Google Trends for Business Intelligence Today

Interesting find between traidtional giants, open source competitors and innovative new generation BI:

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Clearly shows, Qlikview is gaining steady momentum, Pentaho is also gaining popularity, steady decline for traditional powerhouses…

Impact of Business Modeling on Data Warehouse Success

Business Modeling to Process Management professionals may mean something different, but in data management, business models are the logical data structures which capture the meaningful events in context. Here the context refers to dimensions, measures and their specific usage. Data Warehousing activities should be agile, thats the evolving zeitgeist which concepts like DW2.0 (Inmon), Agile BI and Self-Service demand. The fundamental problem with Data warehouse development is catering to change, agility and still serving a diverse user base.

BI processes and tools like Qlikview, Spotfire, Tableau with in-memory, associative models, alternative to OLAP provide the agility but the backbone of the organizational data warehouses are still locked into fixed, rigid and less scalable subject areas.

The impact of conducting Business Modeling sessions with the Business users prior to BI is effective on many fronts:

1. Business Exceptions are captured early.

One of the trick questions in requirements gathering for data warehouses is to extract the exceptions in business rules, processes, events from business users. This phase is an ‘art’ and only few can get a good knack of exposing as many business exceptions early in the design process. The problem with realizing business exceptions late result in architectures with patchy workarounds and fixes which reduce the overall muscle of the data warehouse building.

2. The Essence of Business Processes necessary for Data Warehousing is preserved.

At times, business modeling invoke the discussions among business users who rather than portraying the as-is states, often pertain to discussions and debates on what ought ‘to-be’ states and thus the BI consultant captures the overall strategy and goals of the business process under scrutiny. This info leads him/her to design solutions which adhere to the general gist and thus can manage both as-is and to-be with little modifications or further effort. Decent data warehouse scalability can be achieved.

3. A common language for communication is established between business and IT/BI.

Often times BI consultants & DW Architects force Business Users into understanding the business data model using the underlying database data models with naming conventions, physical layouts and dimensional modeling technicalities which overwhelm the business user. Business Users love when IT talks their language and IT appreciates removing ambiguity and vagueness by using a common lingua franca.

4. Greater sandboxing capabilities

Faster iteration cycles for prototype warehouse models can be reached which will allow for faster convergence to the desired data model(s). Easily an end to end prototype including subject area development, followed by BI can be experienced often revealing obstacles before going for the time consuming and complete implementation.

5. Setting expectations becomes more accurate.

Business Users through sandboxing and through modeling see the highlights of things to come and therefore right sizing is achieved.

6. An initial scope for BI is understood.

Business modeling will reveal to the BI Consultant(s) the major pain points of the business users and having seen the business models with its exceptions and all facets, a rough time estimate can be set and/or a rough activity and project (or phase) scope can be identified.

7. The A-Team is on-board.

By bringing a wide array of people from end users, power users, quality assurance officers, BI consultants and data architects, a company can easily identify the A-Team from the business modeling activity. This A-Team will carry the momentum to execute the project and in the longer run participate in the BICC.

8. Nip the Evil in the Bud, Data Quality and Governance issues start surfacing

Although they seem to be a distraction and are separate programs themselves, Data Governance (and Quality) has to be addressed as early in the Data warehouse design phase as possible since the design elements can be either considerate of cleansing or assume that to be cleansed when it comes to the warehouse. Secondly, Data Quality fixes later in the value chain, (worst case, front end reporting) will cause greater deviations from standards and design and a solution based more on patches and work around.

9. Greater Transparency in design and architectural choices is observed.

Due to Business Modeling, the organization can better track down on individual decisions which underwent while designing micro elements in the design process. Usually data warehouse implementations which don’t start this way, eventually end up with a long audit trail of documentations and ‘memos’ which are hard to capture and even harder to manage.

10. Overall project implementation times in principle, reduce.

Since the initial challenges are dealt upfront or are atleast discussed upfront, the overall project implementation times reduce. Lesser time is required to do exception management, lesser time is required in debating design choices and communication, and lesser number of surprises (in principle) have to be dealt with.

All in all, it is vital to involve the business users in the design process using business modeling approaches. There are several business modeling tools available in the market which assist in the process but at the end of the day, its the process of conducting such sessions that bear fruit.

