BI Analysis in a Nutshell: Lyzasoft

In my previous post, Give BI to the Masses, I wrote about the strategies that have been implemented in some companies to empower more and more users to use business intelligence (BI) tools as part of their regular daily tasks.

This extends not only to decision makers and to those in charge of knowledge management,  but also to company-wide use. This has the potential to generate very different types of strategies; and thus (as with all innovations) will create the need to address other issues. Inevitably, it will also mean there are new requirements to be managed, including new data sources, and new or modified business processes and strategies. There will certainly be more people involved in the BI/business process management (BPM) processes of the organization. From a business perspective, this represents a great change.
Speaking of the mass use of BI tools, and part of what I consider another strategy to spread the organization-wide use of BI, recently I had the opportunity to watch a demo hosted by Melissa Risteff from Lyzasoft, a company that offers a BI product called Lyza. During our discussion, I had the opportunity to check out some of the product’s main features.

Lyza is what the vendor considers to be a “desktop data analysis solution.” It is an all-in-one data access, analysis, and reporting tool that comes in two flavors: Lyza, and Lyza Lite. Compatible with Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS Leopard, and Linux, Lyza is ready to be installed (out-of-the-box) on almost every desktop computer. With a friendly user interface, and based on its ease of use, it is possible to perform many tasks with a single click or a drag-and-drop process.

Lyza contains some of the overall features of common reporting and analytical tools to  enable easy creation of different types of reports: top-down, cross-tab, conditional, and drill-down/summary reports. They can then be exported to other types of formats (e.g., Excel, PDF, etc.), and the solution provides most common graphics and charts capabilities  (bars, columns, lines, and pie charts). Drilling and pivoting functions are also available. It’s also possible to easily create and edit indicators and metrics. Lyza generates metric lineage documentation to audit the overall analysis process. At this point, it’s BI as usual.

One of the things that makes Lyza interesting is that all extract, transform, and load (ETL) routines and report tools are incorporated under the same interface and smoothly integrated. Secondly, Lyza makes it very simple to connect to multiple sources, and creates transformation workflows in a very short period of time. It can then access the source directly and simply grab the table or file to be included. Data will be imported into the application, and incorporated from database tables and other sources with a single click (surprisingly, the loading times were very fast).

From there, it’s possible to start a transformation process to define reports, analytics, and so on. Lyza’s connections to all data sources are active only during the load process. All information is then transferred to the Lyza machine, where it is very easily refreshed with a single click. The amount of data stored will depend on the size of the computer where Lyza resides. You will also have mobile access with your laptop; with the ability to create reports and analytics directly in your meeting, for example.

Another service offered by Lyza is “Lyza Commons.” This service allows Lyza to work in a workgroup environment. However, this feature is currently only available for Windows.

In summary, this application seems to work well and opens another interesting approach to bringing BI tools to a greater variety of users.

Despite the fact that the application works well, there are some points to consider. Lyza does not take advantage of metadata. This means that if you do not have good knowledge of the data warehouse or the source of the information, it could be difficult to identify tables and files. There is no business-oriented description for the data, so unless your database tables are well described, you might be in trouble when trying to identify table names like  “x,” “y,” or “wkid.” Also, because of the “one product” orientation of the solution, there seems to be no integration with the office applications tools that are sometimes necessary.

Regardless of the pros and cons (which product doesn’t have them?), Lyza´s offer is an interesting proposal to close the gap between business analysts, IT managers, and operational users.

I welcome your thoughts—please feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
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