What is a figure without any context?

We are currently living in the information age. Several devices, (mobile) applications and computer programs are generating and collecting lots of data. A lot of decisions are made based on a “gut feeling“. In a lot of cases, this will not be any problem. If you cannot trust your gut, who or what can you trust? Still, I think that your gut is based on several years of experience. Why not use data to validate your gut? It will improve your decision-making process. You do not only have your gut, which might be difficult to understand for others, but you have the figures to prove it. Sounds easy, right? Just report some figures and you are done. The real added value to the decision-making process comes when you are able to really understand the data.

Lately, we have seen several examples of not being able to put data into the right context. The public was absolutely sure that Brexit was not going to happen. Who would have thought that Trump would be the next US President? A lot of data about these matters has been collected. Still, it was not possible to predict the outcome. Some important questions can be asked. How was the complete data set constructed? Was the data set representative for the total population involved?

“A picture says more than a thousand words“. This sounds like a true statement. Our brains are better suited to process images than they are able to make sense of a table of figures. But what does a certain visual tell you? What does it exactly mean if we see a decrease in sales for the year 2016? It is not enough to make decisions solely based on the output of a chart. It is the story behind the chart that counts. If we had known the weather was bad in June 2016, we might have been able to explain the drop in ice cream sales in that same month. Being able to visualize the data is one thing. Applying context to the visual is key to make the right decisions.

“Drive change by converting Data into Insight”

If we want to stay ahead of our competition, we need to do things differently. This means the organisation has to change, as in doing things differently and better. Better than last time and better than the competition. Change can be driven by converting data into insight. This whole process consists of a few different steps. First, you have to capture the data. Think about data sources already present within the organisation. Sometimes, it can be valuable to add additional data sources. It might be good to add data about the weather to predict or clarify ice cream sales for a certain period. After the data is captured it needs to be processed. Different data sources need to be combined and some attributes and / or measures might need some additional formatting. If the data sets are ready to be presented, it’s time to think about the best way to visualize data. Not all visualizations are equally suitable to present figures. It makes no sense to present time series in a pie chart. Also the choice of colors can have a huge impact on the interpretation of a visual.

Traditional BI is really focused on answering known questions. How were sales in 2016? Who achieved the highest revenue in 2016? These questions can be modeled upfront in a BI system. The answers to these questions can lead to new questions: why were sales so low in the month of June in 2016? These questions may require new data sources. These data sources can be combined with existing (modeled) data sources. A combination of data sources might yield different insights. This is the process of data discovery. Adding data about the weather or adding information about visitors to a city or a store can give valuable additional information. This additional information adds more value and makes the insights more complete. It gives the possibility to identify interesting patterns, opportunities and previously unknown trends.

Eventually the insights can be shared among other people like your colleagues. A story can be told based on the different insights as a result of the data discovery.

 

“See the Signals”

The Oracle Business Analytics philosophy is to support both traditional BI as well as data discovery. Traditional BI is a process, which is supported by IT. In a traditional BI environment, the IT department guarantees the validity and availability of the data. This data can be traced all the way back from the presentation to the source. Although one can really trust on this data, these environments are not as flexible as the business would like them to be. Sometimes, the business wants to play around with some other data. They want to explore data, which is not yet modeled and governed by the IT department. This data discovery needs to be a self-service process. Waiting for an IT department is not an option. The business wants to be able to visualize their data when they need it.

Oracle’s answer to self-service BI is Oracle Data Visualization (DV). Oracle DV offers the opportunity to add different data sources. With some lightweight ETL capabilities, Oracle DV is able to support the combination of different data sources and the manipulations of the different columns within these data sources. Like the name of the tool tells us, Oracle Data Visualization is a tool to visualize various sources of data in an easy way. This means that complex data sets can be turned into easy to digest and supporting insights. These insights can be shared in separate visual, which allows you to both visualize the data as well as telling the story behind the data.

