Tomorrow at 4pm I am presenting at the annual EDM Summit in Orlando on the topic of Business Intelligence as a Service. Check out the presentation below.
This presentation is based on a real life project that I once worked on. We had a scenario where the business had a very complicated set of business rules required to determine what inventory was available to sell. Inventory for a loyalty marketing company is very dynamic and is not a physical thing like a widget. Instead it is a data mining exercise comprised of many "What-if" scenarios.
The old way of doing things was to get data from many different sources, some from systems, some from spread sheets, and some from somebody's head, and go through an ugly and error-prone process to determine what was available to sell. The process took many days which puzzled the customer why we couldn't tell them right away if we could run the program or not. Through some analysis, we defined new and improved business processes and data services that would allow our sales people to enter numerous parameters on a new web UI and let the systems return information to the screen with potential sales opportunities.
When the designers brought their solution to the architecture team for review we saw a huge opportunity to change the approach that was being recommended for the user interface. The designers were Java guys so naturally they recommended a Java web based UI (which infuriated the .Net community). But as I looked at the multiple screens that they story boarded it became obvious that building a what-if type UI was not best served by building proprietary code. Business Intelligence tools make a living doing just that. So I put a hold on the design and recommended that we brought in our BI partner for a proof of concept.
To make a long story short, we proved with our BI partner, that we could leverage the BI tool to create a robust what-if style GUI which we could talk to all of the layers of our SOA (see slides for details). In other words, we abstracted the BI tool as our presentation layer. What that gave us was all of the bells and whistles that come with BI tools like:
- Flash enabled output
- Subscription services
- Mobile capabilities
- Great scalability
- and much more
So the key point to this story is that you can leverage BI as an abstracted layer within your SOA which will help maximize the value of your existing BI investment.