Making Business Intelligence Work for You

This is an article from Actuate about business intelligence. You should check out their product which includes BIRT.

Companies large and small can benefit from a well thought out business intelligence (URL: http://www.actuate.com/products/busines … igence.asp) strategy, but developing that strategy can sometimes be more challenging than implementing a business intelligence program. To make sure that your company is getting the most out of your BI program, make sure that you define your goals and have a plan for the information you generate before you start collecting and analyzing data.

First Steps

Assess your current system of data collection. How you collect your data will make a difference in how complete your information is, which will in turn affect the results of your business intelligence program. Make sure that if you need historical data on your company or customers that you know where it is and how to access it. You?ll also need to take some time to understand your business needs and make a rough road map for how you would like your business to transform. Focus your attention on a few operational objective that can be achieved both short and long term.

Planning Your Strategy

Start with your vision of where you would like your company to be in 3 to 5 years. Pick specific goals that can be achieved with the assistance of a good business intelligence program. These goals should have measurable success rates or key performance indicators. You will use your key performance indicators (KPIs) as milestones for how close you are to accomplishing your goals. You can then set up your information infrastructure to collect the necessary data that can be analyzed and turned into information, which can be used to make effective decisions for your company.
In order to pick the most worthwhile goals, you must understand what the desired end result is. You will have to ask yourself what you will do with the business intelligence information your program generates once you have it. Otherwise, you will have a vast amount of information and no way to strategize around it. In companies without a comprehensive long-term plan, decision makers react to the information they get from their data without understanding the far-reaching consequences of their actions.

Another important thing to think about before you implement your program is what your options are once you have the information. Often companies have an idea of how they want to move forward and are looking to the business intelligence information generated by their BI program to support their current strategy. They soon learn that the information is not always in line with their current plan. Brainstorm all possible outcomes of your business intelligence program and think of ways that your company can improve based on the different results. You probably won?t be able to come up with every single possibility, but you will be prepared to think creatively when your BI program starts to generate useful information.

Lastly, remember why you are implementing this program. Business intelligence can be a huge asset to your business, but if you focus on the data and not on what the data can do for your company, your energy is misplaced. Before you become overwhelmed with data warehousing and data integration initiatives, take a step back and refocus on your company?s goals.

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AD301 and AD304 session times!

Hope to see you there. 🙂

Introducing the Composite Application Container Framework

Tuesday, 01/20/2009 3:00pm – 4:00pm Swan 5-6

The new container framework in Lotus Notes 8.5 enables the creation of new components right within the Composite Application Editor. Create new components based on Web browser applications, Lotus Notes views, spreadsheets (Symphony and Excel), host on demand, and much more. This session will dive deep in to the new technology and terminology, and show how to integrate Lotus Notes data with Symphony with basic spreadsheet and formula language skills. Some other key areas coverend in this presentation are side shelf integration, Live Text integration, and component creation with no WSDL!

Best Practices for Component Development

Thursday 01/22/2009 10:00am – 11:00am Swan 3-4

Composite applications allow assemblers to arrange components on the UI and enable them to communicate via property broker. This works well, but the process can be greatly simplified by following a set of best practices. Leveraging the new features in Lotus Notes 8.5, you'll learn the best practices for creating NSF, Eclipse SWT, Native and Web Browser Application components. You'll learn how to leverage the new container framework for designer your own custom component containers.

Protecting your plugin imports in Notes 8

A very common problem I see in Eclipse, Lotus Expeditor, and Lotus Notes is the installation of multiple org.apache.XXXX packages (more than one plugin exporting the same package). Eclipse will attempt to resolve your import as best it can but in short it just guesses and there is no control which one it will pick unless you specify a package version – I believe the default is last installed wins – not really sure. This can be very difficult to debug – and usually stuff just “stops working”.

The problem is the Apache packages can vary greatly depending how the third party has structured their plugins. So a best practice is to not install new org.apache packages and use the ones that ship with Expeditor and Notes.

If you are referencing these packages you can protect your applications by specifying the version of the packages in your import statement. For instance, the core property broker plugin imports the org.apache.axis plugins like this:

org.apache.axis;version=”1.4.0″;platform=xpd,

Notice we state to use the version “1.4.0” and from the platform “xpd”? This will insure our plugin uses only the org.apache.axis plugin with that exact version in the xpd platform.

So your code can also depend on specific org.apache packages. Most of the org.apache.axis.XXXX packages have version “1.4.0”.

Here is a list of the versions for commonly used packages in the latest Notes 8.5:

org.apache.axis.utils;version=”1.4.0″;
org.apache.axis.message;version=”1.4.0″;
org.apache.commons.logging;version=”1.0.4″;
org.apache.commons.httpclient;version=”3.0.0″;
org.apache.commons.codec;version=”1.3.0″;

For any other versions you can always open the jar files for the plugins and inspect the manifest.mf. You can also get at this information from the OSGI console.

osgi> bundle org.apache.axis

Remember, this is not the plugin version but the package version exported by the plugin. For instance, here is some of the org.apache.axis plugins export statement:

Export-Package: com.ibm.wsdl;version=”1.4.0″;platform=xpd,com.ibm.wsdl.extensions;version=”1.4.0″;platform=xpd,com.ibm.wsdl.extensions.http ;version=”1.4.0″;platform=xpd,com.ibm.wsdl.extensions.mime;version=”1.4.0″;platform=xpd,com.ibm.wsdl.extensions.schema;version=”1.4.0″;platform=xpd,com.ibm.wsdl.extensions.soap;version=”1.4.0″;platform=xpd…..

Lotus Expeditor Wiki is launched

For all of those developers that are in plug-in heaven with the Notes client, this is the place for you. You can see all of the API's, JavaDoc's and features the Lotus Expeditor platform brings to the table.

Click here for the wiki.

I also added a static link to the left on my navigation bar.

Lotus Expeditor 6.2 is announced

Ok, I am three days late. Been busy. :-~

Lots of new cool stuff, check it out.

IBM Lotus Expeditor is a managed framework for integrating new and existing applications together to help optimize business processes

Link to site.

Building composite applications with Notes widgets in IBM Lotus Notes 8.0.1

Liu Jun and Hardy Groeger published a great article when I was on vacation. If you are interested in Widgets and Comp Apps this is a great primer.

This article introduces the concept and usage of Notes? My Widgets. Through several examples, it shows you how to create Notes widgets from different kinds of resources in IBM? Lotus? Notes? 8.0.1. Finally, it depicts the process that you can use to build a sample composite application leveraging Notes widgets.

Building composite applications with Notes widgets in IBM Lotus Notes 8.0.1

Sharepoint integration with Notes 8

Not sure if anyone is aware of Mainsoft's side-bar component for Sharepoint integration in Notes 8. Many have asked for this functionality and its great that Mainsoft has a solution in this space.

Mainsoft SharePoint Integrator delivers a unified messaging and collaboration platform, without having to migrate Notes to SharePoint and Exchange.

You can also watch a pretty good video demo here.