Friday Dec 20, 2013

Year in Review – Oracle Business Analytics in 2013

2013 was a busy year for Oracle Business Analytics and as it comes to end, we wanted take a moment to thank all of our customers and partners for another great year together. At Oracle, we enjoy a good year-end recap so here is a look at Oracle Business Analytics top 10 moments in 2013 (in no particular order).  Relax and take a stroll down memory lane with us!

10. The Release of Oracle Endeca Information Discovery 3.1 – The latest release of Oracle Endeca Information Discovery 3.1 incorporates new enterprise self-service discovery capabilities for business users, allowing them to easily make information-based business decisions with greater success, safety and confidence. Learn more about Oracle Endeca

9. Big Data at Work Webcast Series – 5 webcasts, 1000’s of attendees with featured guest speakers from Dell, Passoker, Cloudera, Delphi, as well as MIT’s Andrew McAfee. View on-demand

8. Oracle Exalytics T5-8 Scales Up to Deliver Customers with Analytic Insights Oracle Exalytics In-Memory MachineT5-8, the new engineered system with 4TB of memory per machine, delivers extreme performance for business intelligence (BI) and enterprise performance management (EPM) applications, helping organizations drive better efficiency by speeding answers to complex business scenarios. Learn more about Oracle Exalytics

7. Mark Hurd - Oracle OpenWorld 2013 Keynote – Oracle President, Mark Hurd, gives his keynote on transforming businesses with Big Data and Analytics at Oracle OpenWorld 2013. Watch the Video

6. Oracle Exalytics Strong Customer Adoption– Sodexo, SoftBank, Cablemas, WorleyParsons, Santos, Zagrebacka banka , Cablevisón, Avago Technologies, United Supermarkets, Immonet GmbH, Nilson Group AB, Siemens Healthcare, Pinellas County, Ministero del Lavoro were among the many organizations recognized at Oracle OpenWorld 2013 for leveraging Oracle Exalytics to deliver extreme performance for their mission-critical BI and enterprise performance management (EPM) applications. Learn more about Oracle Exalytics

5. The Release of Oracle BI Mobile App Designer A new design tool with which business users can easily create stunning and interactive analytical applications for use on any major mobile device. With this release, Oracle adds major innovations to Oracle Business Intelligence, extending the capabilities of the Oracle BI Mobile solution, and reinforcing Oracle’s commitment to empowering organizations to stay connected to their businesses with real-time insights while on the go. Learn more about Oracle BI Mobile App Designer

4. Oracle Exalytics X3-4 Powers Real-Time Analytical Insights – The new system features significant software enhancements and hardware updates, dramatically expanding the capabilities of the industry’s first high-speed engineered system for business analytics. Learn more about Oracle Exalytics

3. The release of Oracle Business Intelligence Applications 11.1.1.7.1 Completely redesigned to increase implementation productivity, the new release incorporates significant enhancements across the entire BI Applications product line and introduces new in-memory analytic applications. Learn more about Oracle BI Applications

2. The Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite Release 11.1.1.7 Delivers significant enhancements to usability, mobility, user experience and Big Data integration, enabling organizations to analyze critical information and get the intelligence they need to optimize their business. Learn more about Oracle BI Foundation Suite

1. Oracle Positioned in Leaders Quadrant for BI and Analytics Platforms by Gartner – Oracle has been named Leader in Business Intelligence for the seventh consecutive year. Read the report. Plus, Oracle customer, Land O Lakes, wins Gartner BI and Analytics Excellence award for their innovative use of Oracle Endeca Information Discovery. Read the story

Historic Moment - Oracle Team USA puts Big Data and Analytics to work and fuels the most dramatic victory in the history of the America's Cup. Watch the Video

Friday Apr 12, 2013

What’s new in Oracle Endeca Information Discovery 3.0

We are very excited to introduce Oracle Endeca Information Discovery 3.0, a major release which has been 2 years in the making.  This release continues to strengthen Oracle Business analytics portfolio with a key enhancements to our Data Discovery solution.

