By Debbie Lonsdale
Last week we welcomed around 100 attendees to DBI’s 14th Diver Conference in Dun Laoghaire, to help us celebrate 25 years of Diver in Ireland. Bob Corr, DBI’s MD reminded us about various inventions that didn’t exist in 2004, which made us realise how far we had come, and also feel a little old! That is apart from our newest recruits who were not even born then! So in the era of no internet and therefore no software downloads, a box containing 2 floppy disks and a manual for Cross Target software landed in Bob’s office. As Bob said, without that box, we wouldn’t have all been together last Wednesday, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Diver (originally Cross Target) in Ireland.
To demonstrate just how far Diver has progressed since he and Stan Zanarotti co-founded Dimensional Insight 30 years ago, CEO Fred Powers flew over from Boston with DI’s Technical Director, James Clark to showcase all the latest technology in Diver 7.1 and Measure Factory. I think everyone was mightily impressed by the volume and depth of the new features that have been added recently.
We also heard from long-term Diver customer Michael Collins of Connolly’s RED MILLS, partner Ronni Levin Pedersen from Denmark, Shaun Foaden, MD of DI Netherlands and several members of the DBI team.
You can download the presentations from here in a zip file.
Below are my key takeaways which might give you an idea of what to look at first depending on your interests.
Fred Powers – Looking Back over the Years & Industry Trends
Sharing a history with DI for 25 years has allowed us to completely immerse ourselves in the changing world of Data Management and Analytics over that time. One thing that stood out for me was in the Dresner Survey findings: that Reporting, Dashboards and Data Integration remain critical features for End Users. After all the hype on Big Data and other buzz terms, these pale into insignificance for the majority of users. DI functionalities support the key requirements and many more. And it’s good to see that the DI company philosophy has stood the test of time.
Michael Collins – Diver always a Winner at Red Mills
Michael blew us away with the depth of his presentation – we learned a lot about the business in general before moving onto Diver’s role in organising and presenting business critical data right back from 2007 to the present day. So many areas of the company have taken advantage of using Diver, but what struck me most was their decision to keep Diver for their BI tool after migrating from Millwheel ERP to SAP ERP ECC 6 in 2015. It’s a great testament to Diver that it transitioned so well and was able to keep historical data within key models.
John Spillane – Basket Analysis & Store Mapping
John’s presentation needs to be viewed as an animated PPT so it’s not a PDF in the file. He explained quite a complex set of numbers about relationships between various data points that can be derived from retail sales as well as other data sets. The key thing for me was to see how complex calculations and relationships can be made so much more understandable by using visualisations as he did in the demo. This application will be invaluable to retail stores to manage their store layouts, and can be adapted for other uses such as in hospitals and warehouses. This is not just visualisation to make something look pretty, it has a real function.
Ronni Pedersen – Sales Budgeting Made Easy With Diver-In
Ronni is a partner of DBI and a member of the Diver BI group. We first saw this budget application on an internal, online, developers meeting and were so enthused by it that we asked Ronni to bring it over to show you. Most organisations have issues with budgeting and those using Excel struggle to find the flexibility they require. My key takeaway from this presentation is the ease of set-up, admin and end user adjustments that are all made possible using Diver input tables and DivePort.
James Clark – New Developments in Diver 7.1
There was such an abundance of new features and functionality to get through that Jamie had to spread his presentations over about 2 hours, the first hour being an overview and the other hour showing the details and demos. I liked the way he split it into Data Prep, Data Governance, Data Deployment, Data Delivery and Future Developments, so you can easily find what you are looking for in the PDFs too. One of my favourite new features is the improved admin interface for DivePort 7.1 – you’ll see it in the PDF – and all the great new features in Workbench, an absolute boon for us working on the Data Prep side of things. Assisted Analysis and the new Flex quickview are my favorites from the Delivery section. There are so many! Both PDFs are covered in this section.
Anthony Wright – Make an ODBC Connection – it is Here!