Oracle Data Visualization is available both on-premise as well as in the Cloud. Moreover, Oracle DV is available as part of a platform (OBIEE and / or BICS) and stand-alone (Oracle DVCS). If you have acquired a license for Oracle DVD, you are allowed to use the Oracle Data Visualization Desktop (DVD) tool. Oracle DVD cannot be licensed separately. It comes with an Oracle DV license. Using Oracle DV allows you to “See the Signals” on any device. Desktop, tablet or browser, it does not matter.

Oracle DV uses the same platform whether you use it in the Cloud or on-premise. This means that you can start very small. If you start with an Oracle Data Visualization Cloud Service, you can start with a subscription of 5 users for as little as $75 per user per month. If Oracle DVCS proves its value, you can easily choose to move to e.g. the Oracle BI Cloud Service (BICS) without the need to start all over.

The Quistor Business Analytics and Big Data practice is specialized in the Oracle Business Analytics offer. If we need to put the offer into more context, we are happy to help you out. Although Oracle Data Visualization is designed to be easily executed by the business, you might need some help to get started. Again, we are happy to put you on the right track.

Please get in contact with me, so we can start telling the story behind your figures.

This article was originally written for the 4th edition of the Quistor QPulse.

The Quistor Business Analytics & Big Data Practice is expanding

Working at Quistor

 

We are expanding our Quistor Business Analytics & Big Data Practice. Therefore we are looking for new colleagues. Please find the vacancies for a Senior Oracle Business Analytics Consultant and a Senior Oracle Data Integrator Consultant below.

Please get into contact with me or send a mail to jobs@quistor.com. If you are not interested yourself, but know someone who might be, I would really appreciate it if you would let me know.

Thanks in advance.

Daan Bakboord

Managing Consultant Quistor Business Analytics & Big Data. Managing and developing the Oracle Business Analytics Practice in the Netherlands. Because of the DNA of Quistor I have a strong focus on Oracle Business Analytics (OBIEE, BICS &OBIA) and Oracle JDEdwards. Next to that I have strong interest in (the Architecture of) Business Analytics and Data Warehousing in general (TOGAF, ArchiMate and CBIP) and Oracle Business Analytics Architectures in specific.

Separate the Signals from the Noise

Earlier this year I wrote two blogposts about the publication of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytic Platforms.

Without choosing sides between Gartner or Oracle, it is clear that the landscape of analytics (and the tools and techniques to support analytics) is changing.

Today I viewed a webcast where both Rita Sallam (Research Vice President Business Analytics and Data Sciences @ Gartner) and Rich Clayton (Vice President Business Analytics @ Oracle) express their views on:

  • The current and future state of the BI/Analytics market
  • Oracle’s answer to the evolution of this market
  • Some of the types of Analytics use cases
  • How to see the signals in your data and discover the answers

Find the link to the webcast below:

The Industry Experts’ Guide to the Changing Landscape of Analytics

Quistor believes in Oracle’s strategy when it comes to Business Intelligence and Analytics. If necessary or desired, we would be happy to put things in context.

Daan Bakboord

This article is originally written for LinkedIn.

Oracle Business Analytics from a different angle

Gartner’s latest version of the Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms (#BIAMQ) caused a lot of noise in the Analytics Market. Gartner and Oracle have different views of this market. Gartner sees a difference; “…between a modern BI and Analytics Platform and a traditional, IT-centric Reporting and Analysis Platform”.

It’s clear that Oracle and Gartner have a different view on the Analytics Market. Is it Agile BI and / or Enterprise Reporting? There are probably several pros and cons for either view. In the end I don’t believe it’s a matter of right or wrong. Although Oracle is not included in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, that does not mean that Oracle does not have a strategy when it comes to Business Analytics. It’s important that you see and understand the context of a certain view. I will try to give some more insights into Oracle’s Business Analytics Strategy.

