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Why Does Data Warehousing Take So Long?

A common complaint about data warehousing/BI has been time to market.   The investment in real months required to stand up analytics is just too large. Descriptions of the actual time required vary (depending on who you ask, and what their interests are) from a year to 24 months. The numbers are open to debate, but let’s go ahead and stick with the conventional wisdom that Data Warehousing typically requires a significant timeline to see results. This assumption then begs two questions:

  1. Does it have to take that long?
  2. If it has to, will it be worthwhile?

Looking at the second question first, there’s a very simple answer: YES. Successful DW/BI projects can utterly revolutionize an organization’s processes and even their outlook. They can shine light on problems, point the way to new opportunities, and improve the daily work lives of employees at almost any level. I consider it a foregone conclusion that there is tremendous value in well-built DW/BI systems.

Of course, the caveat there is the whole “well-built” part. That’s where the delays creep in, and where the real timeline resides. In addition to the experience and expertise brought to the design and construction these systems, the degree of involvement of the business also plays a very large role in how successful the solution will be. Too many gaps or failures on either side can result in less-than-satisfactory outcomes being reached after spending a lot of time and effort.

So that leads us back to the first question above: does it have to take that long? I mean, upwards of 2 years to build a decent Business Intelligence solution? This answer is not nearly as easy because the factors that contribute to extending timelines in DW/BI projects are numerous and varied. For instance:

  • Are the builders of the system planning development closely with the consuming org? If not, extend the timeline.
  • Is the business committed to providing solid requirements on an ongoing basis? If not, extend the timeline.
  • Is the development team sufficiently experienced and under solid technical leadership? If not, extend the timeline.

You get the point. The development work in and of itself is not necessarily what takes a long time. What takes a long time is when business needs are misunderstood or disregarded, when expectations aren’t managed, when the chosen technology platform is not well-aligned to business requirements — basically, when either side doesn’t fully understand what they are getting into, and there is misalignment in that area.

In the next few posts, I’ll go over various tools and techniques currently in the market that offer some kind of acceleration of the data warehousing process, and see what paths are available to speed up time-to-analytics. I will include the tool class sometimes variously referred to as either “frameworks” or “accelerators”. I’ll talk about iterative development and the potential risks and benefits of using Agile methodologies. And I’ll discuss possible ways that planning in itself can help deliver results sooner rather than later.

Next time: Accelerators and Frameworks. Hope to see you then!

 

The Sitecore Symposium Experience For You

Jamie Stump, Parshva Vora, myself, and others from the Perficient family attended Sitecore Symposium this past week. We absorbed a lot of knowledge about what is upcoming with Sitecore 7.5 and Sitecore 8. The cadence communicated from Sitecore is around “experience”. The building blocks are being put in place for you, our clients, to help your customers have a custom and personal experience while we as a partner provide solutions that allow you to place “experience before content”.  Read the rest of this post »

A “Connected Consumer” turns into lifelong customers

What a week it was! I am referring to the last week spent at Sitecore Symposium North America and Annual MVP Summit that took place in Las Vegas. There was plenty to absorb with as much as seven sessions in progress at the same time. Sessions were divided into three different tracks: Product, Business and Developer. Obviously I couldn’t make it to all, but I did attend a good mix of them. All sessions were diverse in terms of subject matter. However, from opening keynote to closing keynote, the emerging theme was clear, and it was the Connected Consumer Experience!

personalizationWell, the concept of the consumer experience is not entirely brand new. At the symposium, stronger emphasis was placed on the term ‘connected’. The digital marketing landscape is continuously shifting as customers are engaging in doing business across several channels – email, website, mobile sites, apps. social media, CRM etc., and it poses at least two immediate questions for any organization that takes their customers seriously.

  1. Are we ready, as an organization, to do business with customers across these diverse channels?
  2. And, if so, do we have the infrastructure and solutions in place that drive for us a single view of our customer across online and offline touch points so that we can offer them a connected and meaningful experience?

Read the rest of this post »

Everything You Need to Know About Delve & Office Graph

Ok, I’ve got to admit I really meant to say “Almost everything you need to know in first Release.”

The more you share, the more you get. Believe in that? Office 365 community does and as a result , this week Microsoft hosted “Delve Yamjam” to coincide with the launch of the new Office 365 product called “Delve”. (If you are new to I highly recommend reading earlier articles here and here to get to know your new friend Delve). Look at a screenshot of Delve from my demo tenant, looks pretty cool, huh?

Delve Img1

Some great questions asked some great thoughts shared. I summarize here for the larger community. Microsoft responses were from Christophe Fiessinger, Kady Dundas, Josh Stickler, Mark Kashman, Cem Aykan and on the phone Ashok Kuppusamy, Stefan Debald, Fredrik Holm, John Toews, and Robin Miller.

