Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Junk Viz - When More is Less

There are examples of junk visualizations, and then there are examples of junk charts that just take your breath away.

The Indian news portal, FirstPost.in, which describes itself as a "trusted guide to the crush of news and ideas around you", published a story titled Shivraj set for massive victory in Madhya Pradesh: Survey | Firstpost, which has this chart (link to the image) - take a minute to study it. Then study it again. It is no optical illusion or card-trick being played here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

OBIEE 11.1.1.7.131017 Bundle Patch Now Available

A new bundle patch for Oracle Business Intelligence became available last week. This is OBIEE Bundle Patch 11.1.1.7.131017, and is available on the following platforms:
  • HP-UX  Itanium
  • IBM AIX on POWER Systems (64-bit)
  • Linux x86
  • Linux x86-64
  • Microsoft Windows (32-bit)
  • Microsoft Windows (64-bit)
  • Oracle Solaris on x86-64 (64-bit)
It is applicable to all customers running OBIEE versions 11.1.1.7.0 and 11.1.1.7.1

Friday, October 25, 2013

HBR and Junk Charts

Even the best can get it wrong. Only sometimes though, one hopes.
The venerable Harvard Business Review gets data visualizations horribly wrong. They have a post on Facebook where they contrast the costs of cancer treatment in the US and India.

The cost in the US is $22,000 on average, while in India it is shown as $2,900 (I would dispute this figure, as it looks very low).
The ratios is 7.58:1 (22000÷2900)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

BI Mobile HD App 11.1.1.7

Finally got around to writing my long overdue post on the new BI Mobile HD app. To get on with it, without much ado, not to loiter, and all that... here goes.

The new BI Mobile HD app, version 11.1.1.7.0.2094, can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes App Store (link to app preview page on iTunes).
If you already have the BI Mobile HD app installed on your iOS device, you should get an App Store notification on the availability of an upgrade. Note, that since this version is available only for iOS version 6 (and above), if you are running an older version of iOS, you will not get a notification, and will not be able to download it. If you check the Wikipedia iPhone page (link) you will see that the iPhone 3GS and later devices support iOS 6. As far as the iPad device goes, if you check the Wikipedia page (link), iPad 2 and later devices support iOS 6.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Creating your first app with the BI Mobile App Designer

While creating sophisticated mobile apps that provide a rich feature set takes time, expectedly, what is wonderful about the recently launched Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile App Designer is the fact that you can be up and running without requiring a week-long training and a Master's degree in Computer Engineering.

Here's a short video I recorded on creating your first app with the BI Mobile App Designer (the direct URL on YouTube). A note of caution, and an apology of sorts - the audio in last few seconds of the video dramatically jumps up in volume. This is because I recorded these last few seconds later, and used different audio settings. I should have normalized it. I live, and I learn.


Introduction to the BI Mobile App Designer

Oracle launched a brand new addition to its Business Intelligence Mobile solution - BI Mobile App Designer, which lets you create stunning, interactive mobile apps, literally within minutes. Apps created run on mobile devices running a reasonably modern mobile browser - that can handle HTML5 and jQuery - and are available on both smartphone and tablet form factors.

White spaces and Map Views

When working with Map Views, you can choose to collapse the map formats panel on the left.

When you do that, the panel is hidden, but white space is displayed on either side of the map view, where the panel used to be.

Currently there is no option to remove this white space through a UI setting.

Monday, September 02, 2013

OBIEE 11.1.1.6.12 Bundle Patch Now Available

Over the weekend, and this does happen to be a long weekend in the US, on account of Labor Day in the US, Bundle Patch 11.1.1.6.12 for Oracle Business Intelligence was released, and is now available for download from the My Oracle Support portal.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Using R to Unlock the Value of Big Data, by Mark Hornick


Using R to Unlock the Value of Big Data, by Tom Plunkett, Mark Hornick

This is a brief (approximately 80 pages) introduction targeted at users with an intermediate-level exposure of R and who want to get a quick look at working with R with Oracle's products. Strictly speaking, this is not an introduction to R, nor is this an R tutorial. It is, very specifically, an introduction to R as it integrates with and relates to the Oracle Database, the Oracle R Distribution, and the Oracle R Connector for Hadoop. The main chapters are "Using Oracle R Enterprise" and "Oracle R Connector for Hadoop", which have sixteen and seventeen examples, respectively, to help you get started.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lying with Charts - Global Warming Graph

