Really Simple BI or Even ATOMised BI

Anyone browsing the web today would have to be blind to not notice the explosion of Web 2.0 technologies and in particular the rapid uptake of RSS (Rich Site Summary or now popularly known as Really Simple Syndication) and ATOM feeds that are springing up everywhere. RSS and ATOM keep us informed of any changes to content that we have registered an interest in i.e. subscribed to. Modern day browsers support the ability to regularly check RSS and ATOM sites that you have subscribed to on a regular basis. Even MS Office 2007 Outlook can organise feeds like your email boxes to keep you sane and keep you organised on any new information that you are interested in. If you want you can download popular feed aggregators such as NewsGator (http://www.newsgator.com). What is interesting about this is how such feeds could relate to Business Intelligence. After all, so many of us want to know when a new version of a report is available, or subscribe to whenever a metric changes so that we are automatically notified about it. Of course many BI tools already support alerting of users when metrics change. \this can be done by email or on a dashboard for example. However with reports and dashboards all being published to the web these days it seems to me to be inevitable that BI vendors will add support for RSS feed or ATOM feed generation based on changes to BI metrics and BI content etc.

Where it has also major significance is in performance management. After all, being automatically kept up to date when metrics change, allows people to notice changes in performance and therefore take action if necessary. Being able to subscribe to be automatically notified of metrics changes via such a universally accepted and fast growing mechanism can only help business users manage the business better. Not only that but support for RSS and ATOM in BI content should allow is to distribute intelligence more widely and reach users who have either not got the time to use BI tools or are struggling with usability fears and confidence on BI tools. The integration of BI into portals is also pushing on this area because several new releases of portal products are also now allowing portal administrators to make any portal page they like into an RSS feed. Therefore as soon as BI (in the form of reports, scorecards, dashboards etc.) is published to a portal page, all subscribing users (assuming they are authorised) will get notified. I can see no reason to stop RSS Items or ATOM entries in theses feeds being new/changed BI metrics or BI documents (such as reports or dashboards).

 

It is also the case these days that search engines can search RSS and ATOM feeds which means that BI available through RSS and ATOM could be searched. Several BI vendors e.g. Hyperion, SAS, Business Objects and Cognos already have support for search engine integration in particular with Google and IBM. Business Objects recently expanded on this with their announcement of an Open Search Initiative that opens up partnerships with several other search engine and text analytics vendors.

 

If you are experimenting with RSS or ATOM and Business Intelligence or have already got something up and running in production, I and the rest of the readers on the B-EYE-Network would really like to here from you and benefit from your experiences. Let me know how you are using this and what technologies you are using. I would also like to hear from vendors on this topic.

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