Right off of the bat, I have to admit that the full first night sleep in a plush, oversized bed was divine. It was so refreshing that the first thing that I did on this Sunday morning here in Beijing was head to the gym for an hour on the treadmill. This may have been my mental demise for the rest of the day as with my biological clock not necessarily in check, I started to fade fast throughout the day.
I met up with my cousin, Liz (and her friends) quite early in the day. Crazy to think that one of my relatives was out here for a fun trip, but very cool to have the opportunity to see the city together.
At 10am I was in the Silk Market being accosted by hoards of Chinese women pushing silk scarves and an assortment of fake products at me. Usually I would be invigorated at the frenzy of negotiation and noise, but today I was tired, …reserved, and overly passive. I just kind of smiled at it all. I wanted so bad to hit the watch counter – but I could not muster the strength to bargain.
Liz had been here for over a week and was in the throngs of it all. Her and her friend Ali were playing off one another to grab better and lower deals. They did well. Yet I could do better. I was the master at this . Yet for some reason, I was DOA.
We toiled around a bit more in the market and then hightailed it to their other friend’s apartment and then off to the local food market.
This food market was a new experience for me.
I have been to open air markets around the world – from domestic farmers markets in Pennsylvania and North Carolina to famous markets in Greece, Spain and Singapore. Two things stood out for me in this market that surprised me.
- The amount of beautiful fresh produce that I would not have expected for a Beijing market. Absolutely beautiful array of colors and selection of fruits and vegetables. Add to that the stalls that had fresh noodles. (durian and mangosteens in full effect – still need to try them both… Hopefully Nanning will deliver)
- The lack of refrigeration for the meat shops. Birds, beef, pork and lamb were opened up, butchered and spread across wooden counters… Fresh, yes – looked great. Yet, the shelf life had to be about 24 hours. It was warm in there and I had to keep forcing my self to forget that I most likely would be noshing on food that was butchered and sold in this manner. It was cool to see blue hens on display (random)
I unfortunately have no pictures of the establishment, but we hit up a dumpling house for a late lunch snack. Phenomenal. I’m actually craving the condiments more than anything else – Fresh garlic, dried chili in oil and an assortment of soy and vinegar to douse in. After the dumpling orgy, we hit up a Chinese shoe store. I looked and looked and could not find an 12 or 12 and ½ size shoe anywhere in sight. Crazy women’s shoes galore, but no Men’s past the 10 or 11 mark. (I would have to import my shoes if I lived here)
A great close to the night was a trip for some Peking Duck. Years ago when I was in Beijing, we visited Li Qun for a rustic, yet delicious meal. This place (name missing) was on the spot as well. An actual highlight was the Chinese eggplant – I could swear the there was Ketjap Manis in it (Sweet Soy Sauce). All in all a great meal and a great night – with locally brewed Swartzbier to boot (another killer highlight).
As I wished my cousin good bye (her trip had come to an end) I started to get that feeling I was expecting from the start. It’s great to have family and friends when you head out on a trip, but it does add to the withdrawal when you hang out with them when you first land for a day. You get used to having camaraderie – and then hits harder when you walk out in the street and realize that you are the outsider. You understand that you are alone.
Heading to Nanning with the CSC crew will most likely curb this feeling – but it is important to point out. Taking the subway to the office alone in Beijing during rush hour is a different kind of experience. The sheer number of people is one thing, the fact that you yourself are the spectacle is another.
As stated in the last travel post, you have to learn how to adapt pretty quick here. I have been fortunate enough to have been reading Scott Seligman’s book “Chinese Business Etiquette’ before and during this trip. This has saved me a number of times already – and I will most likely quote certain sections over the next month.
It’s closing in on mid-late week and I have a moving meeting with a major business partner – as well as a presentation/seminar with the local team here in Beijing. Day one felt long, yet now that I have become a bit more comfortable, I sense the days just whizzing by. I’ll try and post prior to leaving for Nanning and my CSC assignment on Friday, yet the next two days are chocked full of work activities so not really sure at this point. Time to clock off.
