Infographic: 5 Signs You are in Excel Hell

Infographic: 5 Signs You are in Excel Hell

Check out this cool infographic! Submitted to by the folks at Business Intelligence Technologies. They’ve mapped here 5 warning signs that you and your professional team are living in Excel Hell. Perhaps it’s just been accepted that your Excel Hell is what it is, but we beg to differ. Professional teams overuse Excel, to a point way beyond what it was designed to do as a personal productivity tool. This fact has led to many technology and BI software vendors positioning themselves against Excel as if it is something to be removed. Sacrilege, cry the users!  And us too!  People responsible for planning in particular, need the flexibility that Excel provides and find almost any other tool too rigid.  (See the Wall Street Journal article: Finance Pros Say You’ll Have to Pry Excel Out of Their Cold, Dead Hands) So, if Excel is essential, how do we get free from Excel Hell?

For further reading, see the blog on this topic on the Business Intelligence Technologies website.

Boost Your Business Intelligence Career With Data Science

Boost Your Business Intelligence Career With Data Science

By Jennifer Marley

Every day the world generates more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. Many companies do not know what to do with this influx of data, and therefore hire people with specialized skills to collect, store, process, analyze, and develop business intelligence and actionable solutions based on this information. These people are known as data scientists, and the demand for the job title is extremely high. According to research by LinkedIn, data science and machine learning jobs are the hottest and most in-demand career paths in the world. Six out of the top 15 emerging jobs are related to data science skills and an estimated 2.7 million job postings for data analytics and data science are projected by 2020. The world is shifting, and businesses are no longer looking simply for business intelligence analysts, but rather modelers, mathematicians, engineers and scientists who can turn data into actionable information. Data scientists hold some of the most sought-after positions in the world, and if you want to boost your business intelligence or graduate career, it’s important that you boost your resume with big data.

Benefits Of A Career In Big Data

Big data has been a hot buzz word in business for the past couple of years. Big data jobs are very lucrative and pay more than a typical business intelligence job. With a career in data science, a new graduate can expect to make about $20,000 more than a typical business intelligence analyst and generally earn about $95,000 to $165,000 a year. The starting salary is extremely high for graduates and can definitely help you deal with past financial commitments, start a new life, and even start a family. These jobs tend to be at the top tier of business, making it easier to be promoted to the highest levels of your organization. Not only will you make more money and move faster up the ladder, but you’ll also be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology. A career in data science exposes you to the latest in technology and allows you to constantly boost your resume. Furthermore, data science expands past the realm of business. If you leave the world of business, your skills will transfer to a great many other jobs: from law enforcement to the medical field, every career uses data and needs a way to understand and analyze it.

New Developments In Data Science That Will Boost Your Resume

Since data science is still a fairly new field, the skills and needs associated with the role are ever-changing. The data evolution is rapidly evolving, and you need to ensure you’re up-to-date with the most in-demand skills. In 2019, the focus of data science is expected to home in on bringing the digital world into the physical world. Self-service business intelligence dashboards are all the rage, and therefore you’ll need to learn tools such as Tableau, Qlik Sense, Power BI, and Domo. Companies simply want to cut out the business analyst and have data scientists provide them with a real-time dashboard that can deliver information about sales and tell a story about the company’s progress instantaneously. Furthermore, mobile dashboards are expected to be in greater demand over the next year, which will require data scientists to focus on mobile app and development experience. Lastly, the R programming language will also make a huge impact in 2019. R scripts can be audited, and are easily rerun by business managers, creating replicable and valuable analysis. The R language is also strong in supporting machine learning, which is expected to reign supreme in the world of data science and business analytics in the coming year and beyond.

