The Boulder BI Brain Trust


May 2009 Archives

Visible Technologies sheds Light on Consumers

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VisibleTech logo.pngVisible Technologies (VT) is a provider of online brand management solutions for the new Web 2.0 media environment, giving clients insights in consumers' attitudes and intents. Presenting their strategies and directions are Bill Baker, CTO and Blake Cahill, VP of Marketing. The focus is on social data integration with existing platforms and on the creation of the Social XML standard.

Social media is exploding...without substance? Watching the conversations surrounding your business. 75% persons engaging in social conversation. They are categorized into five types. The blogsphere has grown with steadily decreasing cycle time. Twitter has 15M. Facebook has 200M users spending 2.6 billion minutes per day. Brands are no longer in control of their destiny because social media has hijacked.

The company... VT founded in 2005 They have 83 employees
in Bellevue WA and offers products that track, measure and engage in social media conversations (TruCast) and online reputation management (TruView). Bill said, "This is BI - it's the data we always wanted. ...Twitter is the world's biggest focus group."

Demo... TruCast for a large tech firm. Showing Topic Manager. Gut tells me that this stuff is tough! Garbage-to-signal ratio is huge. Structuring this networking data into something meaningful to VT clients is a continual challenge. Slide on "Why can't you use Google?" To do it properly, need to do hundreds of searches, and content is multi-topic.

Yes, you can generate a cute dashboard. But what do you do with this information?

Engagement Manager... neat! Asks my questions about actionable. consistent message from company. can have templates to answer popular issues.
Leading to engagement with positive folks (to encourage) or negative folks (change attitudes.

VT network.pngWhere are the conversations going on? ...the ecosystem shows the connections with blog sites to individuals. Colored in green/red to indicate opinions. Can browse around, expanding branches of the network structure.

VT pipeline.pngContent pipeline... has three stages: filter/validate, categorize/enrich, shown below. Off to the left side is a traditional data warehouse that strips off the good data from the 3 stages. Bill said, "One persons spam is another person's ham!" when asked about what data to save. 

Scoring can be done automated but to do it properly, use people who are properly trained.

VT brandcloud.pngBrandCloud... neat! left=neg, right=pos, top=your-brand, bottom=competitor-brand, middle=generic-brand.

An example was
a client was about to launch a campaign, but discovered that product was not in stock. Duh... A disconnection between marketing and manufacturing. The uses for TruCast range beyond sales and marketing into product design and product life cycle.

My Take... VT is focusing on a tough problem that has potential to enable traditional companies to be smart about new social media. My primary concern was about what you do with social analytics. The discussion about engagement was very insightful. VT is doing good work and is a company that I will track.

Post-Script... That afternoon I received the June 1 issue of BusinessWeek that contained an article What's A Friend Worth? by Stephen Baker. I would recommend this article as background reading on Visible Technologies and their business focus.
VisibleTech logo.pngBill Baker, CTO and Blake Cahill, SVP Marketing are here bright and early this morning to present Visible Technologies to a packed house here at the Boulder BI Brain Trust. At its simplest Visible is a SaaS based listening tool for companies to monitor the world of social networking to watch brand and gauge sentiment towards topics. The value is how a company then forms a strategy around the ability so see this conversation. Visible has collected 230M conversations and it grows by 1M a day they are running over 13 terabytes today with dramatic growth. I write a lot about my frustration with companies like United and Sears if these companies were actually dedicated to customer service and success they would engage solutions like Visible offers to learn how we all feel about them.

The technology side of Visible is interesting from the unstructured to structured side of things. I wonder when these types of solutions will be integrated into the world of conventional business intelligence solutions. They would add a ton of value to just about any business. The Visible SaaS platform offers a great feature called a response vault allowing a company to create approved and consistent response to issues uncovered in the social world. The solution is a comprehensive suite of solutions that provide layers of tools that enable a company to effectively manage and participate in the social graph of their brand. They focus on four main areas - Listen & Learn, Analyze & Understand, Engage, Integrate as mentioned it covers all the needs around this business challenge.

The suite is user friendly, well designed and seems to offer a deep array of the tools needed to help create success around the challenge of hearing and participating in the social conversation.

