change for all business application including Business Intelligence. Whether the managed hosting is moved into cloud on privately deployed on cloud by acquiring cloud offering as Cloud-IAAS or Cloud-PASS or the BI solution utilized used as Cloud-SAAS, Cloud is the most economical option available in the market. Depending upon the need of BI solution, existing IT infrastructure and organizational policy, there will be a need of considering some technical and functional challenges but they would be over come with the best practices and twist on generic Cloud-Architecture and security model. About 30 % BI initiative of 2011, moved themselves into Cloud-SAAS or had planned to use this offering in future.

Actuate‘s market share is significant in Cloud-SAAS BI business and some other BI vendors are also offering innovative and futuristic SAAS-based products to push their business as Cloud-SAAS and some of niche players of SAAS-BI are Actuate, 1010data, Birst, Domo, GoodData, PivotLink and MicroStrategy.

d. Location/GeoBI – Spatial BI-
About 80 % of data stored in corporate database has geo-spatial components associated with them and they may be lying without any use or proper relationships for any business analysis. It helps in getting the Business information in terms of geographical positions and distances. For example finding the names of places at around 200 radiuses from an Airport. The Geospatial Business Intelligence system needs special support for spatial relation and correlation and a stack of software for spatial complaint database like PostgreSQL-postGIS, Oracle-Oracle Spatial etc to store the correct spatial details on business data. The business data mapped with spatial details are presented in human understandable form using the specially designed interface or API and one of them is SOLAPLayers form Mondrian™.

Open Source BI- A Cost Savvy Option: –

Business Intelligence is a huge subject and area on itself and it is very difficult for a company to delivery everything on economical stack. The open standard for BI under OSI is really great idea to create a great Business Intelligence system as all participating companies and members will contribute equally to deliver a solution at loyalty free licenses like LGP/GPL /GNU and any other OSI licenses. The biggest advantages of Open source Business Intelligence Platform is lower TCO and higher ROI and some of the matured BI Platform available under this stack got almost everything what other bigger players are offering to the customers. Gartner’s  ‘Magic Quadrant –Business Intelligence 2012’ has considered Jaspersoft and Pentaho as the niche BI players. BIRT is another Opens Source BI with significant presence and penetration in market.

There are few myths about Business Intelligence Platforms, offerings different and Business Intelligence implementation and maintenance strategies. Some of these myths are below: –

1. BI System will solve everything.
It is myth and in reality BI is the system that allow to get the standard outcome either with pre-defined business decision or interpret-able outcome but the tightly coordinated relations and are necessary among BI vendor and BI expert/Consultant/Architect, IT department, business users and management to make the BI application useful, successful and to get higher ROI.

2. Existing BI Platform is always best and offering from emerging /upcoming BI are bad:
It is a myth and the reality is that a very innovative functionality and feature are mushrooming from emerging BI vendors and they are useful in today’s business scenarios and environment. BI is the system of technological innovations and its need constant changes and improvement. So, it is necessary to consider for additional enhancement on existing BI system or BI Platform to keep an organization updated with the latest Business Intelligence System and analysis mechanism.

3. Dashboard is enough to everything.

Again, this is a myth; an executive dashboard along can’t provide the minute and complete health of a business. It is basically organizational and departmental KPI and details and other information will remain available outside Dashboard as the reports, analytics and search capability.

Reference and Thanks:
There are few technical and statistical references from other research and e-books. In the same context, my special thanks to:

  1. Dr. Thierry Badard, CTO Spatialytics inc.Quebec, Canada
  2. Dan Vesset, IDC
  3. Sara Radicati, Principal Analyst, The Radicati Group Inc.

Analyzed And Author By:Amrit Chhetri,

10 Best Practices Of BI Implementation

1. Know Your BI Strategies:

Business Intelligence is software system designed to derive the Business Values from a Business and primarily it is meant to analyze the different business operations and associated activities like cost forecast, performance management, sales projection and production management. Its success depends on various factors like fulfillment of user requirements, user experience & flexibility of the solution, momentum of BI strategy at management level and the organizational IT policies created for the adoption BI system.It is necessary to follow the best practices and guidelines created by an individual or a consulting firm to make the BI initiative a big success with sensationalized ROI(Return On Investment). SDLC of a BI Project involves a complex project management and execution strategies to conclude it successfully. The initiative starts with business requirement analysis, the development ends at deployment to production server and the final delivery ends with the post-deployment activities like Change Request Management, finalization of user manual, internal adoption strategies and practices, strategies to bring BI as part of Enterprise Social Networking practices and planning & training practices for Support & Maintenance.