Skills That You No Longer Need To Focus On

Once upon a time, Hadoop was the hottest tool for a data scientist. It was the ultimate answer to storing and processing big data. However, based on cost and complexity, a lot of businesses are shying away from the once popular tool. Now, Hadoop is serving as a storage repository for processing ETL batch workloads rather than for interactive, user-facing applications. Instead, data scientists are focusing on Hadoop alternatives such as Apache Spark, Apache Storm, Google BigQuery, Hydra, Ceph, and DataTorrent RTS. Although Hadoop isn’t expected to completely disappear, you should focus your time and energy on learning these new alternatives as Hadoop will likely become consigned to a niche and legacy system in the future.

A career in data science will set you apart from the rest in the field of business intelligence . With so many new graduates attempting to enter the business world, you will need a leg up, and big data is the way to go. As companies get further into the digital world and harness more and more data, you’ll become an essential member of any team and a highly sought-out individual. In general, a career in data science is the number one ingredient in a recipe of success in business intelligence.

EPM in the Cloud—Overcoming the Resistance

EPM in the Cloud—Overcoming the Resistance

By Jack Guarneri


In the far distant past (OK, just a few years ago) prospects would balk at the idea of EPM in the Cloud. Putting key company information, like the kind contained in an EPM solution, into the Cloud was considered too risky. Things sure have changed: the Cloud, as a means to do everything—from data storage, to playing music, to business application hosting—is as much a part of our technology ecosystem as the phones in our hands and the laptops on our desks. Along with this, firms have become dramatically more willing to use a subscription model for the purchase and management of (cloud) solutions. Indeed, “cloud-based” and “subscription service” have come to mean pretty much the same thing in respect to business applications.

Here’s some hard evidence concerning how in-the-cloud business systems have gained acceptance: Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) applications, grew by 61 percent year over year in Microsoft’s Q4.

And yet…there seems to be a lagging sector of the market, where the Cloud is not so prominent: applications related to Enterprise Performance Management (EPM). That’s the umbrella term for mission-critical, collaborative solutions for budget planning, forecasting, consolidations, “what if” analyses—in sum, precisely the kinds of things that firms around the world mash-up in massive and ghastly spreadsheet-only models.

It’s this very fact—“the Excel-ness” of these tasks—that may hold the key for explaining why the Cloud hasn’t caught up. It’s also a great argument for why a cloud-based subscription service makes the most sense for the EPM market, like what Business Intelligence Technologies offers.

Let’s first briefly examine why “EPM in the Cloud” makes great sense. These are arguments for cloud-based services for all kinds of business applications—but we’ll touch on their relevance to EPM-in-the-cloud in particular:

  • Lower cost – risk mitigation — By definition, a subscription service concerns payment spread over time, rather than—with a typical on-premise system—made entirely up front; you might even get an offer to obtain consulting services baked into the fixed monthly cost. And though you are likely be required to sign up for, say, 12 months minimum, if things go south, you won’t be tied to a fully purchased albatross. Looking at it more optimistically: for EPM cloud solutions, you’ll learn, at a minimum, to get an expert’s insight on at least one component of your EPM eco-system, which you can build on by adding complexity, often an enticing incremental cost.
  • Security — If any kind of business application is crying out for a centralized, secure database—almost certainly more secure in the Cloud than on laptops or your LAN—it’s an EPM system. Businesses now understand that they stand to gain by losing the thousands of disparate files, so often emailed, frequently out of sync and always at risk.
  • Maintenance/Efficiencies — owners of on-premise solutions are loath to upgrade, and for good reason: it’s a pain, and it can be costly to “own”; in the Cloud, your service provider will handle this for you. And whether it’s an end to managing software, or corralling spreadsheets, you get to free yourself from desktop data silos, obtaining resource-hours for analytical purposes, which are the true objective of your EPM system

But that Nagging Excel-ness…and the DIY Instinct for EPM Solutions

And yet, even with those arguments, we have the seeming mystery—why is the Cloud not as popular for EPM as it is, say, for ERP?