Oracle Business Analytics Strategy

If an organization wants to stay ahead of the competition, it should focus on innovation. The Oracle Business Analytics Strategy supports this drive towards innovation with the Oracle Business Analytics Portfolio. This Portfolio consists of the following elements:

  • Operational Reporting (Monitoring)
  • Strategic Analytics (Optimization)
  • Visual Discovery (Innovation)

Operational Reporting (Monitoring) 

Although there is more and more focus on innovating an organization’s business, people still need (real-time) operational information to support their daily work. Employees use operational reports to solve problems or to monitor their daily operations.

Operational Reporting represents the current state of the different areas of the organization.

 

Strategic Analytics (Optimization)

Operational Reporting is specific per Line of Business. Business Leaders tend to look across the different Lines of Business. Strategic Analytics focuses on metrics that deliver insight. Questions like; ‘Why did it happen?‘ and ‘What will going to happen?‘ need to be answered.

Strategic Analytics represents the state of an organization as a whole.

Visual Discovery (Innovation)

The first two elements of the Oracle Business Analytics Portfolio are considered traditional forms of BI. Over the last years organizations have developed a need to explore various data sets without IT support. Organizations use visual data discovery tools to identify patterns and opportunities for innovation. These visual data discovery tools focus on ease of use and the ability to visualize different (complex) data sets.

Visual Discovery helps organizations answer questions like; ‚Should we invest in new sales channels?‘ or ‚Has a discount a positive effect on our revenue?‘.

To summarize, the Oracle Analytics Portfolio supports the drive towards innovation across the entire organization for all users and all analytic needs. According to Oracle, organizations need a bi-modal Business Analytics Strategy. This strategy is designed for IT-led (consistancy & scalability) and Business-led (speed & discovery) analytics initiatives.

 

Hybrid Cloud

Traditional BI platforms are characterized by IT-controlled reports and analysis on desktop dashboards. New BI platforms must be able to support the visualization of different (personal) data sets on mobile and wearables in the cloud or in a hybrid environment.

Oracle wants to extend existing investments in on-premise architectures with innovations in the cloud. Therefore the Oracle Analytics Portfolio can be deployed anywhere on-premise as well as in the cloud or in any hybrid form. It does not matter which deployment option is chosen, it’s the same architecture, the same standard and the same product.

Oracle’s Business Analytics Strategy aims at supporting IT-led buying as well as buying driven by the business. Next to that Oracle’s Business Analytics portfolio can be deployed on-premise as well as in the cloud. When it comes to; ‚buying driven by the business‘, Oracle offers Stand alone products as well as products integrated in the platform.The Oracle Business Analytics offering consists of the following products:

  • Data Visualization On-Premise
  • Data Visualization Cloud Service (DVCS)
  • Oracle BI Cloud Service (BICS)
    • Including Data Visualization
  • Oracle BI 12c
    • Data Visualization (add-on)

Oracle Data Visualization

With Oracle Data Visualization users can; ‚See the Signals‘. Oracle offers Visual Analytics in every solution, on every device, embedded in the cloud or integrated in the platform and even in the Big Data stack. Oracle Data Visualization enables users to create rich visuals of any data set in an intuitive way. Users can bring in different types of data sets to blend data together. Visualizations can be shared with others. Oracle Data Visualization supports; ‚Storytelling‘. This way users can help others see the same patterns and opportunities. Last but not least, Oracle Data Visualization is fully portable between any (mobile) device.

Oracle Data Visualization is simple but powerful. It is designed to support (small) departmental initiatives which should be performed without IT support. Oracle Visual Analytics projects can be started small, but can grow if necessary.

An organization can start with a subscription to the Data Visualization Cloud Service (DVCS) at a price of $150 per named user per month with a minimum of 5 users.

Sign up for a trial subscription to the Oracle Data Visualization Cloud Service here.