Global warming is a serious yet controversial enough topic without bringing in bad data visualizations practices into it. The Wonkblog on the Washington Post has an article titled, "You can’t deny global warming after seeing this graph". The post reproduces a chart prepared by the World Meteorological Association that plots global temperatures by decade. While the data shows that the last decade, 2001-2010, was the hottest on record, the graph uses a broken Y-axis that begins at 13.4°C instead of starting at zero. The chart does not hide this fact, and you can see that the chart's Y-axis starts at 13.4°C, but the most visually prominent piece in the graph is, well, the graph! And it screams the message that global temperatures are going off the charts - it's time to panic. There is no denying that we as a world need to get serious about investing in alternative and renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, and even nuclear, but this graph is just plain bad.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Smart View Version to use with OBIEE 11.1.1.7.1

Users who have downloaded the latest version of Oracle Business Intelligence 11g - 11.1.1.7.1, and wish to use the Oracle Hyperion Smart View for Office add-in to connect to Oracle BI, need to use the latest version of Smart View - 11.1.2.3 - that is available for download on OTN here.
After downloading this version of Smart View, if you want this version of Smart View to be available as a link from the Home Page of Oracle BI EE (the "Download BI Desktop Tools" dropdown under the "Get Started..." section), you need to follow the instructions (also see Installing and Deinstalling Oracle Business Intelligence Client Tools)
You can find more information in the BI documentation library (Business Intelligence Documentation for Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g (11.1.1.7)) or in the Oracle Essbase Documentation Library, Release 11.1.2.2.200

Happy Monday!
Abhinav,
Bangalore, July 08, 2013

Thursday, July 04, 2013

BI Mobile HD Universal App Released

A new version (11.1.1.7.0.1879) of the Oracle BI Mobile HD App was released to the Apple iTunes App Store on Wednesday. This release has several new features of note. This updated version also fixes some issues that were reported in the update that went out late last week on the 28th of June.

  • All users are recommended to upgrade to this version of the BI Mobile HD app. There were login issues with the iPad version of the earlier app and orientation issues with the iPhone app. Both issues were noticed almost immediately after the app went live on the App Store and development traced these to a problem with the configuration of the app uploaded to the App Store. 
  • Users will notice that this is app now supports the iPhone (and iPod) device also. Therefore users will see this app on their iPhone when they search for it on the App Store. 

Monday, July 01, 2013

OBIEE 11.1.1.6.11 Bundle Patch Now Available

Last week saw the release of the OBIEE Bundle Patch 11.1.1.7.1 and on Friday bundle patch 11.1.1.6.11 for Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition became available on the Oracle My Support Portal.

The tracking ids for the respective bundle patch components are:
  • Oracle Business Intelligence Installer (BIINST): ID: 16747681
  • Oracle Real Time Decisions (RTD): ID: 16747684
  • Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher (BIP): ID: 16747692
  • Oracle Business Intelligence ADF Components (BIADFCOMPS): ID:  16747699
  • Enterprise Performance Management Components Installed from BI Installer 11.1.1.6.x (BIFNDNEPM): ID:  16747703
  • Oracle Business Intelligence: (OBIEE): ID: 16717325
  • Oracle Business Intelligence Platform Client Installers and MapViewer: ID: 16747708
Happy Monday to all!
Abhinav
Bangalore

Friday, June 28, 2013

OBIEE Bundle Patch 11.1.1.7.1 Now Available

Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Bundle Patch 11.1.1.7.1 is now available for download. The bundle patch id is 16556157 and can be downloaded from the My Oracle Support portal for Microsoft Windows x64 and Linux x86-64 platforms.

The ReadMe states "This Suite Bundle Patch is available for all customers who are using Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11.1.1.7.0."