There are three major themes to the release:


Enhanced End User Discovery Experience: Improving upon an intuitive end user discovery experience founded on years of experience in online commerce, the OEID3.0 release provides a completely modernized look and feel.  This provides users a more sophisticated, yet streamlined and cleaner experience in which to discover new insights.   
REdesigned OEID Interface
Improved Business User Self-Service: Oracle Endeca Information Discovery 3.0 has made major investments to empower the business. This is achieved by providing business users with the ability to upload their own Excel files into Endeca Server and create new discovery applications without the need to understand complex query languages. Business users can also create and share new applications using highly curated data sets already provisioned by IT.

Robust Data Discovery for the Enterprise: A superior discovery experience does not come at the expense of enterprise standards, governance, and security.  With this release OEID provides new features which further solidify its place as the only enterprise-class data discovery platform, with localization on 10 languages, Endeca Server support on 22 languages, the ability to deploy on Weblogic, new JSON reader, native integrations with Oracle BI Server, and more.

To find out more about the Oracle Endeca Information Discovery 3.0 release, check out our What’s new Document or attend our upcoming webcast on April 16th.

Thursday Feb 21, 2013

Breakthrough Strategies for HR Success

Aberdeen Group’s recent  study “The HR Executive‘s Agenda” shows organizations using workforce analytics experienced a 14% year-over-year improvement in revenue per employee compared to just 5% for those companies that did not.  Is your organization using analytics  to effectively manage its employees and improve performance?  We often hear from organizations that the key drivers for adopting an analytics-based approach to HR include:

  • Lack of accurate view of workforce profile
  • Measuring the effectiveness of HR
  • Aligning talent management with corporate strategies
  • Understanding the voice and sentiment of the workforce from topics and themes hidden in unstructured content

Join us on for a Webcast to find out how Oracle Business Analytics helps organizations of any size meet key HR challenges and  gain a 360-degree view of critical HR information within the enterprise and beyond.

Event Date: Thursday, February 28, 2013

Event Time: 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET

Register Now 

Tuesday Jan 15, 2013

Transforming Workforce Management with Oracle Endeca Information Discovery

Human Resources is back in the spotlight.  According to industry benchmarks, the cost of replacing an employee can equate to 1.5-4x an employee’s salary, and given ever shrinking budgets, improving employee retention is viewed as a major way to reduce costs on the bottom line.  In fact, according to a recent study by the Society of Human Resource Management, the three biggest challenges facing HR executives over the next 10 years are retaining and rewarding the best employees (59%), developing the next generation of corporate leaders (52%), and creating a corporate culture that attracts the best employees to organizations (36%).


Fortunately, data abounds which can help organizations make the best decisions necessary to solve these challenges.  Unfortunately, much of the information and the resulting insights which can come from it are outside the reach of traditional business analytics systems, in external websites, social media, text from human resource transactions kept in legacy systems, and documents in content management systems.  With this ever-growing complexity, HR executives can gain competitive advantage through richer intelligence, if they are able to draw new and innovative insight with a tool which provides previously untapped actionable information—Oracle Endeca Information Discovery.

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery helps human resource organizations to improve the relationship between companies and their employees, get to the real root causes behind issues, and create new best practices through a better understanding of the workforce by solving the problems associated with analyzing unstructured data. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery creates transformative opportunities for the business, and enables IT to cost-effectively support them in:  

  • Understanding the voice and sentiment of the workforce.  By providing the ability to use natural-language queries to derive insights from information from all sources, Oracle Endeca Information Discovery provides insight into the effectiveness of strategic and tactical HR decisions such as career changes, organizational realignment, compensation adjustments, training and a host of other significant HR events.
  • Identifying the root causes behind events and exceptions.  By combining structured and unstructured data about the workforce from internal and external sources, HR organizations are empowered to determine the reasons why things happen and respond to findings without direct IT involvement, saving time and cost.
  • Supercharging existing business analytics investments.  With the unscripted exploration of workforce data and full-featured search, navigation & interactive analytics, HR organizations can leverage, improve, and extend existing investments in workforce analytics and HCM applications.
To find out more about Oracle Endeca Information Discovery for workforce, join us at our upcoming webcast on January 29, 2013.  Click here to find out more (http://www.oracle.com/goto/workforceanalytics)

Friday May 18, 2012

The Art of the Possible with Business Analytics

It has been established beyond doubt that data and its analysis can have a huge impact on an organization’s top line and bottom line. Business Analytics helps organizations deliver better business performance in two ways – by optimizing business processes and by helping to innovate. Optimization helps organizations be efficient and effective by taking inefficiencies out of the business processes and focusing on the high impact opportunities. Innovation on the other hand helps organizations by uncovering new customer segments, new product categories, new markets, new business models etc.

