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Source : Technology Evaluation Centers
The Race to Realization
is also known as :
Targit Platform Attractive
Business Intelligence Platform
Master Data Platform
Best Business Intelligence Software,
Business Application Platform,
Business Intelligence Platforms,
Business Intelligence Software,
Business Intelligence Software Products,
Business Intelligence Software Solution,
Business Intelligence Software Solutions,
Business Intelligence Software Tools,
Business Intelligence Softwares,
Compare Business Intelligence Software,
Consulting Management Platform,
Corporate Performance Management,
To survive in today's constantly changing business environment, you need to
be able to make decisions and take action quickly. To thrive in today's business
environment, you need to be able to make decisions and take action more quickly
than your competitors. This is the essence of what TARGIT offers: the ability to
identify business opportunities and challenges, and address them more quickly
than your competitors. TARGIT has achieved this by maintaining a laser-sharp
focus on the objective of identifying opportunities and challenges,
understanding what these mean for the business, and taking action to capitalize
on the opportunities and address the challenges.
Traditional business intelligence (BI) vendors
provide different solutions for different user groups that require different
data-access methods. There has been some effort in the marketplace to
consolidate these various methods of accessing and working with data to present
a single platform for all methods. The primary drivers for this, however, are to
provide a single platform for IT administrators to work with-thus reducing the
diversity of skills required, resulting in reduced workload-and for the customer
to have a single "throat to choke" for any commercial or technical issues. The
objective has not been to provide a single, seamless experience for a single
user to work with data in many different ways.
TARGIT is a company with a focus on providing a single, seamless experience
of working with data. Its approach to the challenge within BI has resulted in
one of the most homogenous platforms on the market. Its platform has two
distinct features: the seamless transition from one way of working with data to
another; and built-in "intelligence" within the platform. The combination of
these features results in what TARGIT describes as "the fastest way to better
As a result of this focus, the TARGIT BI platform is best suited to decision
makers within an organization. From the C-level executive to the production
manager, anybody that needs to understand the business environment and make
decisions or take action will benefit from the TARGIT BI platform.
The main BI areas that the TARGIT BI platform hasn't been designed to address
are production reporting-where hundreds of thousands or millions of reports need
to be produced (and potentially printed) in a short period of time; complex
reports-reports that need some complex data manipulation within the report, or a
custom (often graphical) layout; and embedded BI-applications that need
reporting or analytics as a part of the application. Given the maturity of the
TARGIT BI platform, these areas can be addressed to a point-and indeed, TARGIT
has customers using its platform to generate relatively complex reports for
thousands of users-but the platform has not been designed to address these BI
Colonel John Boyd was a US Air Force fighter pilot and military strategist in
the late twentieth century. He is well known for the "OODA
loop" (observe, orient, decide, and act) concept. The OODA loop is a
process that every one of us goes through before we take action. We observe the
environment, understand the context of the environment (i.e., the implications
of our observations, or orientation), decide on the action to take as a result
of the orientation, and then finally take this action. The results of the action
taken and the impact on the environment is fed back into the observation and
orientation phases of the next loop.
Boyd used the OODA loop to describe how to overcome an enemy in a dogfight
without the use of brute force. Essentially, his idea was that the key to
victory is to be able to create situations where one can make appropriate
decisions more quickly than one's opponent. If a fighter pilot can iterate
through this OODA loop faster than his opponent, he can make decisions faster,
keeping one step ahead of the enemy, causing confusion and ultimately
Companies need to focus on iterating through this OODA loop faster than ever,
not just to stay one step ahead of the competition, but also to adapt to a
business environment that is changing faster than ever.
TARGIT has focused all its efforts on one objective: to help companies
iterate through the OODA loop as quickly as possible. Appreciating the benefits
that the TARGIT BI platform delivers depends on appreciating this concept. In
this paper, we outline some of the methods TARGIT uses to achieve its objective.
Single, Seamless Platform
Virtually every BI vendor has some claim to a "single platform" for BI.
However, the vast majority of BI vendors use this single platform as the
foundation for disparate sets of BI technology that are targeted at different
types of user groups. They have the data mining tools for the analysts, the ad
hoc report development tools for the "techies" within the lines of business, the
dashboards for the executives, and so on. The "single platform" is just a
technology platform. Of course, this does have its advantages: a single vendor
to contact if something should go wrong, reduced investment in hardware, and one
set of IT skills to administer and maintain the platform, for example.