Thursday, June 27, 2013

OBIEE 11.1.1.7.0 Certified with Database 12c

Couple of updates in the world of Oracle, both related. The first is that the Oracle Database 12c is now generally available and can be downloaded from the Oracle Technology Network here (subject to the OTN Developer License Terms). Three platforms are supported - Linux x86-64, Solaris Sparc64, and  Solaris (x86-64).

You may want to take a look at the Plug into the Cloud with Oracle Database 12c White Paper. Coincident with the release, there is a series of events being organized. You can find one in your city or near it at Oracle Database 12c | Oracle Technology Day page.
The first place to begin to learn about this new release is of course the documentation library. Specifically, you should have the 2 Day DBA, 2 Day + Security Guide, the New Features Guide, and the Concepts guide bookmarked. I have, and my summer plan (monsoon plan here in India) is to go over these books.

The documentation library is also dedicated to the memory of Mark Townsend, who passed away unexpectedly in April 2012.
Contributor: The Oracle Database 12c documentation is dedicated to Mark Townsend, who was an inspiration to all who worked on this release.

The second update is that the Oracle Fusion Middleware Supported System Configurations page has an updated System Requirements and Supported Platforms for Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition 11gR1 matrix for 11.1.1.7.0, which now includes Oracle Database 12c as a supported database. Specifically, Oracle Database version 12.1.0.1 and above are now supported with Oracle BI EE 11.1.1.7.0 only. This certification does not extend to older releases of Oracle BI.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Oracle BI Apps 11.1.1.7.1 Available

The latest version of Oracle Business Intelligence Applications, version 11.1.1.7.1, became available for download on the Oracle Technology Network.

You can download the software here.
The documentation library can be accessed here.

Some of the highlights of this release of Oracle BI Apps are:
  • New applications, including Student Information Analytics, that provides an integrated view of admissions and recruiting, student records and student financials. It is certified with PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.0 (Bundle # 25),  and Indirect Spend Planning, that enables procurement teams to forecast indirect spend, and use packaged what-if modeling tools to reduce spend.
  • Content enhancements to Financials, HR, Projects, CRM, Procurement and Spend Planning, and Supply Chain & Order Management Applications.
  • New TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) tools, including a GUI based configuration and a functional setup tool.
  • This version of BI Apps is based on the technology infrastructure of the Oracle BI EE 11.1.1.7.0 release.
  • As an optional feature to this release, an enhanced ETL architecture using Oracle Golden Gate is now available.
  • These BI Applications are now available with the next-generational ELT architecture of ODI (Oracle Data Integrator)
A busy season for analytics releases.
Abhinav,
8th May 2013, Bangalore

Friday, May 03, 2013

BI Mobile Security Toolkit for 11.1.1.7.0

The Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile Security Toolkit 11.1.1.7 for Apple iPad (iOS 5 & 6) is now available for download at http://goo.gl/Mq6rI


The Oracle BI Mobile Security Toolkit "provides the ability to generate a signed version of the Oracle BI Mobile HD application. The toolkit includes the instructions and necessary content to build this application making use of Apple’s Xcode and the IOS SDKs."

Please see my previous post, Oracle BI Mobile Security Toolkit, for more details.

Weekend, it's fast approaching.
Abhinav, 3 May 2013
Bangalore

11.1.1.6.10 Bundle Patch for OBIEE Now Available

Earlier in the week the latest bundle patch for Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition - 11.1.1.6.10 - became available to Oracle customers on the My Oracle Support portal. "This patchset is available for all customers who are using Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11.1.1.6.0, 11.1.1.6.1, 11.1.1.6.2, 11.1.1.6.2 BP1, 11.1.1.6.4, 11.1.1.6.5, 11.1.1.6.6, 11.1.1.6.7, 11.1.1.6.8, and 11.1.1.6.9."
  1. Oracle Business Intelligence Installer: Tracking Bug 16504136
  2. Oracle Real Time Decisions: Tracking Bug 16504143
  3. Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher: Tracking Bug 16504148
  4. Oracle Business Intelligence ADF Components: Tracking Bug 16504154
  5. EPM Components Installed from BI Installer 11.1.1.6.x: Tracking Bug 16504156
  6. Oracle Business Intelligence: Tracking Bug: 16427939
  7. Oracle Business Intelligence Platform Client Installers and MapViewer: Tracking Bug 16504161
You can search for this patchset on the My Oracle Support portal by using the "Recommended Patch Advisor" and selecting "Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition" from the "Product" dropdown and "11.1.1.6.0" from the "Release" dropdown. 