2. Strategize Well Your BI Requirements:
BI initiative devised to fulfill the BI requirements varies from organization to organization. It (BI initiative) may be meant to have a completely new BI System or sometimes it is initiated for one or two specific BI Modules only.In both the cases, it is possible to implement them on top of the existing BI system or a consider a new BI Platform. Along with Budget, Planning and Management, requirement analysis of BI System plays a vital role to make really successful.

Good analysis of BI requirements drives the initiative to success. There are some theoretical aspects associated with the requirement analysis but in practicality, it can be executed under certain good practices and guidelines. In today’s BI Market, BI initiative, either at module level or at system level, it should be considered as an organizational initiative rather than departmental or individual responsibility for the best Business Values Additions and higher ROI (Return on Investment). Starting from the Use-Case Analysis, consider the importance of participation of Business Analysts, BI Architect and users, CEO, COO, CFO and CMO to capture the holistic view of the requirements. It is the right time to bring the Enterprise Social Networking sites into action. A closed group of community can be created to get the requirement updates and opinions over the already expressed requirements and it can be considered as ‘Pre-Deployment GAP-Analysis’. Here, the whole requirements are captured as free-flowing diagrams inside a chart-paper or in a special editor using the digital pen/stylus before laying down all the details into the actual FDS- requirement details document. Business Analyst takes this responsibility with the help of Solution/Business Intelligence Architect. Once the requirement are completely gathered in an industry standard document format i.e. FDS along followed by SRS, do the internal review of the captured requirements among the team members. In this exercise, get the opinion from Technical Analyst or BI Architect to know initial feasibility of the solution to cover the solution for all the requirements.

The BI Solution always comprises of one or more than one modules. The overall requirements can be divided into modules and finally they can be grouped into requirements for Enterprise Reporting Solution, BI Dashboard/Business Cockpit/Dashboard, Business Analytics (Standard Analytics, Predictive Analytics and Self-Predictive Analytics) and OLAP.

3. Use The Best BI Platforms:

There are more than two to three dozens of BI Platforms in BI market and each one is best for one specific sets of BI functionality & features. It makes the selection of BI Platform a very serious task at organization level but there are ways and best practices for conclude the selection process with international standards. To start with the selection process, firstly, initiate an activity to create the detailed information about the BI Platforms through the comparative analysis. It is a good idea to finalize the group of BI Tools as the first elimination process before moving ahead with the actual finalization steps. The best BI Platforms should be selected through two well-defined processes i.e. comparative analysis followed by POC (Proof Of Concept). So to start with this process, create the features-comparison sheets using Spreadsheet Processor (MS Excel, OpenOffice Spreadsheet etc.) or a report using Free/OSI BI System considering all parameters like features, licensing polices, ownership acquisition type (installer setup, Cloud SAAS or OEM type), availability of resource pool in market, expense/charges of consultants/experts and case-studies of successful BI implementation in same business domain for each of the BI Platform. These details can be collected from various sources like direct vendor interactions, IT-magazines, IT Newspaper/Portal, e-books and groups and communities on social networking sites. Here, some of the vendors can be eliminated straightforward if they don’t meet the requirements of core/fundamental functionality. But, it is a bad idea to finalize the BI Platform simply based on this fact/comparison sheet. The best practice is achieved by initiating the process of POC with pre-defined sets of requirements to generate the limited numbers of reports, analytics, KPI, Scorecard/Dashboard and OLAP models.

Now, the communication with BI vendors can be triggered to finalize the actual date of starting the POC. Business data is the asset of each and every business process and an organization and it should be treated with full responsibility and under certain documented guidelines. Irrespective of level of comfort in relation with vendors, always sign an NDA(Non Disclosure Agreement) to protect the data, concepts that’ll be used to create BI Solution .The requirements and expectation from POC must be documented well enough and give the same to all vendors finalized for BI POC. Involve key users to get the feedback on user-experience, look and feel and easiness of usage. Similarly, get the opinion of technical experts regarding the robustness of architecture, API, integration compatibility and easiness in customization.

