Towards “Business Intelligence 2.0″, and Thoughts on the Next Seminar

Last week I posted an article on the forthcoming round of BI Masterclasses that I'll be running through Oracle University, and I suggested an agenda mainly focused around the new BI Enterprise Edition family of products. I invited feedback on the agenda and got some useful comments, which reinforced in my mind the fact that there's lots of interest in deploying BI functionality in applications and business processes.

When I started thinking about the agenda for next year, I was obviously keen to offer something a bit different to this years agenda, which is mostly focused around introducing people to the latest versions of OWB, Oracle OLAP and Discoverer, and to introduce the new Enterprise Edition set of tools and put them in the correct context. This year, I want to move on from introducing the tools to actually using them in a meaningful way, and the most obvious thing to me was to place them in the context of the latest BI marketing buzzword - "Business Intelligence 2.0".

Business Intelligence 2.0 is a concept I've heard bandied about over the last few months, and it's obviously something that's been thought up in reaction to the "Web 2.0" hype based around interactive, AJAX-style apps, user involvement and interaction, loosely-coupled "mashup" style architectures and short development lifecycles. Business Intelligence 1.0 is defined as specialist, small-audience BI tools such as Discover for OLAP, ProClarity and Cognos Powerplay, datasets that are largely database-based and with latencies of a day or a week, data sources confined to formal, dimension-style data warehouses, the actual analysis of the data being a separate task done away from line of business applications, and expensive, proprietary toolsets brought together from a number of nice, specialist tool vendors.

Business Intelligence 2.0, in contrast, is defined by large, non-specialist audiences, BI delivered directly into line of business applications rather than requiring a context shift to a separate OLAP tool, datasets made up of event and service-based data sources as well as traditional data warehouses, analysis and decisions being taken automatically by the BI infrastructure when the event happens, rather than manually, after-the-event by a team of analysts, real-time data in order support better operational decisions, tools and dashboards as easy to use as Google rather than ones that require a week's training to use, and loosely-coupled, "mashed up" decision architectures brought together quickly to react to a business opportunity.

So, to reduce this list down to it's essence, Business Intelligence 2.0 seems to come down to:

    <li>Event and service-based data sources (i.e. from middleware) as well as warehouse and operational data from the database </li>
    <li>BI embedded in business processes and applications</li>
    <li>Business processes callable from BI</li>
    <li>Flexible, loosely-coupled and quick-to-develop data architectures</li>
    <li>Real-time data</li>
    <li>A much wider audience (implications on scalability, complexity of user interfaces)</li>
    <li>Automated decisions</li>

which rather conveniently fits in with the toolset that I was planning on covering in the seminar, except of course I can now look like a visionary rather than someone with a new box of tricks to show off.

So, going back to my original agenda, here's how I plan to fit the above into proposed seminar

"Today, business intelligence is moving away from specialist tools used by a small number of financial analysts towards pervasive, process and application-integrated analytics used by everyone in the organization. Dubbed "Business Intelligence 2.0", this new approach to BI and data warehousing incorporates real-time feeds from application events and business processes, data presented as an integrated corporate information model, automated decision making and analytics presented not only through dashboards and reports but also integrated in to application and business processes.

This two day seminar by Mark Rittman looks at the architecture and thinking behind Business Intelligence 2.0, sees how it is enabled through Oracle's next-generation BI and middleware toolset, and shows, through a number of sessions and demonstrations, how a Business Intelligence 2.0 architecture can be built from the ground up, using tools such as Oracle BI Suite Enterprise Edition, Oracle Data Integrator, Oracle SOA Suite and Oracle Database 10g Enterprise Edition.

The two days consist of 8 sessions of 1.5 hours each, consisting of presentations, examples and discussions.

Day 1 - Building the BI 2.0 Infrastructure

This first day will concentrate on building the data and application architecture to support Business Intelligence 2.0. We will start by looking at trends in the industry and how this had led to greater demands for business intelligence embedded directly in applications and business processes, using real-time data taken from both traditional database sources and from business events and services, and delivered to a wide audience of technical and business users. We then use Oracle's BI tools to create a enterprise information model, use this to derive data structures and aggregates, and then integrate event and service-based data with data from the data warehouse to create a flexible data architecture to support decisions. Finally, we use identity management to secure the data architecture and build on the security infrastructure already in place in the organization.