This will lead to the search results page listing all the available patches available.


Why are bundle patches recommended? They are recommended because these are a collection of critical bug fixes for a product or specific products. These patches can sometimes also contain minor enhancements as well as security updates. These patches undergo a rigorous set of tests before they are released for consumption by customers. Furthermore, these bundle patches are cumulative in nature, which means a bundle patch contains the contents of previous bundle patches that have been released. 

As always, you should carefully go over the documentation accompanying the bundle patch and come to a considered decision on applying the patch.

Thank you,
Abhinav, 3 May 2013
Bangalore.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Upcoming Oracle BI Applications Book

Oracle BI Apps book
(Image credit: Mc-Graw Hill)
I cam to know of this book, Oracle Business Intelligence Applications: Deliver Value Through Rapid Implementations, written by veteran Oracle BI experts, Simon Miller and Will Hutchinson, published by Mc-Graw Hill, and expected to release in July 2013 (as per the publisher's site).

The authors, Simon Miller and Will Hutchinson have between them over 40 years of experience in the area of business intelligence, and are eminently qualified to write this book. I have worked with Simon for over seven years, and can speak to his knowledge in Oracle BI.

I look forward to the release of this book, and hope that practitioners of Oracle Business Intelligence Applications find this book to be a valuable aid in their work.

Table of Contents (from the publisher's web site):
  1. Crash Course in Data Warehouse Survival
  2. Don't Reinvent Any Wheels
  3. Exalytics, Run, Don't Walk
  4. Finance Analytics
  5. Management Analytics
  6. Manufacturing Analytics
  7. Procurement and Spend Analytics
  8. HR Analytics
  9. EAM Analytics
  10. Project Analytics
  11. Sales Analytics
  12. Service Analytics
  13. Making It Your Own Without Ruining the Foundation 
  14. Conclusions

ISBN: 9780071804141
Division: Professional
Pub Date: JUL-13
Pages: 432
Edition: 01
Format: Paperback

Happy prospective reading!
Abhinav
Bangalore, April 22, 2013




Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Oracle BI 11.1.1.7.0 and Endeca Certification

This is a very short post, and meant to clarify a point of potential confusion.

The recently released Oracle BI EE 11.1.1.7.0 release features integration with Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, both for use as a search engine and as a data source in BI Publisher.

However, this integration is for version 2.4 of Endeca Information Discovery (doc, download). Support for the recently released version 3.0 (doc, download) is planned and not yet available. 

I will post an update as and when I have more information to share.

Thank you folks,
Abhinav
Bangalore, 16 April 2013

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

BI Mobile HD App for 11.1.1.7.0 Available

An updated version of the Oracle BI Mobile HD app went live on the Apple iTunes App Store. This is an upgrade over the existing Oracle BI Mobile HD app, so users who have this app installed on their Apple iPad devices should see an update notification in their App Store app.

This update makes the app available for the recently released Oracle BI 11g 11.1.1.7.0 release - which means you can connect this app to an Oracle BI server running the latest version.


