from DSSResources.com

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                        DSS News 
                   D. J. Power, Editor 
              February 1, 2004 -- Vol. 5, No. 3
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 

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         Check the interview with Jerry Wagner "DSS
       present, past, and future" at DSSResources.COM
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Featured: 
* Ask Dan! - Report from Oracle AppsWorld
* What's New? at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Releases 

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        Call for Abstracts for AMCIS2004 - New York
              check howe.stevens.edu/amcis2004/
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Ask Dan!

Report from Oracle AppsWorld or 
What is Daily Business Intelligence?
by Dan Power

On Monday, January 26, 2004, I flew from the wintry Midwest U.S. to San 
Diego to cover Oracle AppsWorld 2004 for DSSResources.COM. Oracle 
provided a complimentary pass and DSSResources.COM paid my expenses. As 
some of you know, we run DSSResources.COM on a tight budget so I stayed 
in a low cost hotel and took the short hop and "red eye" flights.

So why did I cover Oracle AppsWorld? It wasn't for the nice weather 
(although that was a plus) or the social events (I was too tired to 
attend), rather it was to find out if Oracle was serious about being a 
"player" in providing application software for building data-driven DSS. 
I wanted to answer the question "What is Oracle Daily Business 
Intelligence?"

More than 10,000 people attended AppsWorld at the San Diego Convention 
Center. Journalists (120) and Industry Analysts (400) had computer 
access and workspace on the second floor.  Even though I'm not a 
journalist trying to find news, Oracle provided me "press" status 
because DSSResources.COM publishes press releases and I write "opinion 
pieces" and analysis of the fragmented DSS Industry. I probably should 
have been classified among the Industry Analysts (many were financial 
analysts, but also some tech analysts).

Tuesday - Day 1

I arrived at the conference Tuesday morning at 7:30 am to register and 
check out the Internet capabilities.  After getting my credentials and 
checking email, I attended the morning news briefing and then the Oracle 
opening session in Hall C. Many thousands of us listened to Jeff Henley, 
the new Chairman of Oracle, and Charles Philips, the new co-President. 
Registered Oracle users can watch videos of Jeff's 10 minute welcome and 
Charles' 18 minute presentation at www.oracle.com/appsworld/online/. 
Oracle has an outstanding web resource from the conference for those who 
couldn't attend.  It's not quite the same watching video, however, so 
I'll give you my interpretation of Oracle and BI/DSS developments.

Flashing lights, music and video greeted me when I entered Hall C at 9 
am. The large display screens proclaimed "Change is constant. Can you 
adapt?", "You're as good as the data", and other marketing slogans. I 
was thinking DSS analysts and designers often passively work with the 
data in transaction systems when designing data-driven DSS rather than 
assessing the "real" decision support data needs and then figuring out 
how to gather and collect "good" data. We need "one version of the 
truth", but we also need "the whole truth and nothing but the truth"!!

Jeff Henley promised that Oracle would be even more customer-focused in 
the future. Charles Phillips spoke about the Information Quality 
Challenge. Companies have fragmented systems and fragmented data. He 
said we'll be talking this week about what we can do to solve this 
problem. "C" level executives need data to help make fact-based 
decisions. Strategies without metrics are just wishes. External 
stakeholders want more information. It's information that matters. It 
has been difficult getting data to decision makers in a timely fashion. 
I AGREE. Charles (not Chuck) explained Oracle's 3 approaches for getting 
data for decision-making: A) the E-Business suite with a unified data 
model, B) E-Business suite with integration to legacy apps, and C) a new 
data hub approach.  Phillips claimed the "Customer Data Hub" solves an 
immediate pain point. This is real-time data synchronization it is not a 
data warehouse. It is a system of record that transcends any single 
application. He cited Dell as a company using the data hub technology. 
Phillips then provided an overview of the Oracle Information 
Architecture: Grid Infrastructure, Data Hub, Business Processes, and 
Information Access. The IT management and development tools span the 
hierarchy and are engineered to work together.  Phillips claimed you get 
more value if you use more Oracle products.

Mark Lewis, Executive VP of EMC, then gave a key note. Mark discussed 
Information Life Cycle Management and network tiered storage. He 
emphasized that the "value of data changes over time" and that it is 
important to build this concept into an Information System.  Lewis was 
promoting a broad view of "active information management" that included 
structured database content, mixed content including email, and 
unstructured content. Mark was "selling" the right mix of data storage 
options. He noted the bottom line of Information Lifecycle Management is 
to save money. Lewis was promoting EMC products.

