The next challenge in information worker empowerment

Teradata CTO Stephen Brobst was interviewed regarding the topic “There is money in unstructured data”. The article mentioned Teradata teaming up with Attensity. Attensity has the technology to extract “feelings” from text, interesting. Stephen Brobst also stated that he sees an increasing desire in advanced analytics: creating and answering analytical questions.

I agree with Stephen on that last point. More and more BI solutions provide the user with a semantic layer which they can use to make reports without being exposed to the technical nuts and bolts. Client tools like Microsoft Excel and Business Objects Designer encourage the business user to explore their data / information on their terms. It was only a few years ago when business users complained being dependant on IT for reporting. With that hurdle now overcome its on to the next one, which is, yes you guessed right, advanced analytics.

Unfortunately Microsoft does not have an answer to this “wish” yet. I have registered a connect entry here. Yes there is PowerPivot, but lets be honest, PowerPivot is for Excel guru’s (aka programmers in disguise).

Being Microsoft orientatated does not make me blind for other BI solutions, especially when I see them working for customers. Both SiSense and SAP Busines Objects give the business the tooling to perform advanced analytics. The major drawback I find with these solutions is information lock – in; these solutions dont integrate well with commonly used office applications, which is Microsoft Office.

Attending the Kimball class “Microsoft data warehouse in depth”

This week I attended this class with high expectations. Being a BI consultant I always want to know more about best practices for setting up a BI project. Because my primary toolset consists of Microsoft tooling (SQL Server, Excel 2010, SharePoint 2010 etc.) I thought this particular class would be very interesting. Another reason for me to attend this class (or, actually any BI related class) is getting to know interesting colleagues in the field. Which I fortunately did 🙂 

The course is set up around the “Kimball Data warehouse lifecycle”. Basicly this “lifecycle” explains all of the components in a typical BI project.
The goal of the course is to show how each component in this “lifecycle” is “mapped” to the Microsoft BI Stack .

For people who have no or little experience with Microsoft tooling and are new to the “Kimball data warehouse lifecylce” this course is recommendable. However, I have set up quit a few BI projects using tools from the Microsoft BI stack. That having said,  this particular Kimball course was a dissapointment to me. The course explained virtualy every topic on a 30.000 feet level, where I expected more detail. Things got worse for me when we dove into the specific technical components like “Microsoft Integration Services” and “Microsoft Analysis Services”. At the risk of sounding arrogant; nothing was really new to me.

So was it a total waste of time? In short, no. It refreshed my memory on many of the core concepts of data warehousing and, like I said earlier, I got to meet interesting new people. and I got be a total BI nerd for 4 days witout any constraints 🙂

PS: While writting this blog I had to make a connection to internet, while attempting to do so I saw this funny connection, thought I would share this: