Being in the software business, one of our most important tasks is to let our customers know about our product. One of the ways we do that is to attend various conferences around the world. For two consecutive weeks in November we will be spend a lot of time on the conference carpet, in sessions, and in our hotel rooms.
First out is the PASS Summit in Seattle. This is the Microsoft SQL Server user based conference with a lot of great topics on both traditional SQL Server and data warehousing, but probably more topics on the new architecture and the new possibilities in Azure.
We are living in exiting times with regards to data strategy, data architecture and technology.
Since we are a Microsoft partner we need to both have an opinion and a strategy with respect to Azure. It is going to be very exciting to talk to the best SQL Server people in the world about both our current product and to lift the veil on the future of Xpert BI. So, if you are going to PASS, drop by booth K4 at the launchpad area and talk to us, we might have some nice swag to give away. And I promise you will have a great data strategy or data warehouse talk and of course a demo of the best DWA tool on the marked.
While I am writing this, I am trying to come up with a topic for a ten-minute speed talk on a Norwegian conference coming up in October. I think my topic will be something like, if everyone is a data scientist, who is going to do the ETL? It is still is a mystery to me that people are skeptical of doing DWA on their ETL so that the road to the data scientist role gets shorter. I guess one of our goals on the PASS Summit is to convert some of the manual ETL developers to see that DWA can be a good thing, and not only yet another costly software we have to learn.
After we say goodbye to the space needle we fly directly to Barcelona to attend the Gartner Symposium.
The Gartner Symposium is a bit different from the PASS Summit, where the PASS Summit gather the SQL Server nerds from all over the world, the Gartner Symposium is more a C level conference. Our focus here will be to show the great benefits of investing in our software to enable not only your data warehouse but also your digitalization strategies.
Anja, our head of project implementation and co-founder of BI Builders, is going to talk about how your “old” technology can co-exist with the more “modern” ways of modelling or storing your data (Please, pay attention to the quotation marks).
BI & Analytics – What will be your Fit for Purpose solution?
Does the introduction of new technologies mean your current toolsets are obsolete, and will they be able to co-exist?
BI Builders will discuss the impact of the changing size and content of data in organizations regarding reporting, analytics and fact-based decision-making.
I am confident this is a hot topic for most of both the BI and analytic leaders and the CIO and CTO’s attending the conference.
So, as much as we hope this will be a great way to both meet new customers and partners from around the globe, we also hope we get to learn something from all the attendees and other conference partners’ as well.
It is you that make our product and our advising better by letting us learn from what you do. At the same time, we hope that we will be able to inspire the attendees into doing things smarter, cheaper and faster.
On August 10th IKT-Norge, Visma and Rambøll presented their 10th Annual report called “IT i Praksis”. It’s a survey meant to look at the maturity of practical IT use mainly in the public sector of Norway. It’s a huge report and I won’t cover all the topics here but there were a couple of things that stood out. The survey really boils down to the word digitalization. How can the public sector move faster so their users get the best digital experience possible?
This isn’t just a challenge for the public sector. It’s the same challenges if you are a retailer, a bank or really any other business where you need to connect with users in a digital way. There is one significant difference though, the ability to organize and the funding.
The Norwegian public sector consists of 426 municipalities which in a sense is 426 small to mid-size companies with their own servers, their own systems and their own technical debt. But all of them have the same service level agreement to their users. The lack of standardized systems has over time, as with many other companies in other industries, created a lot of technical debt. Most of us have an old legacy system from the eighties, and most of us have a Microsoft Access database that no one understands anymore, because the person who made it left 10 years ago.
As I said, this happens in all industries and is not only a challenge in the public sector.
But to further add to the challenge, in the public sector it is often a political decision in regards to the amount of money you can spend on IT. And as we all know, it is easy not to spend your limited resources on upgrading an old system that works if you don’t touch it.
The second challenge the public sector is experiencing is that in 2020 there will only be 370 municipals in Norway. That means that many of the municipals are going to be merged together. And when two municipals are merged, what are you going to do with that Access database and that legacy system from the eighties?
The survey talks about organization, leadership and the competence of the leaders, as well as the maturity level in regards to new technologies.
When they presented the report, they said the public sector is like a big tanker at sea. Its moves steadily towards the target, but it doesn’t go very fast, and it’s a huge ship to turn. But in all fairness, it has started its journey and it is going to go faster and faster.
One of the panel debate members was an IT director from one of the municipals in the middle part of Norway. She said their biggest challenges were that there was no standard software to use, and the lack of integration between the software that they do have.
This is our challenge as software vendors to fix, we need to build software that provides complete solutions and not help our customers to create silos.
One other thing in the debate was that one of Norway’s biggest vendors in the public sector said that this will get much better when all the systems run in the cloud. This was one of the stranger things I heard during the presentation. The cloud doesn’t fix integrations? In my experience, it does the opposite. But what is right is that the issue with standards are easier with cloud applications.
So how would the public sector go about making the tanker a bit more streamlined and easier to turn?
Well, first of all, you have to invest money in knowledge. If you want innovation you need innovative people. And you are probably stuck with the people you have, so you must invest in improving their skills. If you don’t, you’ll continue to make systems that looked shiny in the eighties.
For the public sector, you need to work closer together, you will have a lot more leverage if you combine your efforts against the software vendors. They do not want to lose you as customers, never forget that you have more power than they do. And you need to automate and work smarter in areas where that is possible.
You need to draw a data strategy with the intention of making it possible to change your legacy systems one by one. You need a data strategy that doesn’t involve lock-in with one particular vendor.
The importance of a data strategy is hard to emphasize enough. If you don’t have a data strategy you will eventually make silos with data that is hard to reuse.
Many vendors will in their sales presentation oversell the ability to integrate both to and from that system. But it is rarely that easy. And the cloud doesn’t solve any integration challenges.
So again, since I work in a company that probably makes the best self-service data preparation tool on the market, investigate how your data strategy can be implemented with the use of Xpert BI. I promise you that you will get to your goal much faster and with your solution already documented when you are done.
There are of course many challenges that is pointed out in the survey, but this was one of the clearest challenges I could see.
Hope everyone is having a great summer, and I’ll write a new post soon.