At 11 am, Charles Phillips had a press conference and I had the 
opportunity to listen to him in a much smaller room than Hall C. He 
responded to a wide variety of questions, but I specifically asked him 
about Oracle and decision support. He acknowledged that Oracle is moving 
to provide more decision support applications and praised the value of 
the new Daily Business Intelligence application. The Oracle people call 
it DBI. Phillips feels Oracle obtained an advantage because it was an 
early mover in using Java for its enterprise applications.

During the open interview session from 1-2:30 pm on Tuesday, most of the 
spokepeople and customers were focused on transaction processing systems 
(TPS).  I did have the opportunity to chat with two senior IT managers 
at Acuity Lighting Group: Jon Corliss, Manager of Business Intelligence 
Systems, and his boss, Andy Dobbs, VP for Business Information Systems.  
They briefed me on their experience with the e-Business suite and 
implementation of Daily Business Intelligence. Acuity started a phased 
roll-out of Oracle 9i database in 1999. Oracle 11i apps at Acuity 
include Financials, Manufacturing, and Payroll. Acuity had a traditional 
legacy decision support capability built using DB2 with a Visual Basic 
front end. The company is currently in a phased roll-out of Daily 
Business Intelligence. At present, a few users have access to a Human 
Resources page, 3 financial pages, 6 Supply Chain pages and 2 
procurement pages. "Page" refers to a web page with key performance 
indicators. Jon Corliss converted 2 years of historical data to work 
with DBI in 10 minutes. All of their DBI traffic goes to a dedicated 
server so the TPS apps are not impacted. An Oracle press release 
(01/27/2004) on the Acuity Brands Lighting applications is at 
DSSResources.COM. Jon agreed to help with a case study for 
DSSResources.COM and he'll keep me updated as the DBI roll-out proceeds. 
  

At about 2 pm, I went down to the Exhibit Hall and Oracle Test Drive 
area. There were more than 150 exhibitors but most were infrastructure 
players. I did chat with some BearingPoint staffers and they invited me 
to their client reception and gave me a copy of Welborn and Kasten's 
(2003) book "The Jericho Principle" on the importance of strategic 
collaboration.  Thanks! I never did however get over to THIN, "one of 
San Diego's hippest bars", on Tuesday evening to join the party.  Jet 
lag and a long day took its toll. 

I also chatted with Eric Wasowicz, President of Greenbrier & Russel 
(www.gr.com). Data warehousing, DSS and BI consulting and training are 
part of the Greenbrier & Russel mission. DecisionPoint Applications 
(dpapplications.com) had a large booth. I had heard about the company, 
visited the website and had some email correspondence with Larry 
Scheurich, a founder and Chief Technology Officer. To my pleasant 
surprise Larry was in the booth.  Larry it turns out is a "big guy", 
about 6'5".  He didn't seem too concerned about Oracle's move into 
business intelligence with DBI.  DecisionPoint focuses on decision 
support and compliance primarily for financials, but they also have 
templates for distribution, HR and manufacturing. During the next 2 days 
I returned a few times to the booth and watched a demo and chatted with 
DP marketing folks. At 4 pm I attended an RFID (Radio Frequency 
Identification) roundtable briefing. IMHO RFID is an exciting technology 
for collecting new data for enhanced decision support. Following the 
briefing, I went back to the Exhibit Hall for food, drinks, a magician, 
a clairvoyant, and the IT chatter. By 8 pm I was back at my hotel -- 
tired but glad I made the trip, and a bit overwhelmed by the noise, 
information overload and new surroundings.

Wednesday - Day 2

Early Wednesday morning I rode the trolley to the Convention Center and 
started my day with email and searching for news for DSSResources.COM.  
That's my daily routine.  You'll find four DSS-related Oracle press 
releases that were posted at DSSResources.COM during the conference. 

Wednesday for me was focused on Larry Ellison and Daily Business 
Intelligence, but Ron Wohl, EVP at Oracle spoke at 10am.  Among other 
topics, he discussed the "new style of business intelligence". Ron 
claimed Oracle has radically simplified business intelligence (BI).  
Kurt Robson, VP and Chief Architect for Applications, provided a 
demonstration of DBI. Kurt says DBI is possible because of faster, 
cheaper hardware, especially for the mid-tier in the Oracle application 
architecture. Oracle has made a major commitment to Lintel (Linux on 
Intel hardware). With DBI, Oracle is trying to help managers answer the 
"simple" questions like: "Who are our customers?" Who are our 10 largest 
customers?" "How many orders did we have last week?" "Have sales 
increased or decreased compared to last week, or last month, or last 
year?"

