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September 21, 2010

Dashboard: Analyze your website traffic with Google Analytics in Bime

Today we bring you a Bime dashboard to demonstrate to you the Google Analytics Connector. We have connected directly to data from Google Analytics using the SaaS version of Bime.

Taking a look at the Bime dashboard below, we have utilized one of the newest functions available - grouped dashboards.

The Main tab contains the heatmap and the treemap visualizations. You'll notice to the right of the Main tab, there is a second one entitled "visits by source". This tab contains visualizations containing source data.

tabs

Take a closer look at our heatmap, which uses Google Maps on top of Bime to display geocoded data. This is particularly useful because no doubt you have already used Google Maps at some point in your life and are already familiar with its interface!

heatmap

This heatmap displays pages per visit by country. So the countries that visit the most pages per visit are represented by larger circles (if you zoom in you can see this more clearly!). Don't forget that you can change the rendering mode using the options in the bottom left hand corner of the heatmap, to switch between heat circles and graduated circles. When you switch to graduated circles, the number of pages per visit is displayed inside the circle, and is also represented by the size of the circle too.

heatmap graduated circles

To keep it simple, we just stuck to one measure, but if you wanted to look at another measure on the same heatmap, you could do so on top of "size" or "color" in the pivot table, and this new measure would be represented respectively in the size of the circle radius or in the color.

Another cool flexible feature that Bime offers is the ability to regeocode your data if need be. Sometimes the Google Maps API can misread your data (for example: Georgia can be confused with the state in the USA, instead of the country, and vice versa). Should this confusion occur, it's only a simple matter of regeocoding your data manually. Simply click on the offending point and this will bring up a box containing location information. You'll find a box at the bottom where you can further specify your location, using our example, you would write "Georgia Europe" or "Georgia USA" depending on your requirements. Clicking "(re)geocode" will send a request to Google to change the location on your heatmap. It's as simple as that!

regeocode

Moving onto the second visualization in the Main tab, here we have an example of the treemap, displaying visits and time spent on page for each month for a number of segments. Each box represents a segment, the size is relative to time spent on page, and the color represents the number of visits for that month. By clicking the play button in the top left hand corner of the chart this will start an automatic loop that will take you through each individual month. Alternatively you can click through manually, using the key on the left hand side.

treemap

The time spent on page decreases going from top left to bottom right, so you can instantly see which segments (type of visitors) spend the most time on a page. The color legend to the right of the treemap tells you that the more visitors there are the more blue the box is, and the less visitors there, the more pink it is. You can therefore infer that the site is normally most visited by new visitors, but non bounce traffic spend more time on each page. Armed with knowledge like this, you could then go on to dissect your online activity to see which pages are performing well, and why.

Now let's take a look at the second tab, visits by source. The first visualization is the guages. Here we filtered down to the top 10 traffic-producing sources. The guage makes a nice comparison tool as you can see the angle of the needle of the dial corresponds to the number of visits from each source. For more detailed analysis, the absolute number is also displayed at the bottom of the dial.

Last but not least, our fourth visualization is the simple-but-effective pie chart. We saw earlier on that August was one of our best months, so we decided to analyze a bit further. So we took the time on page and visits per source dimensions for the month of August and stuck them into the pivot table. We put time on page on top of color (blue representing the most, and pink representing the least) and left visits as the section size. One glance at the pie chart tells you that the sources that generate more traffic, also generate visitors that are more engaged, in terms of spending more time on a page. How can you be absolutely sure that direct traffic is the best quality traffic? During your analysis in the pivot table, simply hover over the direct segment and choose "decompose" to drill down even further!

decompose

Don't forget: available on the right hand side of every Bime dashboard is the ability to filter the view of your attributes and measures to facilitate analysis.

filters

This was a basic overview of some of the things you can do with Google Analytics in Bime. But don't underestimate Bime's power - there are unlimited analyses you can do with Bime's powerful calculation engine that are otherwise impossible in the regular Google Analytics application. So what are you waiting for? Test it out now here !