Qlikview Section Access – Some Thoughts

Security, in BI…Is that a misnomer? I usually prefer the term Privacy instead…

Nevertheless, whatever term you use for the two processes, you still have to cater to authentication and authorization to see specific data.

QlikView, going enteprise, now has quite a mature security framework to comply with various standards including SOX, HIPAA, ISO either directly or through partners like NOAD.

This means that any company which needs to certify on these standards can be rest assured that QlikView follows compliance friendly and open standards for both authentication and authorization of data as well.

However, for those coming from other data security (privacy) frameworks, like that of traditional BI or ERP environments will find some familiarities in the patterns followed but also some differences.

The security patterns and How-To’s are very well documented by QlikView, one of the good documents can be found here..

Here, I’d like to highlight on the unusual way QlikView implements one of its security models, the Section Access. Of course, there are other ways to implement security which resemble traditional approaches using the QlikView Publisher but here I’d like to focus on a quite powerful security mechanism built within an app, called Section Access which serves a number of use cases for security implementations.

Section Access is a part of the load script which basically maps a list of groups/users with authorized fields/conditions and explicitly denied fields/conditions. As a causal phenomenon, using Section Access also ends up with Data Reduction, i.e. splitting up (and reduction) of data based on defined users with their granted and denied authorizations.

Some Problems:

1 – I hear people concerned about certain drawbacks or unexpected behavior with Section Access. First of all, there is a risk that a developer can lock him/herself out of the application if not being careful. Well, yes, there should be a failsafe mechanism to warn the user of doing so beforehand but then again, the idea behind Section Access is a self-securing, self-controlling Qlikview App, independent of a centralized environment responsible for data security (privacy), in a truly disconnected, democratic analysis (btw, still retaining single version of the truth) approach. The solution, use the document versioning built in feature in Qlikview 10

and roll back to previous versions of the app if this mishap takes place. Or, simply, take a backup of an app before implementing security (privacy) to it.

2 – Some people pointed out that it is quite insecure to define the security matrix (actually the data authorization matrix) within the script. Although samples and demos are pulling in the security matrix using INLINE data loads, in reality, the idea is to have data locked in a data store with authorization only to

Qlikview script to read it, and that the script be placed within a ‘Hidden’ script tab to avoid developers to get overtly curious or just accidentally curious.  The location of the actual data store can also be concealed by loading it in the Hidden script area. Of course, I am not asserting that it is totally failsafe either…

The idea behind section access for me is to add security (privacy) for disconnected analysis which is usually the norm of a few within an organization as compared to the bulk of the users who prefer the more vanilla cake ready implementations and work within corporate infrastructure to work with Qlikview applications. This can be handled by the more systematic and productive QlikView Publisher.

Bottom Line:

You have two types of security (privacy) mechanisms, the Qlikview Publisher, which is more enterprise friendly, centralized and more IT driven while the other is a unique feature which maintains the security context in disconnected analysis mode as well and also provides a self-defining, self-controlling DAR (or MAD) application.

Related Links:


Installing Ubuntu Unity on Toshiba NB200

Ok, its an exciting, liberating time. Nokia’s Maemo along with Intel brings MeeGo; JoliCloud rises as an alternative to Chrome OS infact even earlier than the much anticipated cloud OS from Google. Samsung relaases Galaxy Tab while JooJoo faced demise. Apple’s iPad sales continue to carry out and Ubuntu makes some radical strategic directions for its very popular linux distro.

Unity is the new shell for GNOME and I find it pretty decent for my netbook. I wanted a faster OS for my Toshiba NB200 but not at the loss of functionality. After trying out EasyPeasy and Jolicloud, I decided to give Ubuntu Unity a real try. (They are good but too restricted, kinda dumbing down my netbook…)

First the installaiton..

Created a USB boot installer using.

5 Minutes later, booted the device from the USB, ran Ubuntu LiveCD and chose to try Ubuntu. While trying, I decided to install Ubuntu and clicked on the associated link. A really kool feature about linux is that you can install the OS while running the LiveCD in parallel, that I did.

But to my surprise, it took exceedingly long time to install. After nearly 2 hours, setup finishes and reboots.


Got the notorious INITRAMFS ALERT! /dev/sdb1 (for you it could be different) not found.