Happy analyzing.
Abhinav,
Bangalore, April 9, 2013

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

OBIEE 11.1.1.7.0 Available

The latest release of Oracle Business Intelligence, 11g (11.1.1.7.0) is now available for download from the Oracle Technology Network (OTN). This is a significant release of Oracle BI and has enhancements across the stack.
A few of the more than 200 enhancements are:
  • New visualizations, including the Performance Tile, Waterfall graph, 100 Percent Stacked Bar graph
  • A new Visualizations Suggestion Engine
  • Breadcrumbs for contextual awareness and navigation.
  • Templates support for printing Dashboards
  • Ability to freeze headers when navigating long tables or pivots
  • Hadoop integration in the BI Server, which can now connect to Apache Hadoop data sources, fire off Hive QL queries across federated data sources.
  • Use a new, faceted user interface to search for your web catalog content. Directly launch content with the search criteria passed through as filters/prompts from the search results.
  • A model checker to flag off possible errors or warnings in your model. Can also be invoked via the command line, which makes it easy to automate.
  • Improved document genration performance in BI Publisher
  • A new report wizard in BI Publisher
  • Layout editor enhancements and extensions in BI Publisher
  • Support for local CSV and XML data sources in BI Publisher
  • Create private JDBC connections in BI Publisher
  • A new Smart View add-in with support for the BI Presentation catalog
  • Embed dashboards, with support for dashboard prompts, and analyses using the Smart View add-in
  • Create new analyses using Smart View and save them in your Excel workbook or back to the Presentation Catalog
  • Use BI Publisher to directly report against Presentation Catalog subject areas without having to create data models beforehand
  • Export dashboards to BI Publisher - the data models, layout, (supported) views and formats are carried over.
  • Performance improvements in the Scorecard and Strategy product.
  • Improved dashboard prompt support for Scorecards
  • And much much more...
A few links are in order now.
Over the coming days and weeks there will be a ton of information put out on this release on the Oracle.com site, and disseminated via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other channels.

Happy downloading and thank you.
Abhinav
Bangalore, April 2, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

BI Mobile App Update

An update to the Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile HD app went live on the Apple iTunes App Store. This is the 11.1.1.6.9.1526 version of the app, and if you already have the Oracle BI Mobile HD app installed on your iPad device, you would have been notified via the App Store app (kind of redundant isn't it - calling it the "app" store "app"?) of the available upgrade.

As far as updates go, this version basically brings in bug and stability fixes, along with two minor enhancements. First, you can now change between landscape and portrait orientation when viewing content, and second, you can now send content as PDF attachments via email.






A new option on the "Settings" screen - "Display" - has been added to let users control how attachments should be displayed when sending them via email - "as Links", "as Attachments", or "as Inline". The "as Links" option basically means no attachment is included with the email, and only links to the content are included in the body of the email. The "as Attachments" option, when selected, adds a sub-option to the "Settings" screen, named "Format", which lets you select whether format of the attachments should be "PDF" or "HTML". The third option - "as Inline" - embeds the content inside the body of the email as rich HTML.


That's all folks.
Abhinav
Bangalore, Mar 26, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

OBIEE 11.1.1.6.9 Bundle Patch - 2

The latest bundle patch for Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11.1.1.6.0, 11.1.1.6.9, released a few days back.
Here are some more details on the patch and how to get it from the My Oracle Support site.
First, you can read Document 1536004.1 that provides details on this bundle patch as well as the the constituent patches of this bundle patch:
  1. Patch 16287811 (1 of 7) Oracle Business Intelligence Installer. (generic)
  2. Patch 16287778 (2 of 7) Oracle Real Time Decisions. (generic)
  3. Patch 16237960 (3 of 7) Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher. (generic) 
  4. Patch 16287840 (4 of 7) Oracle Business Intelligence ADF Components. (generic)
  5. Patch 16287854 (5 of 7) Enterprise Performance Management Components Installed from BI Installer 11.1.1.6.x. (port-specific)
  6. Patch 16227549 (6 of 7) Oracle Business Intelligence. (port-specific)
  7. Patch 16287884 (7 of 7) Oracle Business Intelligence Platform Client Installers and MapViewer (generic)
Second, do read the readme file associated with this bundle patch that provides the installation instructions for applying these patches.

Third, this is a cumulative patch, and therefore includes all the fixes included in the 11.1.1.6.2, 11.1.1.6.4, 11.1.1.6.5, 11.1.1.6.6, 11.1.1.6.7 and 11.1.1.6.8 patch sets of the 11.1.1.6.0 release.

Thank you.
Abhinav,
Bangalore, March 18, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

OBIEE 11.1.1.6.9 Bundle Patch released

Over the weekend our sustaining engineering team announced the availability of the latest bundle patch for OBIEE 11g - 11.1.1.6.9

I will post more details in a day or so.