In postscript – Uber fast internet at the hotel here has allowed for great video chat (FaceTime) with the family. This is something rather new to me travelling internationally (quality of it all) and it totally reduces the strain of being away. I surely hope that this works for the time in Nanning as well.
At the Gartner conference last week, we had breakfast with analyst Merv Adrian. As it was the day of announce for our InfoSphere Warehouse 10 and DB2 10 offerings much of our discussion rallied around some of the new features. One key area that we spent time on was that of the newly incorporated ‘Time Travel Query’. Merv’s recommendation was to leverage a Dr. Who theme at our yearly Information on Demand Conference and to be honest, I think that would be an awesome idea.
The Time Travel Query function allows you to query data as it was at any point in the past, or as it will be at some point in the future.
Say that again?
The Time Travel Query function allows you to query data as it was at any point in the past, or as it will be at some point in the future.
Ok, perhaps Dr. Who is already here
The Time Travel Query (based on the SQL 2011 standard) is integrated into the database engine to provide significant performance and manageability advantages. This leads to easier business historical and trend analysis and application development. Time Travel Query provides the infrastructure for time-aware analytics to reduce the operational complexity of collecting and analyzing time-based data. This accelerates dynamic analysis of business trends and changes over time, for both new and existing applications.
The Time Travel Query also provides the flexibility to play with system-controlled temporal data, enabling you to analyze all kinds of chronological data including forward-looking data when using user-controlled temporal data. Having this query baked in to the database reduces application development time by allowing DBAs to use an existing SQL application and run it across different time periods.,..it is optimized for meeting audit and compliance inquires and point-in-time queries without the burden of changing an application
Time Travel Query functionality is included in all InfoSphere Warehouse editions editions.
To net it out – We have prebaked native support for temporal analytics into the database engine – Allowing you to jump back in and out of time periods as needed.
Perhaps if we combine with multidimensional cubes, InfoSphere Warehouse would make a more reliable TARDIS.
Eat that, Time Lords
So back to the grind – I’ve been away from the blogging and tweeting a bit for a number of good reasons, but the backlog of activities and news to share is staggering.
On a personal note, my wife and I had our 2nd child recently and well to be quite frank – That really kills the ability to crank out early morning or late night blog entries and such. I’m still in a half awake trance right now, in between burps, shooshes and fast walks around the foyer to get the Lil Mr. to sleep.
Last week I was out at the Gartner BI conference in Los Angeles, CA – Much more activity this year in my honest opinion and spoke with a number of current and prospective customers on their current BI and data warehousing situations. What really surprised me this year is that many folks are coming in asking about specific products and how it can help their company or organization – Marketing appears to be paying off – Yet we must be diligent to fully understanding the underlying business drivers before offering a solution. Will cover this in another post.
On top of the conference, our team launched our latest InfoSphere Warehouse 10 offering (in tandem with DB2 10) and has been getting some great reception. Now, I’m not going to spend all day recreating the wheel on its laundry list of features and benefits (there are plenty of sites that cover this that I will list) but I do want to discuss it’s overall purpose and why we released it.
Now if you were not aware, InfoSphere Warehouse 10 is built on top of DB2 (and thus DB2 10). This is the underlying database. What makes InfoSphere Warehouse different from DB2 proper is a feature known as the ‘database partitioning feature’ (or DPF for short) – This feature allows the DB2 10 inside of InfoSphere Warehouse to partition across nodes, increasing performance, manageability, scalabiltiy, etc. – All things important with a data warehouse implementation. This feature is not the only difference though, as InfoSphere Warehouse also includes its own data mining, cubing services, Cognos reporting and even basic ETL baked-in as standard components.
So with all of that being said – What is the big deal with InfoSphere Warehouse 10?
Real-Time Data Warehousing
From continuous ingest (populating the data warehouse on a continuous basis – as events occur) through time travel queries (baked-in support for temporal analytics) this data warehouse version enables customers to shorten the time it takes to record and capture an event, analyze and incorporate it and then take action on it.