BI Objectives: User Groups versus OODA Loops
There are very few BI vendors that have a single platform with a single set
of seamlessly integrated BI tools. TARGIT is one of those vendors. The reason it
has a single, seamless BI platform is the primary objective of its product:
helping companies iterate through the OODA loop as fast as possible. Contrast
this with the primary product objective of the majority of BI vendors: to create
tools that address the information needs of the different user groups within an
organization. This inevitably leads to "siloed" BI solutions for different
groups. BI vendors will sometimes integrate an acquired technology into an
existing BI platform and continue to call it a "single BI platform." Clearly, it
is virtually impossible to seamlessly integrate an acquired technology that
addresses a completely different information user type (which is usually the
reason for the acquisition) into an existing BI platform.
Thinking of the way the TARGIT solution has evolved puts me in mind of Apple.
MP3 players existed before Apple introduced the iPod. Tools to rip CDs to MP3
files existed. PC software to play MP3 files existed. Apple's goal with the iPod
and iTunes was to make the entire process of listening to music on the move easy
and painless. Everything it did contributed to achieving that goal. From making
it easy to rip your CDs to files that can be transferred through the PC
application that "just worked" when it came to moving those files to your
portable music player, to creating a simple interface on the music player for
selecting the track you want to play, the entire "iPod/iTunes ecosystem" was
designed to do one thing: make it easy to listen to music on the move.
By setting the primary objective of its technology to "identify challenges
and opportunities and address them in the shortest time possible," TARGIT has
created a "BI ecosystem" that reduces the amount of effort required to iterate
through the OODA loop. I suspect that each new feature, version, and product is
tested with this question in mind: "how will this new feature/version/product
help reduce the time it takes to iterate through the OODA loop?" If there is no
good answer, the feature/version/product is not developed. The end result is
that TARGIT has created an extremely efficient platform for identifying
opportunities and taking advantage of those opportunities.
It just so happens that this platform also addresses the traditional BI
objective of fulfilling the needs of disparate user groups that the rest of the
BI industry is so focused on. There's dashboarding, data analysis, reporting,
calculations, alerts, what-if analysis, data mining, predictive analysis,
performance management, data sharing and enrichment, monitoring, workflow, and
distribution and communication of results. The key point, however, is that all
of these are very tightly integrated into a seamless BI environment that makes
the transition from one phase of the OODA loop to the next a trivial task. These
transitions feel like natural progressions rather than the usual jumping into
different tools to achieve different tasks.
Having a single platform that enables seamless transition from one "state" to
the next is a vast improvement over other, more traditional BI tools. Adding
intelligence into the platform just increases the speed with which analysis is
done and decisions are made. There are several areas of the TARGIT platform that
employ intelligent ways of working with data. These are described below.
The first manifestation of the in-built intelligence is in how the data
presentation is influenced by the data itself. Time data, for example, lends
itself to being presented in a graphical form well suited for trend analysis-bar
charts, area charts, or line charts. The amount of data determines how they are
presented, too. Data with few "categories" is automatically presented
graphically in charts. Data with many "categories" is presented in cross-tabs or
flat tables. Of course, this presentation can quickly and easily be changed by
the user-it just means that, in the majority of cases, there is one less step
for the user to take to get the data in the most appropriate format.
And if the user regularly uses a specific method of working with data, the
platform "learns" this and starts defaulting to this method for that user. For
example, financial controllers find that the default presentation of data
becomes multiple linked cross-tabs with drill-downs and links to
transaction-level data. Sales representatives, on the other hand, are presented
with bar charts, pie charts, and maps with color-coded dots or zip codes
representing their customers-even when viewing exactly the same data as the
financial controllers. Drill-down for the sales representatives is to the full
sales history for each customer. The financial controllers and sales
representatives may be working from the same data, but the fact that they have
different presentation requirements is understood by the TARGIT platform. Once
again, the platform reduces the number of steps a user has to take to reach
their objective. Drill-downs are not predefined, and so a user can become
completely immersed in the data, following paths-without restrictions-to reach a
TARGIT has a "TARGIT This" feature. This allows a user to drag an element (or
"measure") to a "TARGIT This" area of the interface in order to see details on
it. For example, a user is able to drag "Revenue" to the "TARGIT This" area to
get a default view of revenue over time, broken down by quarter. This is a
single click-and-drag action that provides immediate insight into the measure
that is of interest. Should the user be interested in the same measure broken
down by alternative dimensions, these dimensions can simply be dragged and
dropped into the analysis area. Within seconds, the user has a view of revenue
broken down by time, salesperson, and product.
Once the user has a view that is satisfactory, with two clicks it's possible
to create an intelligent agent that will provide an information alert when a key
performance indicator (KPI) changes within the underlying data. The data is then
constantly monitored, comparing it to the intelligent agents that have been set
up. Changes in the data that exceed the thresholds set in the intelligent agent
trigger an alert that can be sent to the Windows desktop client or via e-mail.
Structured data is only a part of what's needed to make an informed decision.