A note on bundle patches: They are recommended because these are a collection of critical bug fixes for a product or specific products. These patches can sometimes also contain minor enhancements as well as security updates. These patches undergo a rigorous set of tests before they are released for consumption by customers. Furthermore, these bundle patches are cumulative in nature, which means a bundle patch contains the contents of previous bundle patches that have been released. 

Take care folks.
Abhinav,
Mar 11, 2013, Bangalore

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

OBIEE Bundle Patch 11.1.1.5.5 Available

Bundle Patch 11.1.1.5.5 for Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, also known as 11.1.1.5.0 BP5, is now available for download from Oracle Support.

The easiest way to locate this bundle patch on Oracle Support is to search under the "Patches & Updates" tab with the id 15887317 - because that is the id of this patch.
21 bug fixes have been delivered in this bundle patch. Since bundle patches are cumulative, it also contains bug fixes from the earlier updates, including 11.1.1.5.0PS111.1.1.5.0BP2, 11.1.1.5.0BP3, and 11.1.1.5.0BP4

Furthermore, this bundle patch is available for the following eight platforms:
  • Microsoft Windows (32-bit) 
  • Microsoft Windows x64 (64-bit) 
  • Linux x86 (32-bit) 
  • Linux x86-64 (64-bit) 
  • Oracle Solaris on SPARC (64-bit) 
  • Oracle Solaris on x86-64 (64-bit) 
  • IBM AIX PPC (64-bit) 
  • HPUX- IA (64-bit) 


Why are bundle patches recommended? They are recommended because these are a collection of critical bug fixes for a product or specific products. These patches can sometimes also contain minor enhancements as well as security updates. These patches undergo a rigorous set of tests before they are released for consumption by customers. Furthermore, these bundle patches are cumulative in nature, which means a bundle patch contains the contents of previous bundle patches that have been released. Therefore, to take a simple example, if you are on version 11.1.1.5.0, you do not have to install any of the bundle patches that have released since, and can apply bundle patch 11.1.1.5.5, secure in the knowledge that this bundle patch contains all the updates that went into bundle patch 11.1.1.5.4, which in turn contained all the fixes that went into bundle patch 11.1.1.5.3, and so on and so forth.

As always, you should carefully go over the documentation accompanying the bundle patch and come to a considered decision on applying the patch.

Thank you.
Abhinav,
30 Jan, 2013
Bangalore

Free Big Data Workshop

It's a one-day workshop. It's on Big Data. It's free. What more could you want?
Ah yes, some details. You will find them on Keith Laker's blog post, Data Warehousing and Big Data from an Oracle Perspective: OTN Developer Day - Free Oracle Big Data Workshop

The bare bones about the Big Data workshop are:
When: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Where:  Oracle's HQ in Redwood Shores, California
How Much: Free.
Ok, seriously, how much? It's Free
What will you learn: As much as you want to.
What will be taught:

  • Write MapReduce on Oracle’s Big Data Platform
  • Manage a Big Data environment
  • Access Oracle NoSQL Database
  • Manage Oracle NoSQL DB Cluster
  • Use data from a Hadoop Cluster with Oracle
  • Develop analytics on big data
Anything more? Yes, check Keith Laker's blog post for more.

Happy second last day of Jan, 2013
Abhinav,
Banglaore

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Enterprise Analytics Book - Review


I was somewhat excited and was looking forward to reading this book, given that it firstly is on my area of work at Oracle - enterprise analytics, secondly because it covers an important, growing, and still nebulous area of both the technology and business of Big Data, and thirdly, because the author is a very well-respected authority on the field and who shot to wider fame with his now famous 2007 article in the Harvard Business Review, "Competing on Analytics". With this preamble, I submit to you, my review of the book, "Enterprise Analytics: Optimize Performance, Process, and Decisions Through Big Data (FT Press Operations Management)", Thomas H. Davenport, et al.

"Lectures, Meanders, Pontificates, But Does Not Educate"
(AmazonMy Amazon review, Kindle US, Amazon UK, Kindle UK, Flipkart)
Or, how a book on Big Data, Enterprise Analytics, and technology can neatly skirt any meaningful discussion of Big Data, Enterprise Analytics, and technology.

