Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Treading Water, Sharks Circling

This post is brought to you by my long time teammate and good friend Doug Mack. Besides his many other areas of expertise, Doug leads the business intelligence / analytics portion of our DB2 for i Center of Excellence.


It seems like sharks are everywhere in the news these days, with all the reported sightings and of course the Sharknado movies (an interesting concept by the way!). The data centric world is like that too... sometimes you get the feeling of being chased by "data sharks"!

It occurs to me that if you are your company’s “go to person” for data (think urgent RPG coder or Query/400 report writer), you’re probably doing all you can to keep swimming faster than the business analyst “sharks” requesting that slab of data! While it's completely understandable that the analysts urgently need this data to sense what's going on in the business, you’re just trying to keep your head above water.  

It doesn’t have to be this way. While it might take some disciplined project planning and work to get there, you can alleviate YOUR workload and create an environment that either allows end users to run their own reports whenever they want (this can be called “Self Service BI”) or you can automate the execution and publishing of reports and dashboards, including visualization on their handheld device of choice. Now you can sit back on the beach with a tropical umbrella drink while the sharks wander off.

Trying to tackle data analysis has been around since, well, Query for the System 36! But in our team’s experience, many folks are still sinking under the burden of older tools and processes that prevent the kind of buoyancy and agility required to meet business demands. Lacking a suitable budget for big bang projects doesn’t help either.

To this end, IBM introduced DB2 Web Query some time ago. While it’s true you can use it to modernize and re-engineer your Query/400 reports - that is really underselling Web Query’s capabilities. You can not only create that self-service environment and streamline report publishing; you can also address data transformations that exploit this tool at a whole new level. With the introduction of DB2 Web Query DataMigrator ETL Extension, clients can now automate the often difficult task of consolidating, transforming, and optimizing the data for business intelligence applications. This supports the creation of a data mart or data warehouse that completely isolates and secures the data.  In many of the client situations we encounter, the data anomalies that make analytics difficult can be simplified with a data mart architecture and ETL (Extract, Transformation, and Load) tool.

Did you know that since 2008 IBM has shipped at least a limited use license of DB2 Web Query to almost every IBM i customer. But in many cases, those licenses are still at Version 1 of the product, which was essentially replaced with Version 2 in 2012. And just recently, IBM introduced the latest version, 2.1.1. In other words, you very likely own licenses to an older version of Web Query, but you’re missing out on some tremendous enhancements, including wizard analytics, geographical map visualizations, personal dashboards, mobile device support, and the aforementioned DataMigrator ETL extension.

Want to get some shark repellent? Why not take a look at some of the features of DB2 Web Query V2.1.1, and learn how to create that optimized “self service” environment to keep the frenzied school at bay!

To learn more about V2.1.1, check out the end user and wizard analytics video demonstrations here.

To find out how to acquire, install, and set up the product, you can also view the set of getting started videos on that same wiki page! 


Thanks Doug! And let me add, if you are interested in making a difference with data sooner than later, consider setting up that sandbox I talked about.

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