Tried many things out:

  1. Edited the GRUB entry and changed the /dev/sdb1 to its associated UUID (of course had to run LiveCD again to get access to this installation).

  2. Changed the rootdelay just incase but didnt budge

  3. Ran LiveCD again, mounted my instance to the current file system and did this:


sudo mount mkdir /mnt/newroot

sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/newroot

sudo mount –bind /proc /mnt/newroot/proc

sudo mount –bind /sys /mnt/newroot/sys

sudo mount –bind /dev /mnt/newroot/dev

and then..

sudo chroot /mnt/newroot /bin/bash

I needed the /bin/bash since I was chrooting from LiveCD

I restarted but still no Ubuntu. Finally, checked my BIOS SATA entry. It was set to AHCI, had to change it to RAID but in Toshiba shipped BIOS, there is either AHCI or Compatability mode which didnt work for me.

Final solution:

Applied Step 3. Then,

edited /etc/initramfs-tools/modules

added the entries:





saved the file and ran:

sudo update-initramfs -u -k all

(since I have only one kernel, thats why -k all, otherwise choose this option wisely)

Then everything worked fine and I started writing this blog.

Ofcourse I also installed additional packages, and stuff. Unity is kool for my netbook.

Hope you enjoy it too!

PS: Don’t Listen to people complaining about bugs, surprises and different ways to do things, change is inevitable and Ubuntu Unity 10.10 is a pretty decent start for bigger, better things to come! Me Thinks…

Re-Structure, Re-engineer Not. Recycle!

I had been getting constant reminders this week to attend a very important meeting arranged by the shareholders of my company. The entire board and staff were invited to attend. Today, amongst all the hype of the meeting, I inquired about the agenda from the office administrator. He doesn’t converse much in english and said the company is going through recycling!

Yep, you’ve heard it, and are probably thinking it as well, he actually meant ‘restructuring’. However, coming to think of it, business should be actually recycling rather than restructuring or re-engineering.

Recycle in webster is defined as:

to pass again through a series of changes or treatments: as

  1. To process (as liquid body waste, glass, or cans) in order to regain material for human use
  2. Recover
  3. To reuse or make (a substance) available for reuse for biological activities through natural processes of biochemical degradation or modification
  4. To adapt to a new use : alter

On the other hand, Change Management is defined as:

“Change management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. It is an organizational process aimed at empowering employees to accept and embrace changes in their current business environment. ” – Wikipedia.

The overly painful and agonizing transition to this desired state with many a casualty, uncertain future, distration from focus, and a sense of panic which has haunted change management initiatives across the world simply misses the important mottos:

  • “To Regain”,
  • “To Adapt”,
  • “Recover”.

Thats the essence of Recycling! Well ofcourse to some degree, Adaptation is implied in Re-Engineering (Process Re-Engineering) activities, it is the explicit nature of subconcious ‘allegations’ that ‘as-is’ is below the required mantle while ‘to-be’ is in all its might, superior than the ‘as-is’, Thats why people in the middle of it despise change. Coming to think of it, the term recycling comes much closer to the point than restructuring for any possitive change management.

The goal for any organization to employ any change management initiative should to be

  1. To conserve its morale (or improve it), as it is the fundamental energy,
  2. To reuse this energy and materials, thats the lessons learned, the knowledge and the ‘what works’ in an organization using its existing people
  3. And finally it is to ‘Recover’ whats lost…, corporate focus! (The enthusiasim and drive which was once set long ago in entreprenueral utopia.)

Go Green, dont restructure or re-engineer but recycle your business!

LBDN – The Look Busy Do Nothing Attitude

We all go to work, 9-5, 8-6 or in some cases 9 to “as long as the boss is around”. Whatever!

We all apparently sweat in the efforts, commitments are made, and lets face it, besides the couple of genuine losers around, everybody really likes to do well for himself/herself or for his/her

company. Its an achievement motivated, hope oriented and energy creating concept we all have to embrace to make ends meet.

Nevertheless, not all companies and not all people achieve success or accomplish many goals. Besides general bad luck, stiff competition, inappropriate environment yadda yadda is what I call the LBDN factor.

Look Busy – Do Nothing, its an attitude….voluntary and involuntary.

We have many faces of LBDN:

1. Lets Do Meetings Folks:

Whether you admit it or not, meetings are actually one of the factors for underachievement for many teams which are result oriented and are usually on strict deadlines.