Throughout both of the seminar days, you will see how a complete BI 2.0 application is built using Oracle tools. Demonstrations in this section include modeling the enterprise information model using Oracle BI Administrator, and creating hierarchies, facts, dimensions and aggregates that are then automatically persisted in an Oracle database to support analysis. Oracle Data Integrator is then used to provide real-time access to event and service-based data, which is then brought together with data from the data warehouse. Finally, Oracle Fusion Middleware's Identity Management features, together with Virtual Private Database, are used to overlay enterprise security roles and privileges over the data used for analysis.

  • Session 1 : Towards BI 2.0 and the Oracle BI Enterprise Edition toolset
  • Session 2 : Creating the Enterprise Information Model using Oracle BI Server
  • Session 3 : Integrating Event, Service and database-based data sources using Oracle Data Integrator
  • Session 4 : Securing using Oracle Fusion Middleware Identity Management

Day 2 - Delivering Business Intelligence 2.0

Now that the BI 2.0 infrastructure is complete, this second day looks at how this platform is used to deliver analytics, analysis and decisions through both Oracle's Enterprise Edition Presentation Server, and through line of business applications and business processes. It will start by showing how analytics and analysis can be delivered through easy-to-use dashboards supplemented by guided analytics, and then show how tools such as Oracle Real-Time Decisions and Oracle Data Mining can be used to automate decision-making and provide insights to users. Then, the features provided by Oracle BI Suite Enterprise Edition are then used to add analytics to BPEL business processes and business rules, and to provide insights and guidance directly in Service-Orientated applications built using Oracle JDeveloper. Finally, all of these techniques are brought together in a complete, BI 2.0-based analytical architecture, together with a road-map provided to move from today's BI tools to the next-generation architecture outlined in this seminar.

Following on from the first day's examples, this day's demonstrations will build on the platform created in the previous day and add BI 2.0-dashboard with process integration and easy customization by the user. It will then integrate functionality from Oracle Data Mining and Oracle Real-Time Decisions, and then take the analytic capabilities of the plaform and embed them in BPEL business processes and JDeveloper-built, SOA-based applications. Finally, all of the elements will be brought together into a coherent, BI 2.0-based architecture based on a common information model and shared analytics.

  • Session 1 : BI 2.0 Reporting and analysis using Oracle BI Presentation Server
  • Session 2 : Adding analytics and decisioning using ODM and Oracle Real-Time Decisions
  • Session 3 : Building BI into SOA-based Applications and Business Processes
  • Session 4 : Bringing it all together into a Business Intelligence 2.0 Architecture

Over the two days, delegates will learn how to:

  • Take a "model-first" approach to building the BI metadata layer
  • Integrate data from events, web services and relational data into a data warehouse
  • Supplement the data warehouse with aggregates created by the BI server
  • Apply security over the information model and data warehouse using Oracle Fusion Middleware Identity Management
  • Use the features of Oracle Interactive Dashboard, Oracle Answers and Oracle Delivers to create a user-friendly, dynamic Bi analysis environment
  • Call BPEL business processes from Oracle Interactive Dashboard
  • Embed Web Service calls to the Oracle BI Server in BPEL business processes
  • Have iBots react to SOA events
  • Embed Oracle BI Enterprise Edition functionality in JDeveloper SOA-based applications
  • Use Oracle Data Mining and Oracle Real-Time Decisions in dashboards and SOA-based applications
  • See how all these elements come together in a coherent, next-gen BI architecture."

So, what do you think. A load of old marketing guff, or something that seems a coherent set of technologies that fits together well as a seminar theme? A bit too ambitious, a bit too much content, or something that'll make the two days seem worthwhile?

One thing that's for certain is that, as someone with only a passing knowledge of SOA, BPEL and so on, I'll be approaching it firmly from the perspective of a BI developer who suddenly realizes there's a whole world out there of business processes, business applications, and non-technical users who are an audience for the sorts of things he normally delivers. I certainly won't be trying to deliver an in-depth introduction to developing using JSF and SOA Suite, all I'll be doing is understanding enough to make my BI apps interoperate with these tools, If you're familiar with JSF and SOA, is this feasible? My hope here is to somehow get hold of a prebuilt, SOA and BPEL application and wire my BI stuff into it, something like the BC4J Petstore, or the BPEL load approvals demo, where I can pick up end points or amend the application to make reference to BI server calls - anyone got any ideas or pointers here?

Anyway, I think I've got it clear in my head how I'll run the seminar, but of course any feedback is appreciated as this helps me to focus on developers' real needs. Once I submit the agenda to Oracle University, invites and adverts should go out shortly afterwards, so as they say, watch this space.