While a few chapters stand out for their reasoning and clarity, what is jarringly absent from this book is any meaningful, technical discussion about Big Data itself. Without such a discussion, most of the book's content can be recycled with minimum effort ten years from now and applied to the next big thing in technology. Even assuming that this book is targeted at decision makers and so-called C-level executives, an absence of the nuances and complexities of Big Data mean that executives will be as clueless on that dimension of Big Data knowledge after reading the book as before. If you are responsible for selling sausages, you had jolly well get a look at the sausage factory, if not work there a day.

Big Data, Unstructured Data, the Cloud - if these three buzzwords were not enough, you can add the salsa-ish phrase SoLoMo - i.e. Social, Local, and Mobile, to the mix. Businesses, consultants, enterprises, anyone who is anything in technology wants to know more about what this buzzword alphabet soup is, and how to make sense of it before their competitor does, or worse - a disruptor.

The hope is that if the decision makers, the corner-room occupiers can understand this, they will be better able to drive a coherent process and structure within their organizations to take advantage and benefit. Hence this book.

The book is a collection of eighteen chapters, divided into five parts - the first is an "Overview", "Application", "Technologies", "Human Side", and "Case Studies" of Analytics. Each chapter is written by a different author, with a total of fourteen authors in the fray. A few chapters have been written by the editor himself, Thomas Davenport, and these are among the standout chapters - for their clarity and organization.

Since I work in the technology of analytics, I should be excused for either taking too technical a view of things, or for being too harsh in my criticisms. Having said that, there are at least quibbles that in my opinion leave this book only a middling, mediocre effort, and not one that will be remembered or consulted, much, if at all.

- The close and financial collaboration of at least a few technology vendors with the International Institute of Analytics means that most of the specific examples cited in this book are where the technology vendor's solution was used. Fair enough, but it leaves an aftertaste of an advertorial in the reader's mind.

- When discussing web analytics, there is a lot of ink devoted to the topic of "page views". Page Views are still relevant, but they are becoming increasingly obsolete in the world of AJAX - where parts of a page and its contents can be updated without having to reload the entire page. Web analytics metrics operate at the least granular level of pages, and hence cannot capture a significant chunk of user interactions and engagement that occur on pages and sites that make heavy use of such asynchronous page content refreshes (AJAX does stand for "Asynchronous JavaScript and XML", and no - it does not contain the buzzword "Agile"). More sophisticated measures of user engagement are being built that track more than simple page views. When the chapter's author fixates on page-views without once mentioning the inaccuracies of measurement that AJAX can inject, the credibility of the chapter suffers.

- The chapter on "NBOs", i.e. "Next Best Offers" takes several cheap shots at Amazon (see page 90), which left me wondering whether Amazon had not turned down six-figure consulting offers from either of the authors to warrant this broadside.

- There is a laboured chapter on "engagement" - an attempt to define a compound measure based on essentially a summation of basically arbitrary weighted base measures. For instance, a measure of online engagement is a summation of eight different indices. Putting a "sigma" symbol in the equation makes it look impressive, but in the end it is more arbitrary than methodical. Because decision makers need to have information supplied to them in a simple manner, it is often supplied to them in a simplistic manner, cloaked in technical-sounding phrases.

- Privacy is becoming an increasingly sensitive and relevant issue as more data is collected from customers and users, often without their knowledge, and sometimes without their consent, almost always without providing users a clear picture of what is done with that user-data so collected. Privacy is an important topic in this discussion on enterprise analytics. And it is given short shrift in the book. After a cursory nod, almost as an afterthought, to privacy concerns, there are examples cited that are almost creepy in the extent they suggest the invasion of a user's privacy. Sample these: "The next generation of video game offers could have pictures of your friends or your tastes and interests built right in." Or "A company called Sense Networks has developed an application to help infer a person's lifestyle based on his or her location history." Harvesting a user's location and web-click information should require explicit opt-in - it is basic respect for human decency. Take the section where the authors talk about collecting data by anonymizing data. It has been proven that even after anonymizing data, it is possible to individually identify users with a very high degree of accuracy based on only a few attributes. There is no such thing as truly anonymous user-tracking on the web. Only if you use "unsophisticated marketing techniques" do you risk customer ire over harvesting their "spending habits", which they consider "inviolate". Get it? Be sophisticated, and you can get away with pillaging your customers' privacy. Is this really the new normal - customer privacy shmrivacy?