4. Design The Best Prototype Of Your BI Solution:

When requirement are gathered completely into a well formatted document i.e. FDS, start conceptualizing the BI Solution to be deployed using the selected BI Platform. Now,it is the time to start building fully working prototype of the final BI Solution in HTML or the prototype designer tool like Serena-Prototype-Composer2009R1. This type of Prototype designer helps in maintaining standards and makes easier to add change request come across till the completion of production deployment. Alternatively, it is a great idea to enhance the deliverable of POC further to make a POC deploy-able to production environment. In this consideration, time and efforts towards Prototype of POC increases at least by 50% but the time fame to deliver final solution will be reduced and changes of re-occurrence of the technical glitches will be minimal. The following points should be considered thoroughly while designing the prototype taking the points from the requirement document: –

1. In Ad-Reports:
a. The color combinations and other look and feel parameters like font size and name, logo and report-footer text like ‘Powered by PentahoBI’.
b. The type of reports and layout supported by the finalized BI Platforms, it could be the default types leveraged by the platforms or custom-report supported by the programming extensions.
c. Number of grouping and group-headers labels, font name and font size at each grouping levels.
d. Nature of drill-downs, whether it is intra-report or inter-report,or two level drill/expansion.
e. The name of report-portion or target reports to drill from main reports or on subsequent drilling.
f. The header-names and sample data should be relevant.

2. In Analytics :

a. The color combinations and other look and feel parameters like font size and name, logo and footer text like ‘Powered by PentahoBI’.

b. The type of report and layout supportable by the finalized BI Platforms, it could be the default types leveraged by the platforms or custom design report supported by the programming extension.

c. The typed of visuals and sample data, even if it is necessary to have more than one interface for single Analytics.
d. The header-names and sample data should be relevant, and all look and feel details of all.

3. In Dashboard KPI & OLAP:

a. The types of Visuals, specific type of Charts/Graphs.
b. The columns for dimensions and measures.
c.  The user specific KPI sets and nature and number of expansion in OLAP report.

5. Create Documented Best Practices/Guidelines :

Designing a software solution is an art of amalgamating the business process,software platforms and business information into a best possible fashion. The business requirements, the functionality supported by the BI Platform and budget and resource allocated to the project or module are the key parameters to be considered while designing the BI Solution.

User Experience is always driven by easiness and intuitiveness of the user-interface available either by default or through the customization. So, create the standard and the best combination of Layouts, Colors, Fonts and labels. Preciseness of the business information brings up greater user-acceptance and helps in gaining the higher ROI. So consider these points while conceptualizing the BI Solution.Keep the appropriate type of charts or graphs and other visuals and it is great idea to keep the uniformity of chart type for better presentation, readability and easiness.

To bring all of them into reality, some standard practices are taken into action. Apart from tertiary documents, two main documents are created to support the development process or stage and they are SRS(Software Requirement Specifications) and DDS. All core technical stuffs like the Architecture details & diagrams, details about the finalized software platforms and other associated software components are placed inside SRS. All design related details including summary of functionality from FDS, a report/analytics/KPI/OLAP specific screenshot taken from the Prototype, data-fields details, SQL statement or procedure names to be used in designing the report object are placed into DDS. These document are generally designed, updated or altered by senior techno-functional resources along with Technical/Solution Architect or Solution Designer.

It is a time to look for the resources of different skills sets depending upon the project size and readiness of other related software environments like transaction system and Data Warehouse. If Data Warehouse and Data marts are the parts of BI solution then start sub-project and it requires BI resources of different skill set. Considering the complexity of the BI Platform, it is always a great strategy to have specialized team of Data Warehouse just like the BI Developers team.

The actual report or Analytics/KPI/OLAP designing process can be divided into two parts – data modeling and interface designing. In Ad-Hoc reports designing, check or update the query given inside the DDS and make it fully compatible with all changes added till now and use the same for report designing. The designing of Analytics and OLAP varies from BI Platform to Platform but the fundamental steps always remain same. Against each requirement set given inside the FDS and summarized inside DDS, all associated data points logically mapped to the database-fields are taken from DDS. If they are not there, the request to get the same can be raised to the Project Manager or to Team Lead for the earliest update. The testing team or member is informed putting all other members into the loop for the completion of each of the report object. In my opinion, it is great and imperative practice to use Enterprise Social Networking sites for this kind of collaborative updates.