Take this scenario. You are a retail store. A customer calls in (or emails, etc) to tell you that they are dissatisfied with your service. In the past, you would potentially deal with this customer in a customer service department individually and then ‘log’ and ‘update’ the customer’s complaint whenever the data warehouse loading was to occur (could be daily, could be weekly). While the customer service department handler has access to this ‘event’ (the customer complaining) – The rest of your organization and the underlying data warehouse and analytics infrastructure does not. How are you going to respond? Even analytical competitors have to wait until that event is loaded and processed before being able to respond.
Enter InfoSphere Warehouse 10. When the customer calls in, instead of having to wait until a batch load occurs, the specific event is ‘ingested’ into the data warehouse on the spot and incorporated into the repository. You have essentially reduced the time it takes to leverage that information from days and weeks to near immediate response. Your data warehouse is using the latest information, immediately after the events occur.
Continuous ingest in InfoSphere Warehouse 10 is an awesome illustration of some of the real-time capabilities yet the features don’t stop there. This offering is jam packed with built in queries, security features and other tools that drive higher performance, lower costs and increase overall team productivity.
I’ll follow up on some of the specific features over the next few days (yes, I promise to be better with writing) , but in the meantime, check out this aggregator of warehousing news for some other expert opinions, thoughts and critiques on the new InfoSphere Warehouse:
Due to some of my recent travel, I’ve forgotten to share and communicate some of our latest assets that the team has been building out. On the topic of the Smart Analytics System 5710, we have recently published a new product brochure that can be found here.
The piece is titled ‘The All-in-one Business Intelligence Solution’ and to be honest – That pretty much sums up what the 5710 actually is. Starting at under $50K off-the-shelf, these products can instantly empower your organization with a complete data warehouse and business intelligence solution.
It’s pretty simple – You select one of 3 model sizes (S, M or L), plug it in and start loading data from your many (or few – depends on your situation) data sources into the warehouse. If you have decided to use one or more of the InfoSphere Warehouse Model Packs, the data models have already been built for you – so just load those pre-built models with your data. Once that is complete – The 75+ prebuilt reports are at your control to immediately display and communicate your own business intelligence across your organization!
If you want to see one of these solutions in person, please drop me a note and I can help get you set up with a local innovation center, briefing center or even virtual demonstration via the demo cloud. If you are local in the North Carolina area we are getting ready to have one put in the executive briefing center shortly. I’ll communicate more locations as they get implemented but also expect to see and experience the Smart Analytics System 5710 on the road this year as we bring them to our numerous events and seminars.
On that note for a segue, the UK (London specifically) is definitely one of the locations where you will be able to interact with the 5710. In a previous post I shared a registration for an upcoming webcast in the UK and I wanted to update you that the date has been pushed back to March 21st. In that webcast we will be discussing both the 5710 and hearing from one of our customers of the Smart Analytics System, Deutche Postbank, and how they are levaraging it in the London branch. If you have not registered, you can still do so here.
In the latter half of 2011, our team brought to market a new edition of our flagship data warehousing software, InfoSphere Warehouse Advanced Edition. It was unfortunately one of those launches where it was stuck between the excitement around the Netezza product line, driving home the simplicity of an ‘appliance’ and the other later 2011 Smart Analytics System launches: the compact 5710 (my darling), 7710 (single server POWER) , 9700 and 9710 (Mainframes) and the DB2 Analytics Accelerator. <cough> . So when you have the battleship firing on all cylinders ‘Keep it simple!!!’ (as well as your own team) things can sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
I state this because I myself have been caught up in the excitement around the Smart Analytics System 5710 and am working to get systems up and available around the globe (yes, around the globe and in IBM’s Innovation Centers) for our customers to ‘experience’ and essentially play with the system. In reality though, the warehouse appliance market (as much as we love it) is only a portion of the data warehousing market overall. That leaves ‘pure software’ powering custom solutions worldwide – and there are a limited number of vendors that have invested in database and data warehouse software development apart from the mystical black box appliance. With all this being said, we have made some awesome enhancements to our leading Warehousing software that I wanted to share.