Too many people, or rather too many nonparticipative people fight their way for a divine time slot which provides the ultimate meetings with all faces present.

However, there is no direct relationship between decisions being reached and number of meetings or even better, better decisions being made to number of meetings. Decision Theory puts a lot of emphasis on analysis prior to meetings and having the right tools and information in the hands of a properly defined decision maker to produce better decisions.

Value chains are more important than organizational hierarchies and meetings are usually overwhelmed by the latter.

2. Lets Arrange Appointments:
This is a common problem with teams like Sales and Pre-Sales, without really having a sense of the situation, people fall in the trap in executing a strictly predefined process from sales generation to sales closure. This is common in many industries where typically the products are services sold require advanced skill sets and niche focus. Here the Sales or Pre-Sales tend to disfranchise themselves from the actual products and services and invest their efforts in the process only.

Sales team meets potential client, potential client out of courtesy says “good presentation”, sales team is overjoyed, creates unnecessary hype, CRM systems are updated, and a chain of meetings,

presentations, demos, POCs and followups proceed before finally realizing the deal wasn’t there, the client was least interested in real economic terms.

Sometimes you have to hold your ear from the other hand to bring business!

3. Lets Take Printouts:
Ah, one of the most conventional LBDN activities, the guy who parades around the corporate printer for his documents, gets the stapler in hand to save some seconds once the printouts are ready, scratches his head, appears extremely concerned about the ink quantity and puts a very serious face. Makes the rest of the employees passing by realize how important his/her printouts are!

This person usually has a very cluttered desk,the person is difficult to grab for an appointment and has a mysterious awe about him/her.

C’mon seriously, who are you kidding?

4. The RWA guy/gal (Voluntary):

RWA is what I call, “Responsibility Without Authority”. Although this subject is pretty vast in itself, just a quick reference to it that it can be both Voluntary or involuntary. Many organizations fall in the trap of giving away responsibilities to employees for decision making but fail to provide them the necessary authority to execute and drive their responsibilities. This happens usually in orgs. where there is no clearly defined separation of roles, or orgs with a highly bureaucratic org. charts without defined KRAs (Key Result Areas).

The RWA guy/gal – voluntary is one who actually does not really understand what he is doing in the team or company. He/She does not have a clearly defined KRA and his management at times seek activities not under his job description. This person seeks out to take initiatives on his/her own without any visibility or recognition or even authority to do so. The initiatives are usually misaligned with the corporate strategies or are totally redundant. The person does not realize that all the efforst he/she is putting is going to waste since its a dead end, yes folks a DEAD END!

5. “You Know what Happened” Gossips:

Its good to develop good healthy relationships between coworkers but what really happens at coffee corners or around the water dispenser are company gossips. Really, Grow up People and get back to work! It distracts people from their own work/relationships with the company, distracts focus, create false impressions about others and breaks teams apart. Here is where Geeks reign supreme, they hardly do people talk, most of the time, gossips is related to whats hot and whats not in the market, or discussion a really cool solution to a very difficult problem.

There are many forms of LBDN, the idea is to diagnose the symptoms asap. Think about the Agile Manifesto, flat organizational structures, and office collaboration software/social networking to be more pragmatic, proactive and productive.

Enjoy work, work less, get better work results!

How to fix 3G and Phone issues in Mobily for HTC Devices

While using certain HTC devices over Mobily (Saudi Arabia), users are not able to send or receive phone calls or SMS when using 3G. They usually receive Missed Call Notifications only.

Phone calls and SMS work only when 3G is turned off. This is because of two reasons. Mobily does not automatically set the baud rate of the device. And secondly, most HTC devices like the Kaiser come with 3.6 HSDPA which Mobily doesn’t recognize.

In order to use both Telephony and 3G data services simultaneously, do the following:

1. Under Advanced Phone Settings, Disable both HSDPA and HSUPA. Goto tab: CSD LineType, choose Data Rate 38400 bps (1.10) or later, connection element: Non_Transparent.

2. Under Phone Settings, Goto tab: Band, Choose Network WCDMA, and select Band for GSM/UMTS: UMTS (2100) + GSM(900+1800).

You should be able to enjoy 3G on HTC devices using Mobily.