Posted by We Are Cloud at 6:15 AM | Comments (7)

September 14, 2010

How do you Measure Business Intelligence Performance?

Measuring BI performance

A question often posed by professionals wanting to know how they can tell if their BI solution is performing well : How do you Measure Business Intelligence Performance? There are of course many ways to measure performance (take a look at our previous post, 30 Business Performance Indicators you can (and should) Measure") which generally boil down to tracking the quantified monetary benefits against the system cost. It is also worth noting that each industry is different and there are measurement parameters that are often industry or function specific.

Some performance measures

Generally, the most common way of measuring business performance requires measurement of some type of goal or KPI, whether it is an initial or newly formed one. This normally ties in nicely with measuring ROI. Measurement parameters could include, but are not limited to: scalability, usability, reliability, quality and adoption/usage.

Before implementing a BI solution there are normally some key organizational objectives and KPIs that have been put in place to work towards. Measuring business intelligence performance based on successful completion of these goals alone is perhaps a little too rigid, but certainly using them as indicators of BI performance can be helpful. ROI, often closely related to an organization's goals, can be used as an easily quantifiable measure of BI success, making it perhpas the "strongest" measure available.

Adoption/usage has the potential be a really good indicator, if able to be correctly quantified. A common problem with this type of parameter is that it's sometimes quantified too late on in the measurement process to be able to make any constructive changes - for example, if very few people are using your BI system, but you don't know why, it's more a case of too little too late since people have already lost interest.

In terms of usability, people suggest that as long as the system is being used and is easy enough to use, then it is performing. But just because a team is using BI a lot, does this mean it performs better than a team that only use it occasionally? Or if your system is particularly simple to use, does this make it a better than a system that requires help from the IT department?

Quality could refer to the quality of data used with the system, the quality of the system itself or the quality of the results derived from the BI analysis. Data quality can highly affect the performance of the BI system as well as the outcome, placing it as a strong measure of business intelligence performance.

Reliability - everyone wants a reliable BI solution. Something that will give consistent and accurate results. A BI solution could be considered as well-performing if it always delivers what the user wants. But this measure alone is probably not enough to quantify the performance level of a business intelligence system...

Final thoughts

It has been suggested that at the end of the day, the success of a BI initiative should be measured in terms of value creation : whether the BI solution gives the business the tools to get as much value out of their data as possible, while at the same time providing valuable insight that can be applied to leverage enough money to cover the cost of implementing the BI solution and make a profit. What we drew from our research into this topic is that there is no standard way of measuring BI performance : each organization has different ways of measuring performance and quantifying success. It is highly likely that organizations use a combination of several of the above measures, as well as others not mentioned here, to draw conclusions about the performance levels of their BI solution.

Posted by We Are Cloud at 4:15 AM | Comments (467)

September 10, 2010

6 Resources for Business Intelligence News and Information

Despite Business Intelligence becoming an increasingly widespread practice, there appears to be relatively little to choose from in terms of good quality news and information resources. From monitoring several discussions on LinkedIn, we saw the same names tended to crop up over and over again.

1. TDWI.org

Perhaps the most widely recognized for BI content was TDWI.org. The Data Warehousing Institute provides education, training, certification, news, and research for executives and IT professionals across the world. Founded 15 years ago, TDWI is the premier educational institute for business intelligence and data warehousing. Home to Wayne's World Blog, written by Wayne W. Eckerson, the director of research and services, it provides readers with anything from online conferences, to whitepaper downloads, to industry reports.

2. Information-management.com

Frequently cited by several LinkedIn members, Information Management was another popular resource people turned to for BI news. It claims to be "the educated reader's choice for the latest news, commentary and feature content serving the information technology and business community", and with its relaunch last year, it offers original reporting, online radio programming, informative Web seminar programming, white paper resources and online education to professionals in the field of IT. Providing daily informative newsletters on a variety of content, it is understandable why info-mgmt.com has carved a strong position in the BI domain.