Here again, as so often is the case with EPM, we can likely look to Excel to lay the blame. For it is the nature of the inveterate spreadsheet user—and the more expert, the more it’s in his or her nature—to want to “do it yourself” in Excel. Insofar as EPM applications are concerned, it’s more likely than not that a spreadsheet jockey will “set up a new tab,” “create an input template” or “jigger with these VLOOKUPS” to add to what is already a cobbled-together solution.

EPM solutions are composed of what we might describe as an ongoing series of spreadsheet-like complexities—involving drivers, user inputs, premises, calculations—all the kinds of things that attract the DIY instinct of spreadsheet pros. Contrast that with ERP , a business process system concerned with recording transactions at the most detail level of the business. An EPM application, on the other hand, concerns higher-order outputs: planning, analytics, non-standard reporting.

The “resistance”—and that probably is a fair way of putting it—to EPM in the Cloud is the resistance of users to abandon a DIY mindset of solving problems with that trusty, and often the only, tool at hand: Excel.

Happily, for Excel users, there’s a way forward—solutions that embrace both Excel and the Cloud.

And for firms thinking about the potentialities of the Cloud as a viable solution for their EPM requirements, that should be the first order of business: finding vendors with the best suite of front-end tools—with Excel at the very top of the list—not just to overcome user resistance, but also to incorporate all their “spreadsheet smarts” in a top-flight EPM solution.

How Data Management Platforms Can Help Marketers Promote Business Growth

How Data Management Platforms Can Help Marketers Promote Business Growth

By Jennifer Marley

Consumers are increasingly picky about the advertisements they see and the products they buy, and it’s no wonder: the global amount of data is growing rapidly every day, as over 4 billion internet users generate thousands of gigabytes per second. In response, businesses are looking to create personalized messages to retain clients and attract new customers – all of which requires concerted data management. In fact, over 40% of companies plan to expand their budgets for data-driven marketing, according to a report by eMarketer. Not to mention, big data and business analytics software are expected to reach $200 billion in revenue by 2019.

With 78% of marketers saying that data management platforms (DMP) are embedded in the overall success of a business marketing campaign, there is no denying that this concept is gaining more attention. So, are you ready to use this strategy in your own company? Here’s how data in digital marketing can promote business growth.

Role of Data Management Platforms in Digital Marketing

A data management platform consumes data, organizes it, and provides many functionalities. For digital marketers, DMP caters to online activity behavior, purchasing data, marketing campaign data, third-party enrichment data, and so on.

  • Market Segmentation – The core functionality of data management is to match user profiles from multiple sources to build market segments. This creates the necessary bridge between the marketing technology ecosystem of CRM (Customer Relationship Management), e-commerce, CMS (Content Management System), marketing automation, and the advertising technology ecosystem of data exchange, SSP (Supply-side Platform), DSP(Demand-side Platform), and publishers.
  • Media Buying and Optimization – Most companies use DMP to address the two main issues of targeted media and buying. One of the most valuable skills in digital marketing is the ability to target the right audience by relating behavioral segments to purchasing platforms derived from analyzing online user profiles. Data management allows users to take advantage of analytics and tracking capabilities needed to optimize ad spend. Through cross-channel and attribution modeling, the results provide significant savings for advertisers who tend to overspend on their budget.

Benefits of DMP for Your Business

Data Management Platforms help businesses process and manage the information along with new opportunities. By implementing DMP in your business, the platform can help you by offering the following:

  • Gathering data in one platform – Data Management Platforms allow brands to collect data from their own sources and from partners. Through attributes and events, you can build a proper data management platform and collect information from user activity.
  • Gain customer insights – Without enough data from the audience, you cannot design a proper customer journey. Customer data allows marketers to tailor campaigns that speak to each niche. In fact, marketers that exceed their revenue goals used personalization techniques 83% of the time in 2017, based on a survey by Monetate.
  • Use 3rd party data to discover new markets – A strong advantage of data management is gaining access to third-party information, which is data from internet users that spans more than two hundred markets worldwide. It allows digital marketers to discover new markets by using high-quality user profiles that include basic interests, purchase intentions, and demographic information.