IBM InfoSphere Warehouse Advanced Enterprise Edition: In addition to the data mining, cubing and other warehousing tooling that you get with InfoSphere Warehouse, the advanced enterprise edition includes:
- All 3 InfoSphere Warehouse Model Packs (Customer Insight, Market and Campaign Insight and Supply Chain Insight) with all 75+ prebuilt (and fully customizable Cognos reports)
- InfoSphere Data Architect (Inclusion of 10 user licenses) our enterprise-level data modeling tool so that you can explore and analyze you underlying data model architecture and metadata.
- Advanced Enterprise Tooling that assists with backup and recovery of large data warehouse systems including: Optim High Performance Unload, DB2 Data Recovery Expert, Merge Backup and Recovery and Query Tuner.
For those smaller installations that are a bit more price sensitive, we also offer an Advanced Departmental edition that essentially adds the 3 InfoSphere Warehouse Model Packs into the warehouse, but does not include the enterprise tooling, etc.
Now, I could break this down into a number of blog entries, drilling into all of the integrated and bundled technologies of InfoSphere Warehouse Advanced Edition – But better than me explaining, our own InfoSphere Warehouse Product Manager, Jon Lind will be hosting a call on February 23rd from 12:30pm to 2pm to go through the product in extreme detail. The session is entitled: “Solving Complex Data Warehousing Problems with Advanced Tooling of InfoSphere Warehouse Advanced Editions” and I urge you to register and attend. The event is free (and virtual) and is a great place to ask any questions that you might have on the offerings or even data warehousing in general.
We look forward to seeing you there!
So 2012 has started with a bang and while it is only the 1st of February, I’m sitting here in Madrid halfway through our European sales enablement – yet this being my 3rd trip of the year. We spent yesterday drilling down into great detail about IBM’s data warehousing portfolio from Netezza through Smart Analytics, and the benefits of having the choice of workloads – Deep Analytics through Operational Analytics.. It’s pretty cool to think that we have this variety available for our customers.
On the topic of Europe – I wanted to share a webcast that we will be presenting as a part of the UK’s promotion of the Smart Analytics System 5710. I will be speaking with one of our data warehousing customers in the region about the solution. This is all to celebrate our latest implementation of the 5710 in London – and invite all of our customers and business partners to come give it a test drive. We will have the data warehouse loaded and mobile ready (ala iPad access) for all to experience the analytical power of the 5710 – in such a small footprint, both physical and financial.
If you have a second – register and come listen to how we are levaraging IBM’s Smart Analytics Systems with our customers for quantifiable benefits!
Date: Wednesday 22nd February 2012
Time: 11:00 GMT
IBM Smart Analytics System 5710 is a cost-effective solution for the midmarket companies and IT departments looking to quickly deploy analytics and business intelligence capabilities on a powerful warehousing foundation.
Model 5710 is a ready-to-go solution consisting of integrated and optimized analytics software, powerful data warehouse, server, storage and services. This compact, single-server system delivers a balanced combination of power and simplicity.
Built with performance and reliability in mind, Smart Analytics System 5710 integrates select InfoSphere and Cognos software with an energy-smart System x server, all combined with IBM System storage and available on the Linux platform. We have done the integration, testing, and configuration work for you!
Taking a break from the routine, I wanted to share a piece of marketing that I received last week that really stood out.
In today’s age, the vast majority of the marketing assets that we touch on a day to day basis revolve around e-media (I refer to anything that is digital to fit into this camp). With the pervasive being of internet communications in our daily lives, this of course is the more familiar mode. Aside from coupon clippers and the increasingly ‘free sample’ in the mail (coupons for free trials are much more common) it is rare to obtain something ‘of substance’ in the mail from a company unless you actually purchased something.
So last week my wife comes in and drops this CD-like package on my desk that has written on it: ‘SWISS POST – Customs Declaration’ and a ton of other things on it in Swiss German. I’m instantly intrigued.
Like a kid on Christmas I tear open this package to find this 6.5in x 6.5in case that you see in the below picture. Swissotel – Cool! I’ve only ever stayed at them a few times last year (mainly in Singapore), but why am I receiving this? I’m surely not a preferred member.