6. Create Simple And Intuitive User Manuals:

Users always love to have a comprehensive, intuitive and visuals-oriented User Guide/Manual and it is better idea to start designing the same once the developmental efforts starts and complete only when all the solution gets ready for production testing. Any change in the functionality and screens placed inside the report objects namely Reports, Analytics and Dashboard should be updated whenever the new changes are added or updated. It gives a really updated and compact User Manual. The feedback or suggestion regarding the contents and types of details looking can be taken in collaborative ways using an Enterprise Social Networking Platform.

7. Leverage Enterprise Social Platforms:

Organizations have started adopting the Enterprise Social Networking as a core Collaborative Platform. Create an intra-organizational community or group to start with putting the updates about the BI solution, different technical updates and request for the feedback from the user an peoples across the organization. This is next generation method of delivering the solution considering the interests of all users and group of users. If the Enterprise Social Networking is not implemented or still in pipeline stage, this step can be avoided but same can be leveraged later on whenever it becomes ready for use.

8. Create Testing and UAT/UWT Plans:
Now, it is time to test the smart efforts placed so far. Create the Test-Cases covering all functionality mentioned and detailed inside all three documents SRS, FDS and DDS. It is always better to have very comprehensive Test Cases against each of the module or one deliverable unit. If there is more than one module to be tested, follow the approach of catching one at time. The defects or errors reported during the first iteration/testing should be fixed before moving into another iteration of testing. And, the same approach should be follow for rest of the modules. It will remove 100% of all technical defects and 99.5 % of functional issues or defects. Now, schedule a UAT with internal Business Analysts & BI/Solution Architect and users and incorporate all defects reported during these activities. After this, schedule a session with all users, CXO and people connected in this project and present the solution for feedback mostly for functional correctness and easiness . This process is UAT (User Acceptance Test) and UWT (User Walk Through).

Now, time to add the final beatification to the solution. All change requests from UAT and suggestion gathered through Enterprise Social Networking sites should be incorporated before moving the solution into production stage or LIVE. The UAT/UWT should be iterated depending upon the quantum of the suggestion or feedback on previous UAT/UWT. It is possibly great idea to take the solution into production on modular basis.

9. Conduct Interactive Sessions:
When the fixes are added for all change requests, take the solution into production stage or LIVE and repeat the testing of all functionality and features to make ensure that whatever were passed on stage/testing environment are available in production environment too. After that, a final interactive/intuitive presentation can be prepared. It can include the videos presentation with audio. Publish this also into Enterprise Social Networking Sites for comments and suggestions. All suggestions, feedback and comments by target BI solution users and other associated team member are incorporated inside the final Presentation and Video to be presented in Final UWT. The final copy with latest updates can be made available to all through mail or using Social Networking Sites.

10. Schedule Final UWT :
Now, it is time to predict and discuss the actual values addition of the BI Solution and its future road-map to get the higher ROI. Schedule a final-combined meeting session with all Business Analysts associated in the project, CXO, end-users, power-users and Enterprise Solution Architect or Business Architect. Time to present the finalized Audio-Video Presentations, Power Point Presentations of all ready modules to educate users in best way about the solution and working steps. It should include the roadmap of the BI solution and strategies to get the higher ROI from the solution. All the best.

Author: Amrit Chhetri,

What Is Business Intelligence System?

Early Days Of BI:
The days when Computers were mass-produced, they were commercially used to store, view and analyze the business data and some business rules but the sophistication of interfaces meant for viewing the business-information came into action in incremental ways with passage of time. Today’s Business Intelligence is the result of enhancements and improvements over the primitive Business Systems created during early days of computers and the first time when computers were leveraged into business computation is late 1970s.

What Is BI System?
Business Intelligence is a system that allows storing, managing, viewing and analyzing the business data in human understandable fashions. The core component of Business Intelligence is data storage system and it could be RDBMS (Relational Database Management System) like MS SQL Server, IBM DB2, Oracle, Oracle MySQL, Derby, Sybase and Teradata; flat file systems like MS-Excel, OpenOffice Calc, XML(eXtensible Markup Language) and CSV File; In-Memory Data-Structures , Columnar Database Management System and ODBMS (Object Oriented Database Management System).