When you take time looking into the details of your business growth and success, the opportunities that you can find are almost as valuable as the service itself. Good data analytics combined with a digital marketing plan are the tools you need for the growth of your business now and in the future.

Data Virtualization Is Absolutely Critical. Here’s Why…

Data Virtualization Is Absolutely Critical. Here’s Why…

Data Virtualization is a process that gathers and integrates data from multiple sources, locations, and formats to create a single stream of data without any overlap or redundancy.

Data Virtualization innovation is helpful, in our world of non-stop data transmission and high-speed information sharing, as a tool  to aid in collecting, combining, and curating massive amounts of data.

With big data analytics, companies can locate revenue streams from existing data in storage, or they can find ways to reduce costs through efficiency. However, this is easier said than done. IT companies generally have multiple, dissimilar sources of information, so accessing that data can be time consuming and difficult. Data virtualization systems can help.

Companies that have implemented data virtualization software have better, quicker integration speeds and can improve and quicken their decision-making.

What is Data Virtualization

Data virtualization (DV) creates one “virtual” layer of data that distributes unified data services across multiple users and applications. This gives users quicker access to all data, cuts down on replication, reduces costs, and provides data flexible to change.

Though it performs like traditional data integration, DV uses modern technology to bring real-time data integration together for less money and more flexibility. DV has the ability to replace current forms of data integration and lessens the need for replicated data marts and data warehouses.

Data virtualization can seamlessly function between derived data resources and original data resources, whether from an onsite server farm or a cloud-based storage facility. This allows businesses to bring their data together quickly and cleanly.

How Virtualization Works

Most people who use IT are familiar with the concept of data virtualization. Let’s say you store photos on Facebook.  When you upload a picture from your personal computer, you provide the upload tool with the photo’s file path.

After you upload to Facebook, however, you can get the photo back without knowing its new file path. Facebook has an abstraction layer of DV that secures technical information. This layer is what is meant by data virtualization.

When a company wants to build Virtual Data Services, there are three steps to follow:

  • Connect & Virtualize Any Source: Quickly access disparate structured and unstructured data sources using connectors. Bring the metadata on board and create as normal source views in the DV layer.
  • Combine & Integrate into Business Data Views: Integrate and transform source views into typical business views of data. This can be achieved in a GUI or scripted environment.
  • Publish & Secure Data Services: Turn any virtual data views into SQL views or a dozen other data formats.

Once a DV environment is in place, users will be able to accomplish tasks using integrated information. A DV environment allows for the search and discovery of information from varied streams.

  • Global Metadata: Global information search capability lets users access data through any format from anywhere in the world.
  • Hybrid Query Optimization: Allows for the optimization of queries, even with “on-demand pull and scheduled batch push data requests.”
  • Integrated Business Information: Data virtualization brings users integrated information while hiding the complexity of accessing varied data streams.
  • Data Governance: DV layer serves as a unified layer to present business metadata to users. Simultaneously, it helps to understand the underlying data layers through data profiling, data lineage, change impact analysis and other tools and expose needs for data normalization / quality in underlying sources.
  • Security and Service Level Policy: All integrated DV data views can be secured and authenticated to users, roles and groups. Additional security and access policies can  manage service levels to avoid system overuse.

Data Virtualization Tools

The various capabilities that Data Virtualization delivers offers companies a newer, faster method of obtaining and integrating information from multiple sources. The top tools currently in use are as follows:

  • Logical abstraction and decoupling
  • Enhanced data federation
  • Semantic integration of structured & unstructured data
  • Agile data services provisioning
  • Unified data governance & security

These capabilities cannot be found organized in any other integration middleware. While IT specialists can custom code them, that minimizes the agility and speed advantages DV offers.

