The Boulder BI Brain Trust


September 2008 Archives

InfoNOW Aims at Channel Data Management

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InfoNOW logo.pngInfoNow, a Denver company, sorted through their offerings and future plans. Keith Knowles, VP Marketing, and Joe Zurawski, VP Business Development, presented their story. Their focus was on ChannelInsight, their SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) offering connecting distribution network of thousands of 'trading partners' with 'product vendors'. See us in action!

Starting in 1990 as an asset location service to find the nearest ATM. Rode the Dot-Com bubble. Declined and broaden their solution offerings. Currently they are doing over $10M annual revenue with a hundred employees. Customers include hi-tech companies like Seagate, AMD, APC, Lexmark, HP, Polycom, Targus, and Samsung.

What is a channel? That is the key concept behind InfoNow's value proposition. In the chart below, the up-stream parties manufacture goods and distribute through their down-stream channels. In other words, InfoNow is focusing on demand chain management, primarily for Business-to-Business transactions.
InfoNOW chart 1.jpgMy insight came when I realized the complexity of managing a typical demand chain. The decision dimensions explode across number of distributors, layers of distributors, multiple identities per customer, data formats via various data links, and so on.

InfoNow breaks their services into the following five stages.
InfoNOW chart 3.jpgWe went through a series of slides elaborating on each stage. It is amazing the complexity in B-to-B transactions and amazing the potential business value of specific analytics of each stage. Pricing is also complex and is based upon services provided at each stage.

The thought that stuck me is that generic BI tools are/will fade into infrastructure. The growth potential is to apply specific analytics that are smart about specific business processes. Many IT professionals are clueless about the details of what happens in hidden clerical operations that fill the gaps in generic applications. As I mentioned in another blog, SaaS folks like InfoNow are not providing software but best practices in tough business processes.

LyzaSoft - Empowering the Analyst

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LyzaSoft is a compelling tool for an Analyst.  Placing the power to source data, visually transform it, and analyze it squarely in the hands of the analytical user.  Several user profiles were identified ranging from business analysts to more technical problem solvers.  LyzaSoft is a powerful tool for these users - and unlike the often free-form toolsets of the rogue analyst, it actually provides for traceability (as in auditable, repeatable, etc.). 

To be clear, I want this tool on my desktop.  With that being said, I think it is important to discuss the inevitable disclaimers.  Not anything to do with the tool itself, but rather concerning the deployment of this tool in your organization.  As we have heard perhaps too many times - with great power comes great responsibility.  Since LyzaSoft can exist outside of your enterprise data warehousing team and outside of your IT operations, the inherent risks relate to centralized controls, QA, data governance, and other procedural components that aim to assure consistent information exchange.  LyzaSoft is much less of a culprit in this arena (given the innate traceability) but the risks are not entirely alleviated.  And in fact, it will be difficult to manage the intersection of this tool with your enterprise metadata or your MDM initiatives.  These concerns however do nothing to sway me from my first point - I want this tool on my desktop.

So how do we balance our Analysts need for speed (and autonomy, control, flexibility, etc.) with the organizational need for standardization, controls, consistent data exchange and an enterprise view of data?  After all, we don’t want to take a step backwards and end up in the board room yet again with numbers that don’t match.  I submit that the answer is in how we incorporate this tool into the organization.  Analysts can, and should, be empowered to get their jobs done - and LyzaSoft will fit nicely in their tool bag.  But perhaps the product of this tool should be solely for the Analysts own consumption and, in general, not published or distributed to the broader pool of business users.  That is of course, as long as I am one of the Analysts that has the tool…

LyzaSoft Bridges Enterprise Analytics with Desktop

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LyzaSoft briefed the BBBT on an all-in-one analysis tool for the desktop. Present were Scott Davis, founder and CEO, Brain Krasovec, founder and VP of Product Mgt, Melissa Risteff, CMO, and Scott Humphrey, PR.Lyza logo.jpg

The tool is positioned as a bridge between traditional BI analytics as managed by IT versus personal desktop analytics as unmanaged. To avoid this analysis chaos, their focus is described as "step-by-step layered simplicity for traceability". The tool binds the data with its metadata so that the analyses retains their lineage from data sources through filters, transforms, and joins to the presented tables and charts.

LyzaSoft is launching on September 22 and will be priced at $899 per year. A 10-day trial is available for download.
lyza.jpgGartner calls the space Discovery Based Analytics, the gap between IT intensive Business Intelligence and Office Productivity where fast query performance, compelling front end and unfettered data integration needs to happen. Scott Davis CEO of Lyza sees this gap as a fantastic opportunity with a $1B market potential. The product is aimed directly at the Analyst community. Analysts have needs around experimenting with discovery, are often frustrated by centralized data bottlenecks and are often forced to use an array of disconnected collection, analysis and presentation solutions. Lyza wants to address all these needs and challenges.

Lyza is serving the analysts with an all-in-one data analysis tool for the desktop that will talk to heterogeneous data, visual data transformation and an automated presentation layer. The demo we got to watch today did an excellent job illustrating the well thought out features of the Lyza solution. Its highly graphical and very wysiwyg oriented.

lyza allinone.jpgThe company will officially launch on September 22nd 2008 but is already working with 100+ users in Beta. A great quote from one of them is below.

“I recently received a write out of a log that monitors the size of every file
system in the client’s environment. Although it was only 40MB, it contained
nearly 400,000 rows. I was able to quickly and easily drag the log into the
Lyza desktop and was immediately able to view, scroll and browse the file,
as well as perform the necessary data analysis required for the proposal—
all in a matter of minutes. And if the client wants me to analyze another
month's worth of data, I can simply drop it into my workflow that I built in
Lyza. I am sold on the product and confident Lyza will continue to be an
invaluable tool in the highly competitive storage market that I work in.”

- Chris Thomas, Senior Account Technical Consultant at EMC

Tags: Lyza Software, Scott Davis, Analyitics, Business Intelligence



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