CeBIT Exibitor Datawatch (stand O09) operates under an entirely different paradigm compared to traditional decision support solutions. They believe that in most cases all of the information required to make business decisions is available in existing reports and business documents.
Scott Noble from Datawatch Asia Pacific told us that their technology allows:
“Our tens of thousands of customers worldwide to leverage the investments they’ve already made in reports from ERP, CRM and other applications, including BI systems and data warehouses, into high performance analytic information at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional approaches”.
“It never ceases to amaze me how many people deeply involved in Business Intelligence still don’t get the connection between Report Analytics and BI. For a Datawatch Solution Architect, it is difficult to understand why any BI solution would not include RA; it’s like building a car and not bothering with a windshield (just wear sunglasses, you’ll be fine).”
“The issue here seems to boil back to the underlying belief that reports are output, not input. That they are not real data sources, and there is no way to impose on them the level integrity required for business data”.
“The first part of this phenomenon stems from convention. BI systems generate the reports that convey meaningful information to the business staff. Consuming reports to achieve the very same goal is simply overlooked; it’s a solution hidden in plain sight”.
“Fact is reports are often the only source of the data for critical business intelligence. The majority of 3rd party data is received in report form. Quite often internal data is also received by autonomous business units only in the form of reports. Even when a database is accessible, an application driven report can be the most cost effective method of extracting data as such reports require little or no development”.
“Pragmatically, if you want that 200 page mobile phone invoice integrated with your expense or accounts system, you have to deal with a PDF as a data source. Same goes for the General Ledger from that company you bought last year still using MYOB”.
“The next part comes from perception that reports are ‘soft’ data sources. Report data can’t be validated the way we have been taught must be done for our BI solutions and its acquisition cannot be controlled. Therefore including it in the data warehouse is too risky. This is circular, the reason you have to use the report is because you can’t get to the data source but you want the data source before you’ll use the report.”
“Meanwhile staff are copying and pasting out of PDF and text files, manually integrating data in order to generate business critical decision tools or worse, actual business product. The reality is that reports are already valid. 3rd party reports have been generated and delivered as the source of truth for transmission. Even missing data points from transmission error are critical data themselves!”
“In the case of application driven reports, the reports are snapshots of the authoritative source that are, by their nature, closer to the truth than any transformed data. As many times as I have lost this particular argument I have also gained the concession that properly analysed report data is a light year ahead of any copy pasta. Report Analytic converts have realised the risk of not embracing reports as data far outweighs their objections.”
“Compounding this dilemma is the thought of imposing the kind of order commensurate to BI on all those reports flowing through any given business. Because reports are assumed to be output, they are not received or handled in a manner conducive to use as a data source. Reports usually arrive via multiple paths within separate processes managed by multiple people. This represents an intolerable governance problem when compared to the handling around traditional, database sourced data.”
“That’s why Monarch Enterprise Server was invented, so the business users can have their cake and IT can eat it too. Introduction of the archiving and data retrieval capabilities of M ES will rein in all the electronic paper. Existing processes may use the reports with the added benefit of historical access, aggregated views, filtering, sorting, calculated and transformed fields”.
“Meanwhile, the underlying Monarch Data Pump ETL engine is busily funnelling the data into the data warehouse and drawing data down to augment the business’s view of the reports. All of which is done in a secure, automated and monitored backend process with DOD level audit compliance. Implemented properly, M ES could replace the existing processes with one touch access to the results of all the manual effort that used to occur; and present it in a dashboard”.
“Report Analytics may be relatively new but reports have always been both input and output. Report data is already being used for Business Intelligence; by every staff member that opens and reads a report. That’s why Datawatch is exhibiting in Business Intelligence section at CeBIT. The choices for the BI strategist are whether including that data should be done in a controlled fashion or allow each individual to overlay it on the results of a BI system in whatever fashion they may devise. I like my sunglasses, they make me look good and they are very comfortable, but I still want a windshield on my car”.