Upon opening up the lush booklet that is inside of the case, I find out in the personalized note that I have been upgraded to their Eleva (or Elite) status. Now as I know that usually multi-tiered hotel loyalty programs have bogus perks (ie Holiday Inn’s Priority Club … Gold Elite—Stay 15-49 nights or earn 20,000 points
• All Club benefits plus:
• Priority Check-in™ ensuring your room and key are ready upon your arrival
• 10% bonus on base points
• Exclusive toll-free Gold Elite customer service number (may not be available in all regions))
Um – yay – Not… Big friggin deal, I get better loyalty rewards from the local Harris Teeter
But reading the letter, this Eleva card elevates me to Swiss Exec Lounge, Free Breakfast, Free internet, etc. all at a very upscale chain that would usually charge you through the roof for any of the above. All in all this is a very nice program. Having stayed at Hiltons for my main vendor for the past 6 years, I have gone from nothing to Diamond and then to squat due to their change in program (Went from rolling to yearly) – effectively killing all loyalty that I have for the chain.
So aside from my perceived benefit of this perk – What does this uncalled for upgrade mean for Swissotel?
At the end of the day, the value of the package that Swissotel sent to me (€2-3 including shipping) is their cost. Swissotel targeted a new business customer that up until now has been whitespace. They know that I stayed at one hotel in Singapore one week and then another on a return visit (within the same year). From a customer perspective, it is their best interest to maintain my business and when I have choices, have Swissotel be that 1st choice for hotel when I travel. Having experienced their hotels in the past, I have of course been witness to the elevated level of service.
Now with my Eleva status in hand, I know I will receive the perks of executive lounge and uber breakfast spread at a relatively posh hotel chain and not ‘hope for the best’ like I do with my Hilton elite status (only if avail).
Thinking it through, this high touch loyalty marketing definitely puts Swissotel at the front of the pack. In other situations where I am executive elite (i.e. Delta SkyMiles Diamond) I did receive a more robust membership kit, etc -but it still seemed a bit pedestrian (and yes Delta, your international upgrade ability is still the worst… like never able to grab an upgradable fare).
In closing, I think back to a book that I read years ago that pretty much altered how I think of customer relationships en masse – Chocolates on the Pillow are Not Enough -by Jonathan Tisch. While much of this book’s content is basic customer marketing best practices there is a concept that comes to mind – the fact that gimmicks (ie the chocolate on the pillow) are not going to win customers… but in more detail, you need to look at turning your customers into guests through exceptional service, experience, etc. This Eleva card by itself would be a perfect example of a gimmick, making a customer think that they were special, honored and elite (Yes Holiday Inn’s Priority Club, you are front and center on this one) – yet when attached to both the brand and the experience of Swissotel – This ‘gimmick’ puts Swissotel at the front of this business traveler’s lodging list and I’m pretty sure that was worth the €2-3.
Business Analytics and Data Warehousing can produce some awesome results – but unless you know how to properly execute on the findings, they are useless.
I’ve been spending a good amount of time on the road lately kicking off the new year enabling sellers, partners and customers on our vast portfolio of data warehousing solutions. One question that I am consistently asked is “You (IBM) have so many technologies – DB2, Netezza, InfoSphere, etc. – How are they actually being used?”
On a product by product view the answer can be rather simple (ie. How DB2’s compression technology works) – But in real world scenarios, we are faced with many different situations, with different arrays of applied technologies.
We’ve taken a stab at consolidating some of the more popular stories in this space and built out a short eBook that goes from basic data warehousing appliance implementations through hub and spoke enterprise systems (ala Smart Consolidation) that leverage streaming technologies. While definitely not exhaustive, it does start the discussion around some of what our data warehousing technologies can do for you around business analytics.
One of my biggest gripes with data warehousing marketing (and pretty much corporate IT and Data Management) is that we promote these multi-million dollar solutions that companies are banking their well being on with either a bunch of talking heads, cutsey videos or even cardboard cut outs of hardware at trade shows. Yes, I know that it is cost effective for the latter point (I have shipped my share of full racks and well, not a fun way to blow your quarterly budget) – but there is something to be said about actually ‘touching’ something before you purchase it.
Our acquisition of the Netteza product line, really opened my eyes to a number of tactics that support this. Being able to ‘Test Drive’ your hardware on site through their appliance – Simple and sweet – and it was just cool to look at as well.
