Tuesday’s TDWI Webinar was titled “Preparing Data for Analytics,” but that’s not what it was about. It was still interesting, just misnamed. The focus was, as would be expected with Liaison being the sponsor, about how managing data in the Cloud can enhance the ability of some companies to support BI.
It started with Phillip Russom, an in-house TDWI analyst talking a bit about preparing data without ever using the words extraction and transformation. The most interesting point he made was an aside in the main presentation, but one that should be brought to the fore: What’s SMB?
Most of us think of SMB as Small-to-Medium sized Businesses. His point was that it’s really Small-to-Medium sized Budgets. Many folks involved in enterprise software understand that you often don’t sell an enterprise license up front. A software vendor will sell to a department or a business division with a smaller budget that needs to get something done. Then the tactic is to expand within the enterprise to build it into a major account. Mr. Russom makes the great point that the tactics to sell into the smaller groups in an enterprise are very similar to those uses to sell to smaller businesses, so maybe there are opportunities being left on the table by smaller vendors.
His other key point needs a webinar of its own. He mentioned that companies looking for Cloud analytics should “make sure Cloud solutions are optimized for data and not for applications.” It’s the data that’s important, how you get it and how you prepare it. That’s what has to be supported first, then applications can access the data. Sadly, he said that and moved on without any real details on what that preparation means. I’d like to see more details.
The main speaker was Alice Westerfield, Sr. VP of Enterprise Sales at Liason Technologies. Her main point followed Russom’s lead in by pushing that a good analytics platform requires moving from an application centric approach to a data centric one. No surprise, Liaison has one handy. Most importantly, it’s a Cloud approach, one they’ve been offering before Cloud became the buzzword.
Alice was brief but focused on their history of supporting integration in the Cloud. The four main benefits she mentioned were:
- Data Integration
- Data Transformation
- Data Management
- Data Security
That makes sense and we all know how important the last one, security, matters before people are willing to perform the first three on the Cloud. However, it’s the changing nature of the data game that means I want to focus on the first, data integration.
While Liaison talks about the benefits of leveraging their years of integration skills rather than reinventing or needing to take new integrations and install them in an on-premises solution, there’s another Cloud aspect that I think is critical. Most businesses use a mix of applications and many are already on the Cloud. Add to that the mobile nature of today’s generation of BI solutions which are provided in the Cloud. It makes sense for many SMBs to leverage that. Why take data from Cloud apps, move them on-premises and then move them back to the Cloud? Using a service such as Liaison simplifies and speeds the process of meshing data from within and outside of the firewall and then providing wide access to knowledge workers through the new BI interfaces.
For the foreseeable future, there will continue to be reasons for keeping data within the firewall, but for most data and most companies, a solution such as Liaison’s would seem to be an opportunity to quickly integrate data and share it as broadly as required.