The styles of analyzing data are many fold from answering questions like “what is going on?” to “why are the things the way they are?” to “what will happen if I do X or Y?” to “what does the future look like?” Broadly speaking the styles of analytics can be classified into three categories:

·         Exploratory Analysis: The objective of exploratory or investigative analysis is exploration and analysis of complex and varied data – whether structured or unstructured for information discovery.  This style of analysis is particularly useful when the questions aren’t well formed or the value and shape of the data isn’t well understood.

·         Descriptive Analytics: The objective of this style of analysis is to answer historical or current questions like what is going on. why are the things the way they are?. This is the most common style of analysis and here the questions as well as the value and shape of data are well understood.

·         Predictive Analysis: Predictive analysis aims at painting a picture of the future with some reasonable certainty.

So, what’s art of possible with business analytics? It’s the application of the above three styles of analytics to a business scenario for better insights, decisions and results. Let’s try and explain this with an example. Consider this scenario:

You are a Financial Services firm e.g. a large bank and are trying to improve profitability. You read Larry Seldon’s book titled “Angel Customers and Demon Customers” and agree with the findings that 20% of your top customers bring in 80% of the profits and would like to manage you business as a portfolio of customers as opposed to portfolio of products. So, how do you do that? The answer is business analytics.

You can start by using descriptive analytics techniques like operational reports, ad-hoc query, dashboards etc. on data collected from different sources like sales, customer service etc. to determine the profitability of each customer. You can then use predictive analysis techniques like data mining, statistical analysis to further enrich your customer data into profitability segments like high, medium, low and loss making customers. Finally, you can choose different customer service channels like personal banker, phone or ATM to cost effectively serve you customers e.g. a high profitability customer can be served by a personal banker free of charge but if the loss making customer wants a personal banker there will be a charge. Once you have implemented such programs you can use exploratory analysis to gauge the sentiment across social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to see if the programs are working as desired. Better yet you may come up with new innovative business models like mobile banking or online only banking to improve profitability.

That’s the art of possible powered by business analytics. Stay tuned, I intend to publish more examples from different industries to show the art of possible with business analytics.

Friday Apr 06, 2012

Does your analytic solution tell you what questions to ask?

Analytic solutions exist to answer business questions. Conventional wisdom holds that if you can answer business questions quickly and accurately, you can take better business decisions and therefore achieve better business results and outperform the competition. Most business questions are well understood (read structured) so they are relatively easy to ask and answer. Questions like what were the revenues, cost of goods sold, margins, which regions and products outperformed/underperformed are relatively well understood and as a result most analytics solutions are well equipped to answer such questions.
Things get really interesting when you are looking for answers but you don’t know what questions to ask in the first place? That’s like an explorer looking to make new discoveries by exploration. An example of this scenario is the Center of Disease Control (CDC) in United States trying to find the vaccine for the latest strand of the swine flu virus. The researchers at CDC may try hundreds of options before finally discovering the vaccine. The exploration process is inherently messy and complex. The process is fraught with false starts, one question or a hunch leading to another and the final result may look entirely different from what was envisioned in the beginning. Speed and flexibility is the key; speed so the hundreds of possible options can be explored quickly and flexibility because almost everything about the problem, solutions and the process is unknown. 
Come to think of it, most organizations operate in an increasingly unknown or uncertain environment. Business Leaders have to take decisions based on a largely unknown view of the future. And since the value proposition of analytic solutions is to help the business leaders take better business decisions, for best results, consider adding information exploration and discovery capabilities to your analytic solution. Such exploratory analysis capabilities will help the business leaders perform even better by empowering them to refine their hunches, ask better questions and take better decisions. That’s your analytic system not only answering the questions but also suggesting what questions to ask in the first place.
Today, most leading analytic software vendors offer exploratory analysis products as part of their analytic solutions offerings. So, what characteristics should be top of mind while evaluating the various solutions? The answer is quite simply the same characteristics that are essential for exploration and analysis – speed & flexibility. Speed is required because the system inherently has to be agile to handle hundreds of different scenarios with large volumes of data across large user populations. Exploration happens at the speed of thought so make sure that you system is capable of operating at speed of thought. Flexibility is required because the exploration process from start to finish is full of unknowns; unknown questions, answers and hunches. So, make sure that the system is capable of managing and exploring all relevant data – structured or unstructured like databases, enterprise applications, tweets, social media updates, documents, texts, emails etc. and provides flexible Google like user interface to quickly explore all relevant data.
Getting Started
You can help business leaders become “Decision Masters” by augmenting your analytic solution with information discovery capabilities. For best results make sure that the solution you choose is enterprise class and allows advanced, yet intuitive, exploration and analysis of complex and varied data including structured, semi-structured and unstructured data.  You can learn more about Oracle’s exploratory analysis solutions by clicking here.

