Bad BI Form

If you read Stephen Few’s work on BI Dashboards and visualization, you’ll recall that he says charts that rely on people to compare areas are not well suited to humans as we have trouble making the comparison.  Circles are especially bad, and forget about fancy donut (circles with a hole) shaped charts.

BI charts bad

This image is a perfect example of that.  Can you really compare the big circle with the others, or even the others to each other?  See how easy it is in the vertical bar comparison?  Keep this in mind when dealing with comparisons using area based visuals.

 

 

 

HR Analytics at Wells Fargo – Project that won KPI Partners the Specialized Partner of the Year Award for BI and EPM

I’m very pleased to announce that the project I bled and sweated over for nearly a whole year has won KPI Partners the coveted Oracle Excellence Award for North American Specialized Partner of the Year in BI & EPM (formerly know as the Titan Award).

OEA_13_Web-Badge_SPOTY_NA_321

I led the KPI Partners team implementing HR Analytics from a PeopleSoft system for Wells Fargo, the worlds largest bank by Market Capitalization, with 300,000 employees and contractors.  This is the largest footprint of HR Analytics in the world to date, both in terms of data volume and their ultimate # users planned- all 40,000 managers in the company!

Although the project was a difficult challenge, we were able to implement a BI solution the way I believe it should be implemented.  A few key highlights below.  For more information, please see the presentation HR Analytics at Wells Fargo from this year’s Oracle Open World, or KPI’s own page on the award.

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2 Presentations @ Oracle Open World next week

I have two speaking slots next week at OOW in San Francisco – If you are there come by and see me – I don’t want to bring my suit up there for nothing!

The first one is the preso I’ve been giving this year on the Performance Layer for the BI Apps and custom solutions.  Its part of an all day set of OBI sessions hosted by ODTUG on Sunday.  My slot for UGF001 is at 2:20pm in Moscone West – Room 2007.  It’s targeted towards architects but also managers who are looking for performance improvement options.

The second one is a new one, a case study for the world’s largest HR Analytics implementation I did a while back at Wells Fargo.  There are a few key take-aways from the session, but in general its geared for customers considering purchasing and implementing HR Analytics.  There is a sweet extra item about this project I cannot reveal this week, but rest assured it’ll be in the preso!  The slot for CON5792 unfortunately is about the worst one possible – Thursday at 3:30 pm, Moscone South Room #302.  I hope people haven’t left SF by then…

 

Jeff M.

The Single Most Important Thing to Know About the OBI RPD

Over my OBI career I’ve had to review dozens of customer and consultant developed RPDs as part of either a formalized health check engagement or simply a developer code review.  Frequently the customer has some problems that they can’t solve, or that they have solved with a work-around of some sorts.  In some cases this is simply due to not fully understanding the concepts and what you can do with those concepts, but sometimes there is something far worse at play: bad advice from supposed experts.

Twice this year I have come across customers who have been told by other “experts” that Dimensional Hierarchies aren’t that important or they should leave the Content tab empty.  One of these so called experts was even an actual Oracle employee!  This is disastrous advice as I will demonstrate in this post.

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BI Apps / Performance Layer Preso

This is my presentation from last week’s Rittman-Mead BI Forum in Atlanta.  Incidentally it happens to be the same topic (similar slides) to the KPI Partners webinar from April and what I gave in Denver at Collaborate also in April.  The webinar has been recorded, so you can hear my commentary and the QA session afterwards.  If you get the chance, I’ll be doing the same preso at Kscope in New Orelans next month.  Enjoy!

2013_24_04_PerformanceTuningOraclesBIApplications

KPI Partners Blog

I wanted to mention my company KPI Partners’ blog site at www.kpipartners.com/blog.  Several of my collegues post articles there on a variety of topics in their expertise, plus its used as a vehicle for announcing a heavy does of webinars.  In fact, I’m giving my BI Apps Performance Layer talk on Wed April 24th.

