As we enter the era of smaller-faster-better of everything where the Hummer is giving way to the Hybrids, the large unwieldy camcorders giving way to small, pocket sized, flash memory based camcorder, the humongous hard disks giving way to the small, compact, high-capacity flash drives, there are many interesting strides being made in BI tools to cater to the ever voracious appetite of the business community for meaningful dashboards, predictive analytics and data mining.
With hardware and high-speed memory becoming very affordable in the last decade, BI tools have become more sophisticated and the large footprint, bulky BI tools of the last two decades have given way to more nimble, faster, in-memory tools. In-memory tools help business users analyze large volumes of data instantaneously on their desktops to see performance patterns, trending, outliers etc. and perform sophisticated what-if analysis, and mine data.
What does in-memory mean and how does it affect you?
Yes, everything that runs on your desktop or on your server has to reside in the memory (RAM), but the in-memory here specifically means the ‘data’ resides in-memory – empowering you to perform highly effective analysis on large volumes of data very rapidly. In traditional BI environments, a slow and laborious process was involved if you had to analyze say, five years of sales data to look at trending, Budget versus Actual or to perform a forecast based on trending. The CPU had to fetch data from the hard disk, cache it, and keep going back and forth to the disk for accessing additional sets of data to analyze. With in-memory tools, the same task is done more effectively and with blazing speed. The entire data is compressed in proprietary algorithms and stored in the memory of the desktop or servers, enhancing the effectiveness of users to run tens of what-if analysis, identify backcasts and forecasts based on the data trending.
This is a welcome relief to the data scientists, analysts and executives that require heavy data analysis done more effectively and efficiently. In-memory technology has also redefined the way dashboards are built for executives to monitor and manage their organizational performance. Dashboards can now be rendered on web-browsers seamlessly or on mobile devices, for the executive on the move.
As there are many tools out there, selecting the best tool for your current and future needs is key to your BI success. Talk to various vendors, read about tool capabilities, get a tool bake-off and last but not least, take the help of a vendor-neutral consultant out there, who can help you decide the best way to move forward and implement the needed BI successfully for you.
For comments and questions, please email Eashwar@cerebrateinc.com