Monday, October 24, 2011

Webinar: a Complete BI Publishing Solution

Webinar: Execute tightly controlled document production, publishing and distribution workflows with APOS Publisher.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 10 a.m. / 4 p.m. EDT.

If your SAP BusinessObjects deployment is well managed, it presents a single, consistent view of your corporate data, regardless of the number of datasources it joins. If this is the case, then your BI platform should also be your primary publishing platform for enterprise information.

But using your BI platform in this way may require you to overcome some major challenges, including:
  • The growing volume, variety and complexity of enterprise document publishing
  • Migration of legacy system functions to the BI system
  • The need to monitor mission-critical processes closely, and manage proactively
  • The need for flexibility and agility to address new line-of-business requirements
APOS Publisher is an essential solution for organizations that have complex SAP BusinessObjects distribution requirements with multiple report format and destination types.

For such organizations, APOS Publisher is a complete SAP BusinessObjects publishing solution, including robust bursting management, post-processing distribution service, report package management, and assured delivery to extend SAP BusinessObjects' capabilities.

APOS Publisher achieves advanced SAP BusinessObjects publishing through:
  • An advanced bursting engine
  • Automated document production
  • Workflow monitoring, alerts and auditing
  • Interactive process control
  • Assured delivery, auto recovery, & partial burst reruns
  • Enhanced distribution, encryption & integration
Learn how APOS can help you execute tightly controlled document production, publishing and distribution workflows for your enterprise. Register for this webinar.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

APOS Well Managed BI CMM

Do you consider your BI platform well managed? How do you measure well managed? Is "well managed" something you can quantify?

The APOS BI CMM (capability maturity model) can help you come to terms with these questions and benchmark your BI deployment so you can quantify its progress toward well managed BI. The APOS BI CMM consists of three levels:
  • Curative - reactive activities, firefighting
  • Preventive - actively seeking out problems before they happen
  • Progressive - proactively seeking new opportunities to expand the use and ROI of your BI platform for the benefit of different business units
Think of your BI deployment as a pyramid divided amongst these three levels. The size of each division within the pyramid represents the proportion of your resources' time dedicated to those types of activities. While all BI deployments require each type of activity, your BI platform can be considered well managed if you progressively minimize the time your resources dedicate to curative and preventive activities and redeploy those resources to progressive activities.

The objective of well managed BI is to invert the pyramid:

The term "well managed" may be qualitative and subjective, rather than quantitative and objective, but what you can quantify is how much time your resources dedicate to their various tasks and responsibilities. By benchmarking these hours, you can chart your course toward progressive BI and judge the relative efficacy of each step you take.

To benchmark your BI maturity, look at your resources' timesheets. Make a list of the activities they report, and classify each according to whether it is curative, preventive, or progressive. (If you have a hard time with this part of the exercise, you might have to reconsider the way your resources report to you.) Record the time spent on each activity through a period of time long enough to cover your basic business cycles (e.g., monthly quarterly, annual).

As you implement well managed BI best practices and undertake progressive initiatives, you should notice a marked shift in the proportion of curative to preventive to progressive.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Escape Velocity & Well Managed BI

Geoffrey A. Moore's most recent book, Escape Velocity: Free Your Company's Future from the Pull of the Past, is primarily about how to position a company to take best advanatage of the external and internal forces that bear on its current and future value and viability. It's a good book -- one that every product manager in a high-tech company should read, but what caught my attention on first read-through was an almost off-hand reference to the leadership / management opposition:
Asymmetrical bets [sacrificing smaller short-term gains for a larger mid-term return] are the foundation for creating company power, putting in high relief the distinction between leadership and management. Managers resist asymmetrical bets for a host of good reasons: They are both inequitable and socially unpopular. They are hard for shared services organizations to support. They entail taking high-visibility (and potentially career-limiting) risks. They run roughshod over personal loyalties. They stretch the organization far beyond the limits of its comfort zone. They are departures from the norm.
Leaders acknowledge all of the above, but they still persist in making asymmetrical bets, also for a host of good reasons: They want the power to win. They are more externally than internally focused. They want to adapt the company to the market, not the other way around. They want to make a difference. They want to make sure that sacrifices -- which are inevitable in any strategy -- are made in a worthwhile cause.
Moore advocates a lead-first, manage-second philosophy. That is, you need to reference the activities inside the company against external realities and allocate your resources accordingly. The alternative is wishful thinking -- hoping that your internal priorities will somehow, magically, match up with external demand.