  • Which Office 365 business plans includes Delve?
    • Delve is included in the Office 365 E1 – E4 subscription plans (and the corresponding A2 – A4 and G1 – G4 plans for Academic and Government customers respectively)
  • Can I protect data from ever being shown in others Delve results?
    • Yes, Delve only shows documents based on permissions set and inherit those from OneDrive and SharePoint online. Also each card will have a sharing control and “who can see this” option
    • If your folder and contents are not shared with anyone, they will not appear in Delve for anyone. It always respect the permissions set on the items.
  • Which kinds of data is considered “private data”?
    • There’s both the concept of private data (e.g. files that only you or you and a select few colleagues can see) and private signals (e.g. the fact that you have viewed a particular document, even if it’s public). Delve respects SharePoint and Search permissions, so only users who have access to read a document can see that document appear as a result in Delve. Furthermore, details like the documents you view or documents others view are private.
  • Any Android / iOS apps in the pipeline for Delve?
    • Yes but no timeline could be provided yet
  • Not all content (file types) is included in Delve. Any plans for extending the list of file types, and/or list of content sources?
    • PDF, excel, and word file types are included but there is absence of image files and Visio files.
    • Yep, we are planning to add more content sources and signals to the Office Graph on ongoing basis
    • We are working on increasing the content types supported by Delve. We started with an initial list of Office doc types, but we will expand this over time.
  • Delve site has default branding and does not incorporate our corporate branding that is available on Yammer, OneDrive and Sites menu options in top navigation bar?
    • The top Office 365 navigation is now theme able and your theme should be available in Delve as well. Broader theming is something we’ll be looking at in the future.
  • Delve was rolled out to our business tenant yesterday. So far it is showing us trending documents that our co-workers are viewing on SharePoint. Is there a way to block certain areas so we don’t see our co-workers trends in HR searches?
    • You can make those documents not shared using the SharePoint permissions UI, but right now, there’s no feature to exclude documents from Delve but still available to everyone.  read here for more details.
  • Will Outlook be leverage into Delve
    • Outlook as part of Office 365 is already leveraged in Delve.
    • We are considering adding email attachments to Delve.
    • Office Graph is driving scenario for OWA. So appointments and attendee information are only leveraged in delve if it’s in OWA. You can imagine Office Graph providing insights multiple scenarios in the future…if you haven’t already done so check the Office Graph on the blog post from Monday.
  • Does ‘signals from exchange’ refer to email relationships (i.e. who the recipients and senders are)?
    • Yes, and to elaborate, it analyzes the set of people with whom you correspond via email and use this data as a factor to weight your working relationships with your colleagues.
    • The org structure is another factor taken into consideration
  • The 5 people to the left – seems to be right for most people (in terms of the ones with most interactions), but I have seen colleagues, with strange people presented as top 5 people.
    • have a bug where it is showing groups/crawler accounts instead of just people
    • The people on the left aren’t related to them in any way. Known issues MSFT working with no ETA
  • Will Delve work in a hybrid scenario using my On-Premise systems?
    • This is place for partner opportunities! But MSFT is working on a solution to feed on-premises (like exchange on premise) content into Delve, but no timeline can be announced.
    • Plans to release hybrid connector capabilities so that the Office Graph can integrate signals and content from on prem.
  • Any federation plans across multiple tenants?
    • No plans today
  • Delve supports the most common screen readers, high-contrast mode etc aligned with Microsoft policies in this area.
  • Is there a way to limit #delve deployment to some user groups in the company? Just to help company to graduate deploy it
    • An individual user can turn off Delve. This will also control Office Graph as-well.
  • Are you adding Delve results to the search page, or can we see this as an UI opportunity
    • Not to SharePoint enterprise search center but we look at that as an opportunity
  • Item limit for Delve
    • Delve shows up to 36 items in a view. This is the same when you search in the search box.
  • Details to the API Roadmap?
    • Right now you can do graph queries through the SharePoint Search Rest API using “Graph Query Language” as described here: GQL
  • If a user has permission to access a document/list item but the library/list is excluded from search in list settings will the content still display in Delve?
    • Nope, Delve uses the same permissions for search..
  • Do you have plan to return Yammer conversations in any form as Delve results ?
    • It’s something MSFT is actively working on showing the Yammer conversations tied to documents in Delve.
  • Is Delve going to work with Office 365 Pro Plus client or only Office online, and the other question, is it only working based on files saved only in ODFB and SharePoint online?
    • Yes if the document is stored in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online then yes the Office Graph will index it
  • What is the best way to introduce Delve within an organization? Are there best practices and change management recommendations?
    • We are working on an email template that Office 365 admins can then send to their users that helps address exactly what you’re asking. It would have info about What, How, Why with links and first steps. This template will be made available to admins via the message center to raise awareness.
    • We, too, plan to incorporate Delve info and insight into the adoption website we currently maintain here: Discover SharePoint  (with near-term plans to focus on broader Office 365 scenarios).

Hope this provides some insights around how Office Graph captures and renders signals. Check back for more details as I dive more into Delve.