Friday Mar 30, 2012

Consumer Oriented Search In Oracle Endeca Information Discovery - Part 2

As discussed in my last blog posting on this topic, Information Discovery, a core capability of the Oracle Endeca Information Discovery solution enables businesses to search, discover and navigate through a wide variety of big data including structured, unstructured and semi-structured data. With search as a core advanced capabilities of our product it is important to understand some of the key differences and capabilities in the underlying data store of Oracle Endeca Information Discovery and that is our Endeca Server. In the last post on this subject, we talked about Exploratory Search capabilities along with support for cascading relevance. Additional search capabilities in the Endeca Server, which differentiate from simple keyword based "search boxes" in other Information Discovery products also include:

The Endeca Server Supports Set Search. 
The Endeca Server is organized around set retrieval, which means that it looks at groups of results (all the documents that match a search), as well as the relationship of each individual result to the set. Other approaches only compute the relevance of a document by comparing the document to the search query – not by comparing the document to all the others. For example, a search for “U.S.” in another approach might match to the title of a document and get a high ranking. But what if it were a collection of government documents in which “U.S.” appeared in many titles, making that clue less meaningful? A set analysis would reveal this and be used to adjust relevance accordingly.

The Endeca Server Supports Second-Order Relvance.
Unlike simple search interfaces in traditional BI tools, which provide limited relevance ranking, such as a list of results based on key word matching, Endeca enables users to determine the most salient terms to divide up the result. Determining this second-order relevance is the key to providing effective guidance.

Support for Queries and Filters.
Search is the most common query type, but hardly complete, and users need to express a wide range of queries. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery also includes navigation, interactive visualizations, analytics, range filters, geospatial filters, and other query types that are more commonly associated with BI tools. Unlike other approaches, these queries operate across structured, semi-structured and unstructured content stored in the Endeca Server. Furthermore, this set is easily extensible because the core engine allows for pluggable features to be added.
Like a search engine, queries are answered with a results list, ranked to put the most likely matches first. Unlike “black box” relevance solutions, which generalize one strategy for everyone, we believe that optimal relevance strategies vary across domains. Therefore, it provides line-of-business owners with a set of relevance modules that let them tune the best results based on their content.
The Endeca Server query result sets are summarized, which gives users guidance on how to refine and explore further. Summaries include Guided Navigation® (a form of faceted search), maps, charts, graphs, tag clouds, concept clusters, and clarification dialogs. Users don’t explicitly ask for these summaries; Oracle Endeca Information Discovery analytic applications provide the right ones, based on configurable controls and rules. For example, the analytic application might guide a procurement agent filtering for in-stock parts by visualizing the results on a map and calculating their average fulfillment time. Furthermore, the user can interact with summaries and filters without resorting to writing complex SQL queries. The user can simply just click to add filters. Within Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, all parts of the summaries are clickable and searchable.

We are living in a search driven society where business users really seem to enjoy entering information into a search box. We do this everyday as consumers and therefore, we have gotten used to looking for that box. However, the key to getting the right results is to guide that user in a way that provides additional Discovery, beyond what they may have anticipated. This is why these important and advanced features of search inside the Endeca Server have been so important. They have helped to guide our great customers to success. 