Data Virtualization creates many benefits for the companies using it:

  • Quickly combine multiple data sources as query-able services
  • Improve productivity in IT and by business data users (50%-90%)
  • Accelerate time-to-value
  • Improve quality and eliminate latency of data
  • Remove the costs associated with populating and maintaining a Data Warehouse
  • Significantly reduce the need for multiple copies of any data
  • Less hardware infrastructure

While this innovate new path to data collection and storage offers increased speed and agility, it is important to note what DV is not meant to be.

What Data Virtualization is Not

In the business world, particularly in IT, there are buzzwords flying about in marketing strategies and among industry analysts. It is therefore important to make note of what Data Virtualization is not:

  • Data visualization: Though it seems similar, visualization is the physical display of data to users graphically. Data virtualization is middleware that streamlines the search and collection of data.
  • A replicated data store: Data virtualization does not copy information to itself. It only stores metadata for virtual views and integration logic.
  • A Logical Data Warehouse: Logical DWH is an architecture, not a platform. Data Virtualization is technology used in “creating a logical DWH by combining multiple data sources, data warehouses and big data stores.”
  • Data federation: Data virtualization is a superset of capabilities that includes advanced data federation.
  • Virtualized data storage: VDS is database and storage hardware; it does not offer real-time data integration or services across multiple platforms.
  • Virtualization: When used alone, the term “virtualization” refers to hardware virtualization — servers, networks, storage disks, etc.

Myths and Inaccuracies

As with every new innovation in technology, there will always be myths and inaccuracies surrounding implementation.

We don’t need to virtualize our data – we already have a data warehouse.
The sources of unstructured data increase every day. You can still use your data warehouse, but virtualization allows you to tie in these new sources of data to produce better information and a competitive advantage for your business.

Implementing new data technology isn’t cost effective.
Data virtualization software costs are comparable to building a custom data center. DV also does not require as many IT specialists to use and maintain the system.

Querying virtual data can’t perform like physical data queries.
With the constant innovation and improvement of computing platforms, faster network connections, processor improvements, and new memory storage, virtualization software can process queries with multiple unconnected data sources at near real-time speeds.

Data virtualization is too complex.
When something is new in technology, humans have the tendency to question it based on their own lack of experience. Most virtualized software is easy enough to be used by geeks and laymen alike.

The purpose of data virtualization is to emulate a virtual data warehouse.
While DV can work this way, it is more valuable when data marts are connected to data warehouses to supplement them. “The flexibility of data virtualization allows you to customize a data structure that fits your business without completely disrupting your current data solution.”

Data virtualization and data federation are the same thing.
Data federation is just one piece of the full data virtualization picture. Data federation can standardize data stored on different servers, in various access languages, or with dissimilar APIs. This standardizing capability allows for the successful mining of data from multiple sources and the maximizing of data integration.

Data virtualization only provides limited data cleansing because of real-time conversion.
This is a claim that can be made about any number of data query software programs. It is best to clean up system data natively rather than burden query software with transformation of data.

Data virtualization requires shared storage.
Data virtualization is quite versatile. It allows you to build customized storage devices for your system needs.

Data virtualization can’t perform as fast as ETL.
Through data reduction, data virtualization performs more quickly than ETL. “Operations perform at higher speeds because the raw data is presented in a more concise method due to compression, algorithmic selection and redundancy elimination.”

Data virtualization can’t provide real-time data.
DV sources are updated live instead of providing snapshot data, which is often out of date. “It is closer to providing real-time data and faster than other data types that have to maintain persistent connections.”

Why Do We Need Virtualization?

Data is transferred among users in different speeds, formats, and methods. These variables make Data Virtualization a must have in the global business world. DV will help companies search, collect, and integrate information from various users, platforms, and storage hubs much more quickly. This will save the company time and money.

Data Virtualization is perfect when data demands change on the fly and when access to real-time data is critical to positive business outcomes. DV also provides you with access to any data storage system you are currently using. Despite the differences in storage platforms and systems, DV will allow you to integrate all the material in a single model.

Data Virtualization offers help in security challenges because the data is not transferred – it is left at the source as DV provides virtual access from anywhere. This is also cost-effective as you will not be duplicating any data.