Oracle BI Cloud Service

The Oracle BI Cloud Service (BICS) is a complete Cloud Solution for Enterprise BI. With BICS it’s possible to combine any data from any data source. Via dozens of visualizations and calculations users can gain unique insights. BICS runs in the Oracle Cloud. The environment is fully managed, patched, backed up and upgraded by Oracle. This means that organizations running BICS can reduce significantly on operations, software, hardware and facilities.

Visual Analytics can be embedded into an Enterprise solution and that’s what makes Oracle unique. BICS makes it possible to integrate (blend) personal and enterprise data. Finally, BI applications are portable between on-premise and the cloud.

Sign up for a trial subscription to the Oracle Business Intelligence Cloud Service here.

Oracle Business Intelligence 12c

OBI 12c is one integrated platform which runs on-premise. Oracle Data Visualization can be embedded as a paid add-on. Oracle Business Intelligence 12c has a modern interface design. The new Alta UI, which is used across all Oracle’s applications, has a clean page design and is focussed on the data. One of the key new features in OBI 12c are the Advanced Analytics capabilities. This way a user can instantly answer predictive and statistical questions via a free distribution of R. Next to that Oracle made improvements to the mobile experience and the in-memory performance. Last but certainly not least, Oracle has made the OBI 12c a lot simpler. This means that Oracle has simplified the installation and configuration. This makes upgrading from 11g to 12c a lot less difficult than the upgrade from 10g to 11g. Also Regression Testing is made easy with the Baseline Validation Tool.

Oracle Business Intelligence 12c is an Enterprise Analytics Platform. It is Business Leader friendly as well as IT-friendly. OBI 12c allows users to upload their personal data and combine the results with IT-curated data for quick analysis and data visualization.

 

Summary

The Oracle Business Analytics Strategy is based on three pillars:

  • See the Signals
    • Visual Analytics in every solution
  • Sprint to Innovation
    • Cloud First strategy
  • Scale the Insights
    • One integrated platform

Quistor believes in Oracle’s strategy when it comes to Business Intelligence and Analytics. If necessary or desired, we would be happy to put things in context.

Daan Bakboord

This article is originally written for Quistor’s QPulse.

So Oracle did not make it to the Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms?

MQ for BI & Analytics - 2016Earlier this month Gartner released a new version of the Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms. This release has caused a lot of noise in the Analytics Market. Vendors have changed quadrants or even disappeared completely (eg. Oracle).

Traditionally, the Analytics Market is characterized by IT-led buying. Over the last years there is a transition ongoing towards Business-led buying. IT-led buying focusses on governance, consistency and scalability. Business-led buying on the other hand has a focus on speed and discovery.

So why did Oracle disappear from the Magic Quadrant? Oracle and Gartner have a different view / opinion when it comes to Business Intelligence & Analytics.

Gartner writes the following in their Summary; “The BI and analytics platform market’s multiyear shift from IT-led enterprise reporting to business-led self-service analytics has passed the tipping point. Most new buying is of modern, business-user-centric platforms forcing a new market perspective, significantly reordering the vendor landscape.” 

Oracle’s Business Analytics Product offering focusses on IT as well as the Business. It’s Oracle’s vision to support both to be able to realize the full potential of Analytics.

Since Oracle acquired Siebel, Oracle offers a platform; OBIEE, which supports the IT-led buying. Over the last years Oracle experienced a lot of competition from companies like QlikView and Tableau. These companies have successfully targeted the Agile / Self-Service preferences of the Business. Oracle was not able to compete with these companies. Last year Oracle has launched their Oracle Data Visualization (Visual Analyzer) product. Visual Analyzer is Oracle’s answer to QlikView and Tableau. Now Oracle is able to service both IT as well as the Business.

This is the difference between the view / opinion of Gartner versus Oracle. Gartner focusses in its Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms on the Business and Self-Service. Oracle focusses both on IT and the Business. Oracle offers OBIEE (IT) and Visual Analyzer (Business) On Premise or BICS (IT) and Visual Analyzer (Business) in the Cloud. 