Friday Mar 16, 2012

Consumer Oriented Search In Oracle Endeca Information Discovery – Part 1

Information Discovery, a core capability of Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, enables business users to rapidly search, discover and navigate through a wide variety of big data including structured, unstructured and semi-structured data. One of the key capabilities, among many, that differentiate our solution from others in the Information Discovery market is our deep support for search across this growing amount of varied big data. Our method and approach is very different than classic simple keyword search that is found in may information discovery solutions. In this first part of a series on the topic of search, I will walk you through many of the key capabilities that go beyond the simple search box that you might experience in products where search was clearly an afterthought or attempt to catch up to our core capabilities in this area. Lets explore.


The core data management solution of Oracle Endeca Information Discovery is the Endeca Server, a hybrid search-analytical database that his highly scalable and column-oriented in nature. We will talk in more technical detail about the capabilities of the Endeca Server in future blog posts as this post is intended to give you a feel for the deep search capabilities that are an integral part of the Endeca Server.


The Endeca Server provides best-of-breed search features aw well as a new class of features that are the first to be designed around the requirement to bridge structured, semi-structured and unstructured big data. Some of the key features of search include type a heads, automatic alphanumeric spell corrections, positional search, Booleans, wildcarding, natural language, and category search and query classification dialogs. This is just a subset of the advanced search capabilities found in Oracle Endeca Information Discovery.


Search is an important feature that makes it possible for business users to explore on the diverse data sets the Endeca Server can hold at any one time. The search capabilities in the Endeca server differ from other Information Discovery products with simple “search boxes” in the following ways:

The Endeca Server Supports Exploratory Search

Enterprise data frequently requires the user to explore content through an ad hoc dialog, with guidance that helps them succeed. This has implications for how to design search features. Traditional search doesn’t assume a dialog, and so it uses relevance ranking to get its best guess to the top of the results list. It calculates many relevance factors for each query, like word frequency, distance, and meaning, and then reduces those many factors to a single score based on a proprietary “black box” formula. But how can a business users, searching, act on the information that the document is say only 38.1% relevant? In contrast, exploratory search gives users the opportunity to clarify what is relevant to them through refinements and summaries. This approach has received consumer endorsement through popular ecommerce sites where guided navigation across a broad range of products has helped consumers better discover choices that meet their, sometimes undetermined requirements. This same model exists in Oracle Endeca Information Discovery. In fact, the Endeca Server powers many of the most popular e-commerce sites in the world.

The Endeca Server Supports Cascading Relevance.

Traditional approaches of search reduce many relevance weights to a single score. This means that if a result with a good title match gets a similar score to one with an exact phrase match, they’ll appear next to each other in a list. But a user can’t deduce from their score why each got it’s ranking, even though that information could be valuable. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery takes a different approach. The Endeca Server stratifies results by a primary relevance strategy, and then breaks ties within a strata by ordering them with a secondary strategy, and so on. Application managers get the explicit means to compose these strategies based on their knowledge of their own domain. This approach gives both business users and managers a deterministic way to set and understand relevance.


Now that you have an understanding of two of the core search capabilities in Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, our next blog post on this topic will discuss more advanced features including set search, second-order relevance as well as an understanding of faceted search mechanisms that include queries and filters.


 

Monday Feb 13, 2012

Expanding Our Business Intelligence Horizons

It is a real pleasure to start blogging here along side my new colleagues from Oracle after going thru the on-boarding process to become a new Oracle employee post the acquisition of Endeca by Oracle announced this past fall. Speaking for our entire team,  we are very excited to be part of the Oracle Business Intelligence product line and team. Its been an amazing adventure. We really appreciate all the support from our customers who have been huge advocate of what has been known as Endeca Latitude and now known as Oracle Endeca Information Discovery.

My goals with my blog posts are to share with you observations, perspectives and insight on the Data Discovery market and technology as well as our product and its capabilities. My style is to have a dialogue, tell a story, dig down into technical topics, use cases and bring you additional insight on the importance of Data Discovery. I hope you will enjoy reading these blog posts as well as others who are contributing to this blog.

If this is your first exposure to Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, you will find the various features and benefits of our product at this landing page on  oracle.com You will also find a data sheet that will walk you thru some of the core elements of our platform. This is a good starting point for getting oriented to our product line.

For my next post, I'll discuss some of the core use cases for Oracle Endeca Information Discovery. In the meantime, thanks again for visiting the blog.
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