During the open interview session for press starting at 11:30am, I spoke 
for about 10-15 minutes with Peter Palmisano, Senior Vice President and 
Chief Information Officer, of Camp Dresser & McKee (CDM) about his 
experiences with Oracle apps.  CDM is a global engineering consulting 
firm with more than 3200 employees in more than 100 offices around the 
world. CDM uses Oracle globally for project costing, sales, financials, 
and billing. At any one time more than 4000 projects are in their 
system. Peter praised the Oracle apps CDM was using. Currently, CDM is 
not using DBI or the Balanced Scorecard.  According to Peter, senior 
managers monitor some key results metrics, but there has not been a 
perceived need for an on-line data-driven DSS like DBI. 

Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO, gave a keynote starting at 1:30 pm titled 
"Spend Less, Know More". Larry has been delivering the same message for 
more than 6 months, but he added a "customer data hub" twist to the mix. 
Oracle is in the business of selling databases, but Larry says "you all 
bought too many of them". Along came CRM promising a 360 degree view of 
customers. It seemed like the "holy grail" of business applications, but 
it was incomplete, neglecting important information.  A single database 
of customer information was needed. That's why Oracle created the 
E-Business suite. We wanted a single global data model and then 
applications were built around the single global database. This is the 
least expensive system you can run.  When Oracle itself started to move 
toward an integrated company database we had over 600 databases and data 
was fragmented. That was 599 too many systems and it cost a lot of 
money.  We were paying extra for multiple databases and we didn't know 
who our customers were. According to Larry, for many companies multiple, 
fragmented databases is still the state of the art. What can you do for 
those customers who can't implement the E-Business suite. The answer 
according to Larry is the Customer Data Hub. From my perspective, this 
claim remains to be proven. I do agree with him that "Once you've got 
all your data in one place, you can focus on the important issues -- 
data quality and business intelligence -- and begin to manage by fact, 
not by intuition."

Larry indicated he's a user of Daily Business Intelligence. It helps him 
manage Oracle. Also, he mentioned that the service database is very 
important and "interesting to me". Larry is a believer in Lintel. He 
discussed problems with bad data, especially with identifying customers. 
 Larry mentioned the data librarian tools and the increasing need for 
data librarians in companies to work with data and clean it up. 

Let me share an example of data problems from Larry's key note. Someone 
at Oracle typed in by mistake a sales order for 8 billion dollars.  
Larry said "I'm looking at my daily business intelligence. And you know 
the great thing about this is asking 'how much did we sell today?'  
Well, we sold 8 billion dollars and change.  Boy it was a good day.  
(laughter) That's a lot of software for 1 day, you know, all new 
software.  It was obviously a typo, and they reversed it out.  But the 8 
billion didn't go away, it was cataloged as an 8 billion dollar order 
and an 8 billion dollar return.  So what was our return rate ... maybe 
the single most interesting thing I discovered as we built these 
information systems is how they exposed flawed symantics in our 
underlying transactional systems.  Because, that was not an $8 billion 
order and an $8 billion return, though the transactional system 
categorized it as that. It was a typo.  It should have just vanished 
entirely.  We want to keep track of things people buy and return, that's 
interesting, but that was not something that was bought and returned.  
But, we only had one way of processing it ... we literally had to alter 
our transaction system to differentiate between typographical data entry 
errors and real purchases returns... so there is a virtuous cycle you 
get on ... but, it's a never ending quest."

After Ellison's talk I spent most of my time quizing Oracle staff in the 
Test Drive area about various apps like DBI, Balanced Scorecard and 
Corporate Performance Management (CPM).  I skipped the Customer 
Appreciation party.  

Thursday - Day 3

Again I arrived with the "early birds" and checked email.  Cliff Godwin 
gave a keynote at 10 am titled "Focusing on Information First".  Back to 
the Exhibit Hall.  I spent some more time checking the Oracle Scorecard 
app.  The "simulation" tree is a very limited model-driven financial 
analysis capability and the KPIs are primarily financial in nature. At 
12:30 I went to a presentation titled "Extending Daily Business 
Intelligence, Using Oracle Scorecard" with Jeff Kirk, the CPM product 
manager, and German Arciniegas, the principle CPM product manager.  They 
had a "fun" interactive role play that showed how a mythical company 
"Vision Corp." linked strategy to operations with Oracle Scorecard 
(BSC).

In Q&A, Jeff confirmed that Larry Ellison is a hands-on user of Daily 
Business Intelligence (DBI), but Oracle executives aren't using BSC. 
Currently, 6000 Oracle executives are using DBI. What's the problem with 
using BSC? The metrics. Oracle has development teams working on 
developing custom metrics in areas like marketing.