3. B-Eye-Network.com

The BeyeNETWORK provides global coverage of the BI ecosystem. It supplies industry coverage and resources on business intelligence, performance management, data warehousing, data integration and data quality. B-Eye-Network also includes BeyeUNIVERSITY, a comprehensive curriculum covering all areas of the business intelligence ecosystem. These certificate programs are taught by experts who are nationally and internationally recognized as leaders in their respective fields, and best of all, are completely free!

4. Ralf Kimball

The name Ralph Kimball cropped up on more than one occasion, although perhaps not soley in reference to BI. He is known worldwide as an innovator, writer, educator, speaker and consultant in the field of data warehousing. He has maintained his long-term conviction that data warehouses must be designed to be understandable and fast. His books on dimensional design techniques have become best sellers in data warehousing. To date Ralph has written more than 100 articles and columns for Intelligent Enterprise and its predecessors, winning the Readers' Choice Award five years in a row. Some of his books include "The Kimball Group Reader: Relentlessly Practical Tools for Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence" and "The Data Warehouse ETL Toolkit: Practical Techniques for Extracting, Cleaning, Conforming, and Delivering Data".

5. Bill Inmon

Similarly to Ralph Kimball, Bill Inmon was another name that graced discussions quite regularly. Inmon, a world-renowned expert, speaker and author on data warehousing, is widely recognized as the "Father of Data Warehousing". In addition to authoring more than 50 books and 650 articles, Bill has been a monthly columnist with the Business Intelligence Network, EIM Institute and Data Management Review. In 2007, Bill was named by Computerworld as one of the "Ten IT People Who Mattered in the Last 40 Years" of the computer profession.

6. Howard Dresner

Howard Dresner is an industry acclaimed expert, noted author, thought leader and lecturer for Business Intelligence, and Enterprise Performance Management. He spent 13 years at Gartner, where he served as lead analyst for Business Intelligence. Today as President and Founder of Dresner Advisory Services, he focuses his energy on creating and sharing thought leadership for Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Business Intelligence (BI) and speaks at forums around the globe. He has written two books: "The Performance Management Revolution: Business Results Through Insight and Action" and "Profiles in Performance: Business Intelligence Journeys and The Roadmap for Change".

Posted by We Are Cloud at 2:30 AM | Comments (2169)

September 6, 2010

The History of Business Intelligence

This 10 minute movie takes you through the establishment of business intelligence: its early beginnings, the invention of data warehouses, the establishment of the first data management companies in the 1970s. Light-hearted and sprinkled with the occasional amusing anecdote, this video does a good job of keeping your attention from start to finish.

Most basic definitions are covered during the course of the video - What is data / a decision / information / intelligence.. coupled with easy-to-understand explanations.

See the video for yourself:

Posted by We Are Cloud at 2:45 AM | Comments (0)

September 2, 2010

Five top fives in Business Intelligence

We bring you 5 lists, each one containing 5 things, relevant to business intelligence!

1. 5 BI and Data Visualization Trends for 2010

One of the more popular entries on our blog, we thought we'd remind you of the 5 BI and data visualization trends we identified for this year.

2. Top Five Unconventional Uses of Business Intelligence Software

An interesting approach to the uses of business intelligence software, this list is designed to give you a sense of the wide range of projects you can tackle using it.

3. Top 5 Reasons Why Your Business Intelligence Project Will Fail

5 potential reasons for failure, along with 5 antidotes to try and avoid it.

4. Five Steps to Business Intelligence Success

Similar to the above, this list gives 5 steps you can take in order to implement a successful business intelligence project.

5. Top 5 Business Intelligence Considerations for Enterprises

Before deploying any BI solution, you should think through these top five BI considerations from Leslie O'Neill.

If you know of any more, we'd love to hear about them. Feel free to leave a comment.

Posted by We Are Cloud at 2:45 AM | Comments (1)