BI Conference in Seattle

Conclusion (Interpretation of Steve Ballmer)

  1. Dead serious about Business Intelligence
  2. Democratize Business Intelligence – BI to the masses
  3. Prized for this approach.
  4. Both internally using it and externally.

This was a very brief summary of Steve Ballmer’s keynote at the conference 11th of May. (His speech starts 3:30 into the video)

The story.

Back home with jetlag. It has been a great week in Seattle with a good show from Microsoft, trying to convince 2800(?) delegates from all around the world.

Arriving 8th of May late in the afternoon to Seattle with warm and welcoming spring weather after a nine hour flight from Copenhagen, finding my way to the impressive ‘Washington State Convention & Trade Center‘ and grabbing my badge just before they closed the reception desk.

First day of the conference was started by a keynote from Jeff Raikes, who stressed on the message ‘BI for the masses’. This means trust on data, ease of use, scorecards and the prizing of MS products. Availability of ‘Office PerformancePoint Server’ in late summer 2007 and the release of ‘Katmai’, next version of SQL Server in 2008. (24-36 months will be the normal frequency of releases of new versions of SQL Server). Then there was a keynote of Michael Tracy, who has found that the secret behind growth for companies was the company’s ability to get acceptance for the strategy and getting the strategy executed. One very important way of achieving this was to use BI to get acceptance for the strategy in the corporation so everybody strived to fulfill and prioritize in their daily work. The successful companies never believe in one strategy to fulfill their aspiration of growth, they have 30-40 different approaches each giving 1-2%. He also stated that fact based decision-making beats experience 8 times of 10, and that BI gives fundamentally new ways of running a successful company, when used as a democratic tool. After that we all split up, I visited a presentation of a new add in for Excel to simplify data mining by means of SQL Server. It was impressive. I then visited a presentation by Ron Tolido of Capgemini NL, who spoke of the need for more current data in BI to make it useful for the masses and he also meant SAP has a horrible user interface… I also managed to find the worst presentation of the conference and it almost made me totally ignorant to the PerformancePoint Server (CAL will cost $195). As not native in English it is very hard to understand people from India trying to speak English. Day ended with a nice dinner sponsored by MS Denmark.

Second day was started by Ted Kummert, who spent the first three minutes with telling us about his fantastic career at Microsoft, I mean who cares? He is responsible for SQL Server and talked about Katmai and said ‘We have been listening’. He also mentioned the acquisition of Softartist to create Excel and Word reports directly at the server, and that it would probably ship with Katmai. Bob Kaplan, the father of Business Scorecard was the next speaker. His main mission was to execute strategy you need scorecards. The GAP between Vision – Strategy –What people do (WIIIFM – What is in it for me). Executing a strategy is not a project it is a process. It was for me followed by a new lesson about PerformancePoint which could be summarized by MAP (Monitor, Analyze and Plan). Monitor means scorecards, dashboards, drilldowns – Analyze means Proclarity for its display functions – Paln which is the new part meant for planning and forecasting, all displayed with a WEB-part interface and Sharepoint philosophy. Might be something worth considering? Cost ( $20k/server and $195/cal). Most delegates spent a nice evening at Experience Music Project conceived by Paul Allen for his passion to Jimmy Hendrix. Soon the bars went out of Heineken in the bar, which was good for me the next morning.

Third day started at 9 am with keynote of Steve Ballmer whose points are in the conclusion. After that I listened to war stories by Claudia Imhoff, a person with a lot of insight in how to implement BI effectively in practice.

Business Intelligence – Microsoft

MS claims that they have been into BI for ten years with their acquisition of what later was to be called Analysis Server. It was also ten years ago when pivot table first arrived in Excel. I have been working with the BI offering from MS since start, since they always have had another approach to the concept, i.e. the democratic and fairly prized, or bottom up approach if you prefer. With the investments in Excel 2007 in integrating it much better with Aanlysis Server and with a totally other focus, they have at least convinced me that they at least has gotten serious.


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