- Then there is this most curious statement that states - "Despite all the hype around the unstructured data component of "big data", it seems that structured data still rules the in predictive analytics." Well, yes! Unstructured data is fairly recent, especially when compared with structured data, that has been around for literally decades. It is but natural that the use of unstructured data in predictive analytics will take time to gain traction, especially as the technology and means of blending structured and unstructured data evolve.

- Even the chapter, "Predictive Analytics in the Cloud" contains phrases that make absolutely no sense, other than to bump up the chapter's jargon-index. Sample this: "These cloud-based solutions inject predictive analytics into other software that is cloud-based or delivered as SaaS." Is a specific example too much to ask? "inject" is an impressive-sounding word, especially if you have heard of the phrase "sql-injection" in the context of hacking attacks, but just what does the word "inject" mean in the context of predictive analytics and the cloud? And why does this injection require the cloud? Can it not be done with more traditional, hosted solutions? And what exactly are "cloud-based dashboards"??? Is any dashboard served via a browser "cloud-based"?

I could go on an on, but a short summary of the book would be this: each chapter suggests and promises value, but falls short.

In a good mood, as always.
Yours, Abhinav
Jan 15, 2013
Bangalore, India

[Originally posted on my personal blog, at blog.abhinavagarwal.net]

Kindle Excerpt:

 

Friday, January 04, 2013

BIWA Summit 2013

The Oracle Business Intelligence Warehousing and Analytics Summit (aka the BIWA Summit) is taking place at the Sofitel Hotel in Redwood City in California next week, from the 8th - 10th Jan, 2013. You can register here.

This promises to be a fruitful and informative conference, and not only do you get six tracks to choose from, but also an impressive array of speakers, as well as a combination of presentations and hands-on labs.

For instance, the keynote speakers are Vaishnavi Sashikanth, Vice President of Development for Advanced Analytics at Oracle (speaking on "Making Big Data Analytics Accessible"), Tom Kyte, Senior Technical Architect at Oracle (speaking on "What's new from Oracle in BI and Data Warehousing"), Balaji Yelamanchili, Senior Vice President for Business Analytics and Web Center at Oracle (speaking on "Fast and Furious: A Sneak Peak into the Future of Oracle BI"), Mark Rittman, ACE Director, Author, Technical Director Rittman Mead, and Ari David Kaplan, leading authority in sports analytics (speaking on "Sports Analytics in Action"). Use the Keynotes link to view more information about these keynotes and to also add these to your calendar.

The focus areas are a mix of the established, like "Business Intelligence and Visualization", "Data Warehousing and Data Integration", "Spatial Technologies", and also new and upcoming areas like "BigData", and "Advanced Analytics". Add to this Hands-on Labs where you can get to try out well-designed exercises to guide you, step-by-step, through the product and technology, and it should be a must-attend for people interested in the intersection of existing analytics and upcoming technologies. And you will get to meet and talk with the product experts from Oracle, including technologists, leaders, developers, and product managers, who will be as excited to meet with you.

Learn. Enjoy.
Abhinav,
Jan 04, 2013
Bangalore.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

TimesTen and Exalytics - Additional Features

Did you know that Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database is available in four different licensing options, of which one is "Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database for Exalytics"? Well, I think you knew that it is available with Oracle Exalytics, but were not sure that it is available in three other licensing options. In any case, what is interesting here is that the TimesTen In-Memory Database for Exalytics "license includes all features available under the Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database license", but also has two additional features:
  • In-Memory Columnar Compression
  • OLAP Grouping Operators: Cube, Grouping Set, Rollup
From the short but useful paper, "Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database Licensing Information", published December, 2012.

Read more about Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine, Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database,

And, best wishes to all for a happy 2013.

Take care.
Abhinav
Jan 03, 2012
Bangalore