Data needs to be explained, backed up with experience, and complimented with
knowledge in order to be a reliable source for decision making. Currently, the
best source for answering the question "why is the data the way it is?" is other
human beings. TARGIT's Intelligent Search feature provides a way to link
explanations about the numbers to the numbers themselves. With a single click,
again, a search is performed on documents and e-mails, taking the current
context of the data as the source of the search.
Intelligence built into the BI platform in the areas of data presentation,
user behavior, data monitoring, and search contributes to the single objective
of the platform to iterate through the OODA loop more quickly than the
Innovation in BI
In addition to the seamless platform and in-built intelligence, there are
many innovative features within the TARGIT BI platform. Features that deserve a
mention include data filtering, information lineage, storyboards, sentinels, and
the desktop client.
Data filtering is a single-click action. Taking the above "TARGIT This"
example a step further, a user can focus on a specific quarter simply by
clicking on that quarter in the bar chart. This applies the quarter's filter to
both the salesperson breakdown and the product breakdown.
The TARGIT BI platform makes it so easy to navigate the data that, unless you
have a clear idea of where you're going or what it is you want to achieve, you
could lose yourself in the data. The platform has a solution to this, in the
form of the "Info-i." This is a pop-up box that describes the data in the pane
and the filters applied to that data. One of the most common questions from BI
users-even those that receive "regular" reports or analysis-is "what am I
looking at?!" Data that is presented in a logical way still needs to have its
lineage described. The Info-i is TARGIT's way of doing this.
Once a decision has been made and a plan put in place to resolve an issue or
take advantage of an opportunity, everyone that this decision affects needs
visibility of how the proposed changes are contributing to the goal. This is the
objective of the TARGIT storyboards. Storyboards provide an ongoing view to all
those contributing to the business objective.
Sentinels essentially alert you in advance to potentially obscure things that
are going to happen. They monitor the underlying data in real time, with the
sole objective of identifying trends and extrapolating to determine potential
upcoming issues. The sentinels do not restrict themselves to specific "domains,"
preferring instead to look at the entire data set as a whole to see how one area
has an impact on another seemingly unrelated area. They look for patterns in the
data and then report when they start to see a pattern re-occurring that has had
a negative result in the past. Sentinels enable business people to take
preemptive action to prevent the same negative result.
For business users to be able to take action as quickly as possible, they
must have instant access to the data. Having to interrupt your working flow to
check the status of the business in a Web browser-just in case it's reporting an
exception-is likely to result in a delayed response. The TARGIT desktop client
immediately alerts business users to any exception occurring in the underlying
data, based on intelligent agents that have been set up, enabling them to go
directly to that exception from within the Windows desktop environment.
Results and Benefits
The TARGIT platform can undoubtedly increase your competitive advantage. Even
if you already have a standard BI platform, the speed with which data can be
analyzed and "actioned" with the TARGIT BI platform would likely be worth the
The TARGIT BI platform enables you to identify challenges in advance, giving
you time to fully prepare for these. For example, having visibility of the fact
that customer call rates are likely to decrease allows you to staff the call
Overcoming the challenges that many BI users face in terms of being
restricted in what you can do with the data (and not understanding the meaning
of the data) results in faster decisions being made. With the TARGIT BI
platform, you are able to become "enveloped" in the data, without restriction,
enabling you to form a much more complete picture of the problem and potential
solutions. Compare this to many BI solutions where the user has many questions
outstanding after spending much longer trying to understand what the data means
and how to work around some of the limitations within the tool.
Faster decisions result in an increase in business agility and
competitiveness. You can be first to market with a new product. You can nip
problems in the bud before they sap resources from the company. You can take
preemptive action to ensure that your existing customers remain happy.
Being able to iterate through the OODA loop quickly ultimately results in
increased revenue, reduced cost and company growth.
TARGIT is the Apple of the BI industry. Apple focused on a single objective
("Make it easy to listen to music on the move") and created an entire integrated
ecosystem designed to achieve that objective-an ecosystem that includes the iPod
and iTunes. While other BI vendors focus on "extending BI to the masses" and
"providing targeted solutions for individual user groups," TARGIT is, like
Apple, focused on a single objective: "make it quick and easy to discover what
needs to be done, action it, and monitor it." TARGIT has created an entire BI
ecosystem designed to achieve this in the most efficient way possible.
About the Author
Russell Cooper is TEC's BI analyst. He has over 15 years of experience in the
enterprise software industry, and has a keen interest in how organizations
maximize the value of their existing data. During his career, Cooper has worked
exclusively for companies that have built their businesses around the storage,
movement, and retrieval of data-from electronic data
interchange (EDI) to BI, from fourth generation
language (4GL) application development to
geographic information systems (GISs). This experience has afforded
Cooper a broad perspective on data and data management.
Now based in Ireland, Cooper has a global perspective on business, having
worked in many countries including the UK, Australia, Denmark, and the US.