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Ben Kepes is an analyst, and entrepreneur, an commentator, and a business adviser. His interests include a diverse range of industries from manufacturing to property technology. As a commentator he has a broad presence both in the traditional media and as an extensive blogger. He sits on the boards of a number of organizations, both commercial and not-for-profit. Ben is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 197 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Providing Plain English BI Insights for Salesforce Users

08.07.2012
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Recently I received an email from Saqib Waqar, CEO of Allena, an interesting new vendor in the “plain English BI” space. Waqar comes from an ERP background having created custom ERP solutions for several customers.

Waqar made contact after seeing content I’d written about two other BI players, YouCalc (eventually acquired by SuccessFactors) and GoodData. Allena aims to use search techniques, alongside “computational technology” to allow users to create plain English reports for salesforce. Allena aims to produce a Google-like interface where a salesperson can type in a questions (for example “What are my sales?”) and have a report created in real time from salesforce data.

Plain English BI is an interesting space, traditional BI tools, and even some newer approaches to BI, take an inordinate amount of time to implement – I’ve heard reports of a six week implementation schedule for even lightweight use of one “cloud BI” vendor. GoodData was a company that aimed to solve this problem with its marketplace of prebuilt BI modules – I was very bullish on their chances but the SuccessFactors acquisition meant that we didn’t really get a chance to see how well the solution could work. I’m aware of other plain English BI approaches but they to generally require lots of work to get up and running – Allena aims to change this.

Allena isn’t creating a data warehouse, rather it uses the meta data to parse search queries, and then returns the report based on the live salesforce data. At this stage Allena is pre-launch, and the company is only currently working on standard data models to ensure their solution is as generic as possible. Over time however there is an intention to deliver the same sort of functionality over specialized data models from with Salesforce (and elsewhere).

Preview videos like the one below are always pretty exciting, but the reality often doesn’t quite live up to the promise. Allena is a very early stage company but one that looks really interesting. I’ll be following their progress over time. The video below is apparently created from a live product built on top of force.com and is being run across a handful of salesforce customers to trial.

 

Published at DZone with permission of Ben Kepes, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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