The leadership vs. management debate is important for BI platform management as well.

APOS delivers well managed BI, but we also promote what we call progressive BI. The most succinct way of summarizing the difference between the two is that it is essentially the difference between management and leadership.

Leadership vs. Management

Much has been written about the difference between leadership and management, and we often see the two painted as irreconcilable opposites. The world of business, with all its shades of gray, really has no place for such absolute oppositions. Leaders have to manage, and managers have to lead, but the two activities can trigger some real cognitive dissonance.

The cognitive dissonance arises mostly in relation to the idea of risk. Our management side is trained to be risk-averse. Steady as she goes; don't rock the boat; the status quo has been good to us. However, to lead, we need to embrace risk as the necessary travelling companion of opportunity, and to understand that the benefits of the status quo won't last forever.

According to Moore, management views the world from the inside out, while leadership views the world from the outside in. That is, our management side wants to fit the exterior reality to our operating plan, while our leadership side wants to mold the operating plan to fit the exterior reality.

Well Managed BI vs. Progressive BI

How does this all relate to APOS well managed BI solutions? Well, as I said earlier, the difference between well managed BI and progressive BI is the difference between management and leadership.
APOS delivers well managed BI. We do so through solutions that simplify, automate, enhance and extend the administration and management of your BI platform. We look at the practice of BI within an organization in the light of a capability maturity model, which has three levels:
  • Curative -- the level of least maturity; your technologists are primarily reacting to events, and performing labor-intensive fixes.
  • Preventive -- you have developed deep system introspection and can anticipate and act to eliminate problems and bottlenecks.
  • Progressive -- you have achieved well managed BI and are now proactive in finding new applications and ROI for your BI platform.

We do not deliver progressive BI -- that's up to you to achieve on your own initiative. But we do enable progressive BI by taking your curative and preventive worries away, and by supplying solutions that you can use to implement advanced best practices in publishing and geospatial analytics, thus improving the distribution and communication of information within your organization. We make your BI platform management easier, so you can look outside of it proactively to find opportunities that serve the larger needs of your organization.

Chances are your BI platform is relatively robust from an IT point of view, and that its architecture and infrastructure are capable of supporting new applications. When you implement APOS solutions, you give yourself the platform on which to become proactive, develop new BI applications, and increase the ROI on your BI solution.

Gravity, Inertia and Resource Allocation

The overarching metaphor of Escape Velocity is gravity. "Escape velocity" is the speed needed to break free from a gravitational field without further propulsion (Wikipedia). The pull of the past in the book's subtitle equates gravitational forces with the organization's past success. The greater the past success, the greater the inertia preventing the company from escaping the pull of the past and achieving new successes.

Moore cites Sir Isaac Newton, developer of the theory of gravity, on page 1:

Newton taught us several centuries ago in his first law of motion, the one that covers inertia, that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to continue in the direction in which it is currently moving. The same goes for resource allocation.

And so the theme is set: we need to break free from the past to embrace the future. Since budgets are expressions of priorities, it is in resource allocation that this expression will be seen.

The Journey from Well Managed BI to Progressive BI

Don't let inertia stall your journey.

Much like Moore's escape from the pull of the past, the journey from well managed BI to progressive BI is about escaping "the way we always do things around here." If your destination is progressive BI, then you need to be aware of the journey, and not just the steps. You can take care of your curative needs, but if you don't have somewhere to focus those newly liberated resources, you will simply lose them.

If you were primarily concerned with reducing headcounts, then congratulations, your job is done. You're now doing more with less.

But if your goal is to move through preventive BI to progressive BI, and to realize greater ROI from your BI deployment, you need to be proactively redeploying your resources as soon as they have escaped curative mode.