9 ways Pentaho and BizCubed helps avoid “Common BI Mistakes”

We saw recently saw this article “9 Common BI Software Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)” from Jennifer Lonoff Schiff at ComputerWorld.com.  As we reviewed the common mistakes, we felt that the Pentaho analytics platform addresses them all pretty well.  So we compiled this article that lists the mistakes and how Pentaho and BizCubed services helps you avoid the pitfalls and where we currently falls short.

BI Mistake No. 1: Not defining the business problem(s) you are trying to solve. Learn with BizCubed Online Training

This is not really a “BI Software” mistake, though we find that clients believe that a BI solution will solve their operational and business problems without actually understanding the business issues that are actually facing their business.  The thing we hear is “if I only had the data, I could run my business better”.  While this may be true for specific business problems, unless you focus on the specific problems, an analytics project will drown in the available data.  

The way we help organisations accomplish this is through our risk free POC program.  This program includes consultation with our senior advisors to ensure there is a focused outcome that the POC is built to – without this focused outcome we won’t do the program.

BI Mistake No. 2: Not getting buy-in from end users

Again this isn’t a BI mistake – this is a mistake we typically call the “If you build it they will come” fallacy.  Again our POC program helps organisations with this issue by making the platform available with no limits.  This allows our customers to try before they buy.  Additionally, because the Pentaho platform isn’t licensed on a “per user” basis (the community edition is free and the enterprise edition isn’t licensed that way), there aren’t artificial barriers to end user buy-in for the organisation.

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BI Mistake No. 3: Not factoring in security or legal requirements.

We’re now sounding like a broken record because this is also not a “BI Software” mistake.  However, people do expect that BI solutions will solve a lot of their problems for them.  We think this is particularly true because the typical pricing models of the larger BI software platforms are so large that organisations expect that it will solve all of their problems.

Pentaho helps in this area by being very cost effective (some analyses show that it is 10-20% of larger platforms when implemented at scale).  This means that there is budget available to focus on some of these areas – instead of spending it all on the software – there is budget room to put together a team that can solve these issues.

Additionally, Pentaho has the technical and architectural capabilities to secure the platform at the content level, the functional level and the data level (row and column).

BI Mistake No. 4: Being dazzled by features and forgetting about legacy systems and integration.

This is where the Pentaho platform really shines because of its second to none Pentaho Data Integration platform (that comes with the platform – no more to buy).  Pentaho has all of the dazzling features too (see some of the screenshots below), but the PDI layer allows it to talk to all of your legacy platforms, all of your current databases, and if you’re already (or planning on) doing things in the big data space the platform connects to that too!

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BI Mistake No. 5: Not choosing a solution that can scale and adapt.

There are three main areas in analytics where an analytics platform will need to scale and adapt;  the data, the visualisation and predictive layer.  Pentaho’s open source heritage and completely pluggable platform means that it can scale and adapt at each tier.  On the data layer, it is completely data source agnostic (switching between databases is a configuration change – not a rewrite); so as new and better data sources evolve – the organisation has the option to pick and choose without changing the overall architecture.  On the visualisation layer, there are many plugins, built by Pentaho itself, Webdetails, Meterorite BI, Ivy Systems and many more that allow you to implement any visualisation you need, whether it is the cutting edge visual capabilities from D3.js or the more standard visualisations (bar, pie, line, scatter) or anything in between, it is all available on the platform.  Finally, the Pentaho platform supports all the major predictives – like SAS, R, Weka, and if you have PMML models you can use them too!

BI Mistake No. 6: Not factoring in the mobile workforce.

Pentaho has a native HTML5 ipad app as well as significant capabilities in responsive design with CTools and Bootstrap (thanks Webdetails and Ivy Systems respectively).

BizCubed currently has a free proof of concept offer, where to help you evaluate Pentaho, we’d like to offer you one of our experts for two days. Our expert will work along side you, loading your data, making sense of it and building some impressive dashboards. This work will give you first hand experience with the tools, their power and how quickly you can deliver outcomes.

We will also provide a secure hosted environment – alternatively, we will get you things set up internally. This will provided to you free of risk and at no cost.

BI Mistake No. 7: Rushing implementation. Boost Juice Bars

This is one that we believe is done because of the very large up front investments organisations typically make.  As a result of this investment there is significant pressure to show results quickly.  This pressure often results in poor delivery decisions and slows adoption and can fundamentally derail a project.

We have a client – Boost Juice – that rolled out the Pentaho analytics platform out to 300+ front line users.  The main project build was completed in 4 months (useful components were delivered during the 2nd week), but the organisation chose to refine the rollout to the front-line franchisees for an additional 6 months in order to be sure that jt was just right.  They had this implementation flexibility because the implementation wasn’t a huge investment – they could afford to be patient.

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BI Mistake No. 8: Insufficient training woman drawing on whiteboard

We have an implementation methodology that we call “Train While Doing”.  This implementation technique is designed to ensure that our clients can run, manage and maintain their implementation after we have rolled it out.  This also ensures that the client is heavily involved in the implementation decisions and technical challenges that occur in every project.  Finally, this means that there is a team of people internally at the organisation that can drive the system and train others within the organisation to drive it as well.  This team typically is multi-functional and includes people that are both highly technical and very business focused – so we can be sure the implementation meets the needs of the business.

BI Mistake No. 9: Not leveraging intelligence (collected data) and reporting

The nice thing about the Pentaho platform is that the components that track the usage of the platform are implemented using the standard Pentaho platform tools.  The BI platform is completely URL addressable, which makes sharing and integrating information easy and seamless.
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