Office 365 pushes Microsoft atop Gartner’s Social Magic Quadrant

Microsoft position as a Leader in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace has moved to the top. Read the rest of this post »

Webinar Recap: What to Know When Migrating to Microsoft Exchange

On Tuesday, we teamed up with Binary Tree, Microsoft’s 2014 Messaging Partner of the Year, for a webinar on Best Practices & Solutions For Migrating to Microsoft Exchange.

The session delved into Office 365, common challenges when migrating to Exchange, along with an example of a customer who recently migrated to Exchange Online with the help of Binary Tree’s solution, and then, how Binary Tree’s CMT Suite works with a demonstration of CMT for Coexistence and CMT for Exchange.

First, Perficient’s Rene Strawser, whose role as a lead technical consultant allows her to focus primarily on the deployment and migration of the Microsoft unified communications technologies of Exchange, gave attendees a bit of background on the trends surrounding the cloud, and specific features of cloud-based Exchange in Office 365.

Following this, James Tolentino, another lead technical consultant at Perficient, shared the common challenges he’s worked through when migrating customers to Exchange from legacy email platforms, and then walked through a situation where a customer recently moved from a legacy email platform to Exchange Online. He described the key features of the Binary Tree tools that were used as well as an overview of the migration process. This included the criticality of end user communication and the use of PowerShell commands and replica/staging.

For the second half of the webinar, Binary Tree solution architect Perry Hiltz went into further detail on Binary Trees’s award-winning SMART migration software solutions, CMT for Coexistence and CMT for Exchange, and then gave the audience a live demo of the tools in action.

You can view the entire replay here, including the demonstration. You can also catch up with the speakers on Twitter: @srstrawser and @PWHiltz.

Office 365 & SharePoint Online – Customize the Suite Bar

The Suite Bar is the thin blue bar that runs at the very top of your Office 365 window with your Outlook, Calendar, People, Yammer, OneDrive, and Sites links. Its your primary navigation to all the different services in your Office 365 Suite of products. Have you ever wished the bar wasn’t blue? Have you ever wanted to add your own logo? Well now you can!

nav-bar-1024x37

Microsoft has announced a new feature of Office 365 – Custom Themes. Go to your Office 365 Admin Dashboard, click your company hyperlink in the top right corner, then you’ll see options to change the following: Read the rest of this post »

SharePoint Online Retires Tags and Notes

As Microsoft continues to blend and expand Yammer capabilities across the platform, they have retired Tags and Notes in SharePoint Online.

Key factor to note is that users can no longer create create or access existing tags or notes. The only option is for SharePoint Online admins to export all existing tags and notes via an archived csv files, from the SharePoint admin center. Also, for those using this feature, the webparts will start showing up blank.

Tags-Notes

Tags and Note UX in SharePoint 2013

Below is the table of  how this will affect users :

Item
Change
Tags & Notes button on ribbonStill visible but disabled.
Note Board and Tag Cloud web parts in the web part galleryStill visible and enabled. The web parts will show up as blank when added to a page.
Note Board and Tag Cloud web parts embedded in a pagePage will display a blank space in the area previously occupied by the web parts. Edit the page to remove the web parts.
Social tagsSocial tags will no longer appear in the tags refiner. The refiner will still display hashtags.
Tags and notes listed on personal sitesThe area that previously listed tags and notes will be blank.

Delve Has Arrived

How long have you been patiently waiting for this amazing new search powered app called “Delve”? Days, weeks, months?
The wait is finally over with Microsoft announcing today that it is releasing Delve to office 365 subscribers!

What is Delve?
Delve is a new way to search and discover content with Office graph in the background doing all the heavy lifting.
I talk about it in detail here or Watch the video here.

Release ScheduleFinally Here
The Office blog says, “Delve will roll out to Office 365 customers in phases, first to customers that have elected to receive significant Office 365 service updates at first release, an opt-in program. Following that, Delve will roll out to all Office 365 customers over several months in standard release, the default option for Office 365 customers. We expect Delve to roll out to all eligible Office 365 customers by early 2015. For the Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, Small Business, Small Business Premium, and Midsize Business customers, first release rollout will begin in January 2015.”

Admin Get Started
If you are wondering how to avail this feature, check out the Delve for Admins here.

SharePoint Online (O365) adds security and compliance services

In the past month, Microsoft has added two key new service capabilities to SharePoint Online and Rights Management that provide a more robust secure computing experience.  The first is the introduction of data loss prevention and the second is the improvements in protecting content across all platforms including OS X Support.

Data Loss Prevention

DLPSharePoint Online now provides the ability to perform a legal audit to determine the amount of risk posed by data stored on SharePoint sites and OneDrive, commonly known as data loss prevention or DLP. This capability provides the ability to identifying 51 built-in sensitive information types such as credit cards, passport numbers, and Social Security numbers. Once discovered there is the ability to perform an audit and export a report with suspect content.

There is future capabilities for policy creation that automatically detects sensitive content and applies protection, such as deletion or quarantine for review.

For more information about Using DLP in SharePoint Online, review this TechNet article
For more information about the Using 51 DLP Information Types, review this TechNet article.

Read the rest of this post »