Well the bus to the airport was a chance to wind down after a busy 
conference.  A "red eye" flight got me back to Minneapolis and then a 
short commuter hop and I was in Waterloo/Cedar Falls. The temperature 
was minus 9 degrees fahrenheit.

Reflections

Daily Business Intelligence shows that Oracle is committed to increasing 
its decision support footprint.  Other data-driven DSS apps are coming 
along or being improved.  Using DBI involves a major cultural change and 
companies will be most successful with DBI in an Oracle DB environment.  
The Customer Data Hub creates some opportunities to maintain a diverse 
environment, but then you need to do more customization of KPIs.  The 
DBI and BSC screen designs have been updated and improved compared to 
the Executive Information Systems (EIS) of the past.  The web apps have 
color coding, drill down, hyperlinks and pull down menus that should be 
easy for managers to use and understand. The cost of widely deploying 
DBI/BSC should be much less than costs with prior EIS that relied on 
lots of staff work.

And the cons, KPIs are tied to the Oracle apps that a company has 
purchased. The hard part with DBI/BSC is linking company specific 
metrics to data. Most managers won't be able to customize their own 
BSC/DBI screens despite claims that they can. Oracle has a 3 day class 
so people can learn to use BSC. I haven't taken it, but I doubt it will 
be adequate so IT staff can learn the ropes so that they can really 
customize with the tools. Oracle needs to do more to create a powerful 
and easy to use data-driven DSS generator.

Should 3rd party Business Intelligence vendors like Business Objects, 
Cognos and MicroStrategy be concerned by Oracle's new BI apps.  YES.

PS: I spoke with Nigel Church of Hewlett-Parkard about HP and BI. HP 
servers power many data warehouses.  HP has the top slot in the Winter 
Corp. survey with France Telecom's 30TB database.  

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What's New? at DSSResources.COM

01/30/2004 Posted interview with Jerry Wagner "DSS past, present and 
future". Check the interviews page.

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DSS News - January 19, 2004 to January 30, 2004
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

01/30/2004 PEMA expands web-based incident reporting system for homeland 
security. 

01/29/2004 Oracle's applications architect, Cliff Godwin, shares 
integration details. 

01/29/2004 Mindjet announces MindManager X5 Pro Release 5.1. 

01/29/2004 MicroStrategy wins prestigious Intelligent Enterprise 
magazine award. 

01/28/2004 Oracle provides companies with single source of customer 
truth. 

01/27/2004 Microsoft SQL Server 2000 reporting services is available 
today. 

01/27/2004 Acuity Brands improves operational decision making with 
Oracle(r) Daily Business Intelligence. 

01/27/2004 Oracle unveils RFID capabilities for warehouse management. 

01/27/2004 Pennsylvania Department of Health integrates Cognos into 
Disease Surveillance System. 

01/26/2004 Microsoft Business Solutions continues to innovate in support 
of emerging needs across businesses' supply chain. 

01/26/2004 MILA, Inc. implements BusinessObjects Enterprise 6; business 
intelligence solution helps one of the top U.S. wholesale mortgage 
lenders improve enterprise performance.

01/23/2004 Foundation for the grid: Oracle on Linux. 

01/23/2004 U.S. Air Force awards Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman team 
$472 million contract for transformational communications program. 

01/22/2004 Oracle announces keynote series and sponsors for Oracle(R) 
AppsWorld.

01/22/2004 NetSuite adds advanced business intelligence and analytics to 
real-time dashboards. 

01/22/2004 U.S. Navy opens Center for Concept Visualization for New Ship 
Design using SGI Onyx Advanced Visualization Systems. 

01/21/2004 Cognos(R) ReportNet(TM) certified for SAP NetWeaver(TM) 
integration. 

01/21/2004 Sybase extends Linux leadership with Sybase IQ 12.5 Business 
Intelligence infrastructure. 

01/21/2004 Intergraph invites Geospatial Professionals to submit 
solutions to complex spatial analysis problems for awards program. 

01/21/2004 LocatePLUS deploys Microsoft Business Solutions for Customer 
Relationship Management.

01/21/2004 XpertSHARE 2.0, an expert location, management and 
collaboration platform enables corporations to most effectively leverage 
their most valuable asset--employee brainpower.

01/20/2004 Alitalia chooses MicroStrategy for enterprise-wide customer 
analysis and reporting to enhance customer service applications.

01/20/2004 Cognos selected as top BI provider by Consumer Goods 
Technology Magazine.

01/20/2004 SGI launches initiative to dramatically improve Linux 
visualization capabilities.

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