Who Generates BI Data?
All types Database Systems are used to store and manage the data generated by Business Applications like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Management System), CMS (Content Management System), CMS (Call Management System), RMS (Roster Management System), AMS (Attendance Management System) and in-house Custom Application, Geo-Navigation System, Geographical Positioning System, Weapons Guidance System, Electronic Health Record Systems, Vehicle Registration & Transport Management System and any other applications capable of collecting operation-to-operation business data, public, health and other data. MS-Access and MS-Excel are also being adopted in most places to store data from Business Applications.

Since last 3 years, SNS (Social Networking Sites) like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google+,Vine,Instagram and Pheed have contributed a huge volume data for business analysis and these data come from the campaigns, leads management and other sales-marketing activities supported by them. Social Media Marketing through the Social Networking Sites like YouTube, MySpace,Pheed,Vine,Instagram and Google + have contributed a significant volume of data for business analysis and decision making areas.

What are BI Interface?
To view and analyze these data in easiest way, there was a need of an interactive and user-friendly GUI either as a standalone application or as web-based interface. This need has been fulfilled by BI’s User Interface and different BI products offer different types of User Interface to cater solutions to the same requirements in different ways by throwing the data into human understandable form. While creating this type of view of business data, they can access data directly from OLTP like RDBMS dedicated to Business Systems or Flat-File Systems or In-Memory Datastructure in raw-form. Alternatively, an intermediate process can be designed to simplify the complex form of data into simpler one and ETL Tools like Informatica, MS-DTS, Talend, Pentaho Kettle and Logixml ETL and in-built ETL and Custom program based ETL can be leveraged for that purpose. Once data is processed by the ETL Tools, they are loaded into pre-designed database-tables and the system created with these tables along with transformation logics plus repository details is called Data warehouse. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to categorize the data loaded inside BDW(Business Data  Warehouse) into smaller entities or groups generally depending upon the business functionality and they are called DataMarts.           

BI is used not only to view the Business Data but its main aim is to improve the Business understandings and streamlining the business activities and formulation of associated strategies and execution. It is used to analyze the historical data for knowing the profitability at any business level, to forecast the financial health, to know the cash-flow system and status. The real time data is analyzed through BI to know the day-today happenings and strategizing the real-time resolution of a business problem at operational or at functional level. Its outcome is also used in Business planning and activities scheduling, real-time decision making and understanding of customer behaviors and psychology across different aspects of the business. Well-conceptualized and diversified usage of BI helps in improving the business health giving the bigger scope for higher Business Value Additions.

Primarily, BI is used in Business houses and operations but it can be leveraged in other areas too like historical analysis of sports and games, weather forecast, analysis of agricultural production and benefits to farming sectors, analysis of circumstantial evidences and crimes and criminal records, trend analysis of droughts and calamities, behavioral patterns of voters and trend analysis of fashion and lifestyle.

What Is Business Cockpit?
The stack of software components or systems that are coupled together for Business Analysis is called Business Intelligence Platforms. In BI Platforms, there are different types of User Interfaces to leverage the solution to the different sets of requirement. In broader way, they are clubbed into four types namely Reports/Ad-Hoc Report Interface, Analytics, Dashboard/Scorecard and OLAP. Reporting interface is used to view pre-formatted report and to do some user-level actions like exporting them into PDF, Excel, CSV, Presentation and download of entire report-contents for offline-analysis. When some interactivity like drill-down, formatting and dimension-change is added to pre-formatted reports they are called Interactive Reports. Generally these types of report-outputs are generated on ad-hoc basis but same time they can also be scheduled to receive the report-outputs in a pre-specified frequency.

Business Users use BI much beyond simple-interactivity for interactive analysis of Business Data by adding different dimension and different aspects to data-presentations and they are catered through a specialized Interface called Business Analytics. It allows great flexibility in analysis and gives the human interpret-able view of Business Data. SAP, Oracle, SAS, Actuate and MircroStrategy are bigger BI vendors marketing Business Analytics.