The original Ask Anthony from this website demonstrated one of the key new features that Jamie spoke of in his overview. Now you can set up an ODBC driver that will allow you to extract your prepared data from a Spectre cBase – a game changer for many users – and import it into 3rd party applications. None of the most popular free or low-cost visualisation tools have the power and functionality to do all the data prep and incorporate business rules into enterprise level data, as Diver does. So now you can use Diver to ensure your data is reliable before sharing in an external tool.
Olatz Iturbe – Get Acquainted with ProDiver 7.1
One of the most popular presentations was to showcase the ProDiver face-lift – and as we said on the day, it’s not just cosmetic! ProDiver remains one of the simplest and most powerful report-writing & analysis tools out there, but it looked a bit dated. Along with a change in appearance we were delighted to see that we can now change dimension in a Dive, as well as delete dimensions from anywhere in a multitab. This is such a great change for the better and will save no end of time in report writing as well as ad hoc diving!
Fred Powers – Company Direction and Futures
In Fred’s second presentation he simplified the “why” of the latest Diver R & D focus by looking at it from a user perspective. He boiled it down to these 3 user needs: TRUST, USABILITY and AGILITY. Whilst the Diver Platform has endeavoured to satisfy these, the Measure Factory is the new keystone of the DI offering as it allows for collaboration in the plans and specifications stage of an implementation which can then be shared in libraries of definitions made accessible to end users.
Fred also shared the fantastic results we are seeing in end-user surveys – they are highlighting how Diver is such a robust and versatile product, scoring at the top of Dresner, Klas and Gartner Peer Insights.
Shaun Foaden – The Future is Here Now – Measure Success
Shaun built on the explanation of why Measure Factory is so different to everything that’s gone before and how useful it will be for many organisations. My key takeaway was his use of analogies to help us see that data maturity is like human maturity – we can only sit back and take advantage of all the hard work that we do once the ground work is completed and we have learned enough to trust what we have built over the years which is locked in place. Two stages that take up so much time were traditionally validation and distribution – but Measure Factory captures the Rules and Measures in a way that frees us to do more analysis and offers really safe self-service. His visualisations in the PDF help us understand this far better than an explanation in words alone.
Donal O’Malley – Survey Advisory & Input Portlet Demo.
Surveys are a useful way of getting feedback from customers, suppliers, users etc. Donal showcased the new application built using DiveTab and its input features, and demonstrated the latest conditional forms. The key standout for me on this presentation was the flexibility of using the application connected or disconnected from the internet and the related ability to save a survey as complete or incomplete. The Survey creation and tracking facilities included transmitting and export of survey results.
Anthony Wright – Custom Mapping and Graphing Floor Plans
Anthony had a second presentation which led on from John’s Basket Analysis visualisations. He showed several different ways of graphing and mapping location-related data, using heat maps, routes, and map layers from a free open-source Geographic Information System combined with DivePort map portlets. There are quite a number of steps involved but he has included screenshots in the PDF to help if you want to try it. The most impactful message was that your location based data can be much better understood using mapping – you can see measurable patterns in workflows, travel routes, shopping habits, disease spread etc. that are not obvious when simply looking at numbers. These help you make changes to optimise the space you are working with, to improve outcomes, be they health, profit, timings or speed.
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Future Plans and Audience Questions
There is no PDF for this but we had the chance to hear from our Top Team of Fred, Jamie, Shaun, John and Bob, as they answered questions from the audience and from me. We found out that Jamie was most proud of the work he had done on DivePort; Shaun answered a question on cloud computing and emphasised the safety of keeping your data on a hosted server like the DI Netherlands SaaS servers; Fred answered that it was harder to stay ahead in the cutting edge of technology than to get started 30 years ago. My favourite answer was from Bob and John who both agreed that in 5 to 10 years’ time they saw DBI definitely still working with the latest that DI technology has to offer.
About Debbie Lonsdale
Debbie Lonsdale has been working with the Diver Solution as a BI Consultant at Dynamic Business Informatics since 2008. Her previous experience includes computer programming, analytical and technical roles, team management, account management, sales and marketing in a variety of market sectors, including the Travel Industry and Distribution. She combines this experience as an all round ICT professional in the BI sector.