Please stop by and check it out, or even better yet – subscribe.

Jeff M.

 

 

OBI’s Nested Aggregation > Ralph Kimball

Ok so I put a provocative title on this post for a reason.  This post will explore why some of Kimball’s concepts may be out dated when newer query generation or database capabilities are taken into account.  Specifically, I’m going to discuss the OBI concept of Nested Aggregation, also known as Dimension Based Aggregation, in detail.  Using this OBI Modeling technique you can relax a bit on one of the Kimball Dimensional Modeling rules.  I’ll show how it works in a simplified manner, plus identify some things to be careful with and how it does not alleviate you from doing real modeling work. Read the rest of this entry

Testing Presentation from the 2013 BIWA Summit

I thought I’d post my presentation on QA (testing) that I delivered this week at the BIWA Summit near Oracle HQ in California. The preso is based off of the recent QA posts I did, with a bit more silly graphics on top of it.  The one take away from the preso is that some people prefer the term testing as opposed to QA.  Good to know.  Anyway, enjoy!

KPI Run Your QA Cycles More Effectively

BTW, the event focused heavily on the future of BI and Data Warehousing.  Essentially, whatever we are doing now is going to radically change to include many new types of data from different places and sources, plus what kinds of analysis we do will also be greatly enhanced.  OBI is layering on top of a whole plethora of Oracle’s Analytical technologies, including: Essbase, EPM, HCM, OLAP, RTD,  Endeca and R.  The OBI server or UI will have hooks into just about everything you can think of, making some advanced capabilities available to dashboard users.  We’ll see how it actually plays out, but in the future some pretty heavy stuff will be available in the dashboard.

Next up is a presentation on Performance Tuning the BI Apps which I’ll be delivering at KScope in June in New Orleans and Collaborate in April in Denver.

 

Presenting QA at the BIWA Summit this week

I’ll be presenting at the Oracle BIWA Summit on Thursday of this week in Redwood Shores CA near Oracle HQ.  I’ll be discussing boring old QA.  The presentation is based on the articles I recently did below on QA.  Not sure how this will go over as this preso is less technical than a lot of the other content.  However, in my opinion it is very useful stuff to know – everyone needs to go through a QA cycle, right?

Anyway, stop by and bug me if you like.

 

Keep It Simple Stupid

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently working on performance tuning projects.  Sometimes the BI apps are slow, sometimes it’s custom, sometimes it’s a mix.  I’ve gotten the chance to see what works in both Oracle and SQL Server.

My conclusion about both of these databases is that they are like a cat or dog that gets fooled when you play hide the ball; they aren’t very smart sometimes.  The only way you can really truly ensure database engines, even modern advanced ones, do things the right way to is to make it as simple and easy for them to understand as possible.  I guess this is nothing new; the KISS principle comes from Kelly Johnson of The Lockheed Skunk Works, the guys who created the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane.  I think he knew a few things about complexity in systems and how they tend to break or become difficult to maintain.  (BTW more on that topic as it pertains to OBI and the BI Apps at a later date.)

As I’ve been looking at performance tuning many reports and queries over these days, I find that a lot of time is spent trying to get the database to do the smart thing.  Too much time in fact.  Usually this is due to some small piece of non-simple SQL that causes the problem.  In more unusual cases I’ve seen something on one table completely break down the query plan, even something that should be trivial and very innocuous.

<Vent>For example, not being able to use an index on a table with 2,000 records should not radically alter the query plan, but in fact it will do that on you.  After you spend hours upon hours with it, after you’ve called up the DBA for help to dig into the extreme nitty-gritty details of the query plan, you make a change it works for that one query but not any others.  Then you decide to write this article because you’ve spend 10 hours on something so minuscule that in the end doesn’t even work consistently.  If only the query had been clean to begin with…</Vent>

In this brief article I’m just going to lay out a few things to consider to help make you system simpler for the database engine to understand and therefore do a better, faster job in answering a query.

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