To add the actual decision making intelligence, Business rules and business scopes are added to Business Analytics and they are called Self-Intelligent Analytics or Predictive Analytics. SAP-Sybase Markets this category of Business Analytics.

The managerial layer of Business users does not want to go through the chunk of data and they need highly specialized interfaces to arrange the Business matrices generally real-time business matrices and the same is achieved through Business Cockpit or Executive Dashboard. It is a special type of BI interface that allows to arrange and to configure different matrices keeping the security of data in place.

What are Business KPI(Key Performance Indicators)?
The Scorecard is also meant to represent the data in Dashboard like interfaces with some additional interactivity and business widgets attached to them. Dashboard generally allows placing the summary of Business data as Tables, Pivot Tables, Visuals (Thermometers, Gauges, Radars, 2/3 Axices Bar/Step/Area charts etc), Tickers and these smaller pieces of Business Information are called KPI (Key Performance Indicator).Logixml™, SAP, Jasper, QlikTech and IBM are some of BI vendors to market Executive Dashboard or Business Cockpit. Few Indian companies are also coming up to cater Executive Dashboard Solution and Maya Intelligence is one them.

What Are The Uses Of Social BI?
The evolution of Social Media and Social Viral Sales and Marketing initiative has given the birth of new face of BI and it is called as Social BI. Social BI is used to process, view and analyze the business data generated by Social Networking Sites and the associated business activities. It is becoming a part of mainstream BI because SNS is not only used for marketing and but e-tailing, e-grocery, eHealth and other e-commerce are also moving towards use of Social Networking site as sales-channels. Adidas and HP had done really good business from SNS in FY11-12. Yellowfin and Actuate BIRT Social are some of popular products in the ecosystem of Social Analytics or Social BI. The HootSuite’s Reporting capability, SummAll and Google Analytics™ are also similar types of product in market.

As the business decisions are also dependent on geographical location, climate and people of target region and its lifestyle, it has become necessity to view and analyze the geo-topographical data in doing the business analysis. This is made possible through geographical BI.GeoBI allows to plot the business information based on geographical coordinates and other business parameters like product name, product categories and brand. GeoBI takes the leverage of geo-coordinated data stored in the RDBMS/ODBMS capable of storing the business data mapped with geographical details.

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What Is GeoBI?
GeoBI™ is BI product with 100% support for Geo-Business Intelligence. Portability of report on hand-held devices like Smart phones, Tablet,Phablets and PaperTabs are made possible through a specialized feature of BI Platforms and it marketed as Mobile BI™. Actuate, Sybase and IBM are marketing Mobile BI bundled inside their BI Platforms.

The importance of owing the on-house BI-infrastructure is losing its share towards Cloud based BI either as Cloud-SAAS or Cloud-PASS. Cloud-SAAS Business Intelligence has already occupied the significant amount of market share as this Business Model is suitable not only for larger enterprises but also for the SMEs, MSEMs and smaller start-ups too. Social BI available under Cloud-SAAS model facilitates easiness to configure and deploy it as BI Capability.

What Makes BI A Great Success ?
The success of Business Intelligence depends upon the rate of user adoption too and which in turn depends upon the easiness and user-friendliness of BI solution delivered to different sets of users- end-Users, Business Users, Business Analysts and Management Executives. Although the success of BI comes by the passage of time with the increase in usage-adoption rate and its success depends on some strategies formulated at the initial stage of BI implementation. It is better idea to make BI an organizational initiative rather than making it only departmental or individual initiative, involving all users, managers including CEO,CMO and CFO and technical groups including CTO along with BI Consultant at the requirements analysis and design phase.

Active participation of CXO (CEO, COO, CMO, CFO) makes requirements understanding better and complete at level of organizational expectations leaving the enough room for implementation team and CIO/CTO to think and strategize better Solution for the given requirements. The proposed BI Solution can be broken up into different modules to get the user feedback during the first module and it helps in avoiding repetitiveness of already occurred functional and other mismatch in the expectation from first module. This practice helps in lowering the TCO and gives the higher ROI. Each suggestion or change request collected during UAT and UWT can be considered to make the better practices for up-coming modules and other future delivery to cater the best BI solution in industry.

Analysis & Author By: Amrit Chhetri, Copyright(C): Amrit, 2013