As we move further into the technical age of global systems, the need for Data Virtualization becomes clear. Access to information across platforms, languages, and storage types will precipitate a faster and more useful transfer of data that everyone can use.

The future is here. The future is now.


5 Sectors Big Data Will Continue to Disrupt in 2018

5 Sectors Big Data Will Continue to Disrupt in 2018

Big data is a modern technology that captures huge amounts of data, which is then analyzed in order to reveal patterns and trends. Organizations need to transform what they have gathered into business insights that promote growth.

Across business in general, there are 5 sectors that are intelligently using big data to improve their operations and connect with customers better.


By using big data, fashion industry moguls can predict when there is a market for businesses to carry certain products. Big data gives them the opportunity to stop the manufacturing of some items, and focus on the products that sell well.

According to researchers, big data presents fashion companies with opportunities to engage businesses and markets through effective content on social media. The leading fashion brands use comments on social media and turn them into engaging conversations, thereby increasing their global presence and at the same time gathering necessary data for future analysis of patterns and trends. Fashion designers and magazine publishers are constantly producing innovative fashion content to attract customers. This allows them to collect the data received from the different content outlets and see how the fashion industry is changing.

Market Intelligence

If marketing-based businesses are driven by analytics, then market intelligence groups are the engines of it all. Big data and analytics are on a whole new level today, creating vast new opportunities for company leaders. The last few years have seen a huge increase in the quantity of data available from different sources including mobile phones, social media, and transactional data from people’s online behavior. Only businesses that are based on good research can minimize operational risks, as well as pursue profitable opportunities for growth. Fortunately, market intelligence groups now have the tools, approaches, and talent, in order to turn gathered data into a competitive advantage. Market intelligence can either make businesses realize their potential or advise them against unrealistic expectations.

Customer Intelligence

Data is the basis of any customer intelligence group. Today’s businesses are generating huge amounts of data through several channels, which include online stores, kiosks, sales offices, and even call centers. In addition, organizations are now using customer and prospect data in order to generate information through reseller and advertising networks. This year, customer intelligence organizations can gain insights by integrating views of the aforementioned sources with different target markets. Customer intelligence groups are now developing strategies for accessing and integrating customer data into making big business decisions.

Read more about how Marketing Intelligence and Customer Intelligence provide powerful ways to strategize, ensure customer satisfaction, and continued growth


Bloomberg claims that the global financial industry has evolved enormously over the past decade in terms of investments and trading. The sheer volume of financial data is constantly growing, which has a direct impact on the value of different assets that can be traded online. These assets include currencies, cryptocurrencies, commodities, indices, stocks, and options. The information contained in big data can greatly improve the way investment and trade indicators are gathered and used.

Big data has been a crucial step for advancements in online trading. Without big data, online trading platforms are unable to create solutions that would ease the everyday activities of traders. Nadex states that people can now perform transactions on a regulated US-based exchange, as well as trade on different markets using just one account on a computing device. It’s thanks to big data that the financial industry can expand their solutions, as well as improve their offerings based on their customers’ needs. Big data is a huge step towards the development of investment and trade, and it will further propel the industry towards positive changes this year.

Data Integration

Big data integration is the combination of technology and business procedures used for synthesizing data from dissimilar sources. A complete data integration solution must deliver trusted data from different sources.

With a high volume of sensor and social data being generated every day, it is now critical for data scientists to make large amounts of information available for analytics and consumption. Data must not only be gathered, but its accuracy must also be assured. The powerful and far-reaching data integration of several digital frameworks will help this idea materialize in 2018.


Businesses are becoming more digital than ever which means data are being gathered by organizations in gigabytes. Utilizing data can provide leaders with unexpected information that lead to unconventional yet successful business strategies. While some industries are already taking advantage of the insights that big data provide, we can only expect more and more enterprises to join the data revolution as businesses become more competitive.