The Smart Analytics System 5710 unfortunately does not have the slick green shell like our other Netezza products, but it does have the footprint of a pizza box (have an empty rack slot?) and the pricepoint that could drop it into any organization’s Christmas shopping list. At under $50K the Smart Analytics 5710 has become some sort of phenomenon as an impulse buy in IT this season. Add to that, the Intel Xeon powered 3630s from System x are a screamer to boot.
Back to the video though – Aside from touching it, we wanted to show ‘how’ this system is used. These are actual screenshots, and actual reports and dashboards that you get (out of the box) with the InfoSphere Warehouse Packs. With the Smart Analytics 5710, you plug it in, turn it on and then load your data – And if you are using the Packs, well – you have reports and dashboards available on demand as well – out-of-the-box.
As for being able to ‘touch’ these systems – I will chat more about our plans there – Rest assured that you will have multiple opportunities to see and play with the Smart Analytics System 5710 in the next few months. In the meantime, any questions – just let me know.
Yesterday morning I ventured out into the real world to begin (albeit quite late) my Christmas shopping experience for 2011. Most of my friends have been chiming in on how they completed their shopping on Amazon (or online in general) in a few hours -Kudos to you – but in my honest opinion, there is something unfulfilling with shopping entirely online. Call me nuts, but I feel that there is a bit of value in the fact that I had to deal with the in person experience waiting at REI for 20 minutes, only to get a stainless steel BPA-free water bottle for my toddler (was on a mission from home base for this one). 1 gift down, 452 more to go…
Back to the expedition – During this experience yesterday, I walked into one of those craft stores where you usually see a load of grandmas attacking at 10am (and yes that was actually happening). What I was in there for was to find those window candles (the electric kind) that you can put up across your house. I’m personally fond of them, as it will relieve me from actually getting out side on the roof and stapling in 1000s of brittle lights that will have to come down in a week or two regardless.
After hip checking a few folks on the way to the front entrance, I was greeted with a foyer of Christmas bliss – from wreaths and advent calendars, to cheesy light up candy canes to accent your home’s walkway. Around the shelves I go, looking up and down. I see a Santa art set, a wreath making kit, a whole lot of silk poinsettias and then a box of LED icicle lights (rainbow colored none the less).. but no window candles.
I stuck my head up to look around, yet there was not an associate in sight. By the time I wandered over the candles area (yes, the real 1900s make your own kind) and asked someone I had already spent half an hour digging through this store. After discussion (and yes that took awhile to chat about an electric candle over a real one…as I’m frightened to think that some people still put real lit ones in window sills across the home) it was determined that they ‘think’ that they are out of them… seriously? you think, you don’t know? Perhaps this was the turn of the century then…
While my experience may have just been due to the slack worker that decided not to check stock, I have a suspicion that this store (and many others like it) do not have an accurate view of their own stock, their own business and are not empowered at the store level. I’m assuming that the chain has some sort of control on their business (as I do see the candles and in stock on their online store) – but what would it be worth to a store to have up to the minute data on their products and sales? Basic checkout would be able to reduce the inventory numbers locally and the management would have a better understanding of what was on the shelves minute to minute, rather than daily, weekly or monthly. I left that store willing to buy 10+ candles and perhaps some other stocking swag (think $100 or so) and am less willing to shop there, due to my experience of not finding items in stock.
With only a sub $50K investment, this store (and all stores) could empower themselves with their own local grasp of business results and analytics on a minute by minute basis. Forget just stocking the shelves (that should be table stakes in this day and age) but think about market basket analysis – They most likely have some drive from corporate to associate their products on the shelf, but local markets act and operate differently – each store could leverage local data on the fly.
As I sit back on a Sunday morning and write this entry – I think back to my soulless friends that shop entirely online – are they that soulless? or just smart as they have been through this game before. Regardless, many of today’s retailers have the opportunity to leverage more real time business intelligence on the local, regional and store level – hopefully building brand loyalty to plight of sales to competing companies with better supply chain operations.
Do I go outside today for a pontentially fruitless shopping experience – or do I guarantee success by just sitting here in front of the computer?