The confusing thing might be that Gartner shifted its focus to solely Business Intelligence and Analytics for the Business, while the name of the Magic Quadrant still is the same as last year.

For me it is not a matter of right or wrong, but I think it is good to see things in context.

I believe in Oracle’s strategy when it comes to Business Intelligence and Analytics. If necessary or desired, I would be happy to put things in context.

Daan Bakboord

Het bestaande hoeft zich nooit te verdedigen en het nieuwe moet zich constant verantwoorden.

Een keer in het jaar sta ik samen met Eric van ‘t Zelfde op een hockeyveld in Schiedam. Wij maken beiden deel uit van een illuster gezelschap; Semper Stultior ’96. Elk laatste weekend van augustus komen wij samen om te strijden om de Japie Cup. Naast het feit dat we een hoop lol maken biedt dit ons de kans om Japie (een gezamenlijke vriend) te herdenken.

Afgelopen weekend heb ik de tijd genomen om Eric’s boek; Superschool te lezen. In Superschool vertelt Eric zijn levensgeschiedenis en beschrijft hij hoe hij en zijn team binnen vijf jaar een slechte school in Rotterdam Zuid promoveren naar een van de beste scholen van Nederland.

Superschool is een boek voor iedereen. Iedereen heeft in welke vorm dan ook ‘iets’ met het onderwijs te maken. Voor mezelf als vader is het leerzaam om te lezen hoe het onderwijs eruit kan zien vanaf de andere kant. Gek genoeg heeft het boek ook raakvlakken met mijn professionele leven als Oracle Business Analytics Consultant. Zaken als leiderschap, passie en ondernemerschap zijn onmisbaar in mijn werk. Ook met IQ, EQ en accu kom ik een heel end.

Een zin uit het Superschool is mij bijgebleven. Het is wellicht niet de kern van het verhaal, maar voor mij wel heel herkenbaar;  

“Het bestaande hoeft zich nooit te verdedigen en het nieuwe moet zich constant verantwoorden.”

Bij de veel van onze klanten waar ik binnenkom, wordt een bestaande Analytics omgeving vervangen door een nieuwe. Uiteraard heb ik een gekleurde mening. Ik ben besmet met het rode Oracle virus. Uiteindelijk maakt het niet uit voor welke oplossing of toepassing gekozen wordt. Als de keuze eenmaal gemaakt is, moet je er het maximale uit halen. Technisch is wat mij betreft alles mogelijk. De uitdaging zit hem vaak in de verandering. Het slagen van een nieuwe Analytics omgeving wordt bepaald door het gebruik ervan. De bestaande omgeving heeft zich al bewezen. De waarde van het nieuwe moet nog blijken.

De Oracle Business Analytics strategie is gericht op 3 pijlers

  • See the Signals –> Visual Analytics in every solution 
  • Sprint to Innovation  –> Cloud first
  • Scale the Insights –> One integrated platform

Deze strategie vertaalt zich in de volgende producten (On-Premise en in de Cloud)

Uw bestaande Analytics omgeving heeft zich wellicht al bewezen. Toch ben ik ervan overtuigd dat Oracle’s nieuwe aanbod waarde kan toevoegen. Ik kom graag met u de mogelijkheden van het Oracle Business Analytics aanbod doornemen.

Handouts – Introducing Oracle’s Information Management Reference Architecture

One of the great things of working in the Oracle Business Analytics industry is the fact that there is a very active community. Both online as well as offline. Oracle supports these activities where possible. Last week I attended an offline session at Oracle HQ in the Netherlands. This session was a event organized by the oGH and the OBUG (the SIG BIWA). Marti Koppelmans provided an Introduction into Oracle’s Information Management Reference Architecture. As promised he has posted some of his material on the oGH side. If you are interested, have a look at the following;

Although the titles are in Dutch, the contents are in English.

I will try to leave my notes here whit in a few days