Kalido's Insights into Data Governance

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kalido logo.pngKalido shares their insights into metadata, master data management, and data governance. Leading the discussion were: Bill Hewitt, president and CEO, Winston Chen, VP of Strategy and Business Development and Stephen Pace, Senior Pre-Sales Consultant.

Corporate Overview: This is a company with a long heritage as a spin-out from Shell Oil in 1985. Their approach is 'generic data modeling' which resulted in the standard ISO 10303 to define product data throughout the life cycle of a product. Currently the company has 85 enterprise customers, 275 installations in 100 countries, and 100 employees in Burlington MA and in London development center. Pricing ranges from $5,000 per month subscription to several million dollars for a global enterprise project.

Corporate Vision: Kalido have merged all their previous products into Information Engine, which includes Kalido DW and Kalido Master Data Mgt. Bill summarized their vision in this cartoon. "In future, info delivered as a service and consume in realtime."

Kalido is refocusing on data governance (DG), which they define as "high level policies and enforcement". Part of this is the Master Data Management (MDM), which is a major part of DG. Kalido provides a way for non-IT business people owe, control, and drive the IT architecture. Setting and enforcing rules and policies.

They claim that they are the only vendor that provides a fully governed BI infrastructure. It seems that the validity is based on your definition of DG. Since this is not my area of expertise, I am struggling about where the boundaries for DG are.

Go-To-Market Strategy: Points cited are:

  • industry-specific solutions in pharma, insurance, CPG
  • port to the Netezza platform
  • subscription pricing for Microsoft mid-market
  • partnership with Accenture
Solutions: Kalido offers pre-built solutions that provide 80-90% of the business requirements for a particular industry, such as Pharmaceutical, Insurance, and Sustainability Reporting. In addition, the remaining 10-20% can be customized using their extensible modeling framework.

Demonstration: Stephen rocked! Cover a lot of ground on data quality in an insurance company. By the way, the Information Modeler product is free! But the free version can not publish the model changes to the database.

Thoughts: Kalido faces a tough sell process requiring an internal champion who really understands the technical issues with enterprise data warehouse (EDW) and can effectively argue their implications to the business. Partnerships with management consulting firms like Accenture could be pivotal to Kalido's future.However, I have  no doubt that the issues that Kalido is solving with their current products are critical to the adaptability of the EDW (and the entire IT infrastructure in many ways) to the business changes in the global economy.

Postscript: Over lunch (see pic) we discuss the situations in which DG would be critical. My take-away over lunch is that DG becomes more critical and more difficult as a company diverges from traditional EDW architectures. In particular, multiple data sets that are maintain outside the data center for outsourcing services (call centers and various SaaS suppliers) require extra oversight as to data quality and other data-related SLA.

kalido logo.png

Bill Hewitt, President & CEO, Winston Chen, VP Strategy & Business Development and Stephen Pace, Sales Solutions Engineer joined us here in Boulder today to brief the "brain trust" on Kalido. Good news from them company at 100+ employees, 275+ implementations in 100 countries.

Quote from Bill Hewitt:
In the future, information will be delivered as a service, where information producers producers, information
consumers, and information managers will create, consume and distribute information in near real-time.

One of the Kalido value propositions is that they help IT and Business bridge the gap when it comes to the traditional IT driven model building. Their modeling tool does a solid job of speeding up what would otherwise be a long and arduous task. The interface makes it easier for both sides to address the governance issues, collaborate, and automate the overall process.

Its great to see that Kalido has made investments into domain specific features and expertise.  They have specialized features in place for Consumer Packaged Goods, Pharmaceutical, Insurance and Financial Services,
Manufacturing & Heavy Assets.

I've been briefed by Kalido many times and I still have to say that the best part is the demonstration of the software. I think they should lead with it and then follow up with the PowerPoint details. The biggest value that jumps out every time is how easy it is to use. The modeling tool is very easy to understand even if your a business person. You can clearly see the way it bridges the gap between the geeks and the executives.

Overall my impression of Kalido remains very positive. The core competencies include dual focus on the Data Warehouse with Governed DW and BI solutions along with Master Data Management solutions that focus on Master data and reference data governance solutions. The data modeling tool is a great cornerstone to these and really makes Kalido different from many others in the market.



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