January 30, 2017

Pentaho blog collection

Today, I just wanted to share my collection of Pentaho bloggers. So far this collection has been living in my browser's bookmark collection. I wanted to get it out there and ensure all these excellent blogs on Pentaho get read, re-read, and re-read again. 

If I forgot any one, drop me an email.  Privacy does not exist anymore these days, so I'm sure you'll find a way to contact me. I'll gladly add any missing links. If I missed anybody, please do not feel offended. And with that, before I go, here's the soundtrack for your blog reading. Enjoy!

January 12, 2017

Pentaho Colouring Book

While sifting through some old blog posts, I ran into this Pentaho 3.0 colouring book. Hilarious. And for any one who has every visited our Orlando offices or has been around since the early days, so very recognizable still. Maybe some things should remain in the past, but I really cannot help and need to share.

Original blog post available here on Doug Moran's blog. Or just download the full e-book here.

Enjoy !

January 2, 2017

(SW02) What's the story?

After we fixed the date issues in the standard Pentaho Steel Wheels demo, it is time to look at the next step in ensuring this demo is ready for prime time.

Every demo needs to have a good story line. Before you start showing your product to a prospect, you need to set the scene, explain the scenario, have a business story to tell. Read this, if you are not convinced.

So, what's the story behind Steel Wheels?  Turn on the music, and I'll share some thoughts.

What is in the box?

To my knowledge, there is little or rather no story available in the existing Community or Enterprise documentation. So we'll have to work with whatever is available. Here are the elements we can play around with to create ourselves a story:
  • SteelWheels is a company that sells and ships miniature (toy) cars. 
  • The sample database contains data for 2 years and 2 quarters
  • There are three different types of data
    • Order data
    • HR / Employee data
    • Inventory data
  • There are 4 persona's already set-up
    • Admin, who can see/do everything
    • Suzy, create rights, and sees all reports
    • Pat, read only, and sees all reports
    • Tiffany, read only, and sees all reports
  • We have the following set of reports, all dumped into 1 folder.
    • Operational type reports:
      • Buyer Report (sparkline report)
      • Income Statement
      • Inventory list
      • Invoice (report)
      • Vendor Sales Report (interactive report)
    • Analytical type reports:
      • Country Performance (heatgrid)
      • Sales Breakdown (CTools Dashboard)
      • Departmental Spending (bubble chart)
      • European Sales (geo map)
      • Leading Product Lines (pivot table)
      • Product Line Share by Territory
      • Product Sales
      • Sales Trend (multi chart)
      • Top 3 Customers
    • Dashboards
      • Regional Product Mix (dashboard)
      • Sales Performance (dashboard)
      • Territory Sales Analysis

Last but not least, we obviously want to illustrate in our demo, as much of Pentaho's product set, namely:

And that is all folks. Apart from the awesome Pentaho product set and some basic, reports/dashboards, we don't have a whole lot to go on. A problem? Nah.

Questions to get answered

Given the limited demo story available, we'll just have to come up with one. To do so, we have to try to answer the following questions:
  1. What/who is Steel Wheels? What to they sell, since when, where are they active? How did they get to the current point in time? What are their objectives?
  2. What are their current business challenges and pains. Who are the main persona's involved in resolving those business challenges and pains?
  3. What is their current IT architecture? What crucial IT projects are planned?
  4. How did they get in the current situation with regards to analytics, in casu having so little reports and dashboards in place? Do they have plans to evolve?
While I have the liberty of making up all the above for Steel Wheels and could have just posted context, I want to go through these questions with you? Why? Because preparing a product demo should always done within a business context that is relevant for your prospect. Without it, what purpose will your demo have? Without it, what is your demo trying to achieve? How will you connect with your customer? How will you convince him your product fits his needs?

A lot has been written on this topic, so rather than rehashing what has been written already, I'd recommend some reading on how to prepare for a product demo:

Keep it flexible nonetheless

Having stated the need for business context and making your demo relevant for your customer/prospect, I have also revealed the biggest challenge that lies ahead of us.  How can we make 1 demo, based on the same sample data set, that will cover any possible customer scenario will run into? In short, it is likely impossible. 

At Pentaho the sales and marketing teams know there is no one size fits all.

Looking at the Pentaho website, and specifically at the product page, you'll see that visitors are directed to a specific use case before drilling down into product functionality. The four main use cases are:

  • Traditional business analytics
  • Embedded analytics
  • Data integration
  • Big data 
And while there might be some commonalities between these 4, there are certainly a lot of differences too. Hence Pentaho are directing people to separate pages to talk them through different pieces of the product set that are relevant for them.

So where does this leave us?

Notwithstanding the clear challenge in building 1 demo that rules them all, over the next blog posts, I want to lay out a scenario that is adaptable and open as possible. Here is what I have in mind.

  1. Given the simplicity of the Steel Wheels data set, we'll likely start with standard business analytics, based on the data that is there.
  2. Next we can use some of Pentaho's data integration capabilities to extend the Sample Data to answer some more complex questions.
  3. Embedded analytics are something that we can add along the way, provided we have the right type of data that we can expose to a fictitious 3rd party, whether it's customers, suppliers, or any other B2B/B2C relationship.
  4. Finally, we can try to extend the demo by pulling in some typical unstructured, "big" data sources.
But before that, let's get back to our "business context". 

Company context

Below presentation is a a stab at some fictitious company background for Steel Wheels. Note that in the case of a real life demo you'll like replace this with some research into the company you are trying to pitch Pentaho to. I've captured this piece in slides (download available of ppt), rather than in text, because typically, you'll want to replay the Customer's requirements and position back to them or capture it for internal discussion.

I'm not providing too much text on the slides as I hope they speak for themselves.

Next blog post, we'll talk about how we can easily adapt the data to match your specific business context.


Download: Slides

Credits: Avatar pictures designed by Freepik

January 1, 2017