News

One of our Sydney consultants, Dawie Kruger, shares some of his thoughts on the features available in Microsoft SQL Server that he feels are not being fully utilised by users.  ...

Published : Thursday, February 23, 2017

Author : Altis Marketing

Joshua Cortez, a member of our Data Science Team, has put together a series of blogs on using survival analysis to predict customer churn. This is the third and final blog of this series. ...

Published : Friday, February 17, 2017

Author : Altis Marketing

Two of our consultants, Michael Betterton and Dawie Kruger, are attending Microsoft Ignite on the Gold Coast this week, and in this blog they share some of the insights from the event.  ...

Published : Friday, February 17, 2017

Author : Altis Marketing

JISC - a not-for-profit organisation that encourages Higher education institutes to adopt digital services and solutions, and HEPI -  a UK think tank devoted to higher education, published a news article earlier this week entitled 'Reducing drop-out rates with Technology: Learning from Australia.'  ...

Published : Thursday, February 09, 2017

Author : Altis Marketing

Joshua Cortez, a member of our Data Science Team, has put together a series of blogs on using survival analysis to predict customer churn. This is part two of the blog series.

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Published : Thursday, February 09, 2017

Author : Altis Marketing

Published : Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Author : Altis Marketing

Joshua Cortez, a member of our Data Science Team, has put together a series of blogs on using survival analysis to predict customer churn. This is part one of the blog series. ...

Published : Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Author : Altis Marketing

Our Utility Practice Lead, Rhubesh Gommiah, attended The Australian Utility Week 2016 conference held in Sydney last week.  ...

Published : Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

This week, Guillaume Jaudouin our AWS Practice Leads takes us through some of the announcements made by AWS during the re:Invent week.  ...

Published : Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Alok Joshi from our Melbourne office shares his insights on whether Agile Scrum can work on Fixed Price Data Warehouse projects. ...

Published : Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Altis is pleased to announce that Amir Zaki has been appointed to lead our Data Management practice.   ...

Published : Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Author : John Hoffman

Joshua Cortez, a member of our Data Science Team, looks at using analytics to predict sports leagues outcomes. ...

Published : Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

James Black from our Sydney office recently attended the TDWI conference "Analytics across the Enterprise" earlier this month in San Diego, California. Here he shares his key takeaways from the conference. ...

Published : Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Do you know that on 24th November 2016 all TM1 servers will stop working? This is due to the SSL certificates expiring on this day.  In order for you to have TM1 up and running you will need to ensure that new SSL certificates are in place. ...

Published : Friday, October 14, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Ash van der Spuy from our Sydney office shares his thoughts on how IT and business can work more closely to bridge the gap of familiar spreadsheet analysis vs reporting from a data warehouse for Financial Analysts. ...

Published : Thursday, September 29, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Amir Zaki from our Sydney office, who has performed numerous successful data governance projects, shares the 5 key principles for driving successful Data Governance initiatives. ...

Published : Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Today saw the conclusion of our Analytics Roadshows, where Isaac Reyes, Altis Head of Data Science presented on the “Five signs your organisation needs a data science team – assembling the right mix of data savvy professionals for the changing nature of business data”.   ...

Published : Thursday, September 08, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

We are very proud to announce that for the 7th year in a row, Altis Consulting has been recognised as a fantastic workplace by the Great Places to Work survey for Australia. This award is an accolade to the wonderful team at Altis who make our culture and workplace so successful. ...

Published : Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Author : Nadine Hamilton

The Power BI toolset from Microsoft is changing the game in the data visualisation space. With major monthly releases building on the functionality and rapidly incorporating new features, combined with its competitive pricing we are seeing many clients dipping their toes into the world of Power BI. ...

Published : Thursday, August 25, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Lindsey Abot and Rhubesh Goomiah from Altis’ Melbourne office noticed how often the traffic camera at Flinders and Williams Street was flashing and wondered how many infringements it recorded each year. ...

Published : Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Amir Zaki recently attended the MDM and Data Governance Summit in Sydney and he shares some of the key takeaways.  ...

Published : Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

In this Altis white paper, Anastasia Voinou from our Melbourne office talks about Data Lakes and their place in an Information Management architecture.
 ...

Published : Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Michael Betterton from our Canberra Office talks about some of the changes in Microsoft’s SQL Server 2016 SSRS and how you can leverage these. ...

Published : Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Thousands of businesses collect vast quantities of data, yet they struggle to turn the potential knowledge and insights into business advantage. Although the task can seem massive, the benefits can be great, allowing organisations to unlock additional sources of revenues and efficiencies. ...

Published : Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Nadine Hamilton recently attended an Australian Computer Society event and she shares her key takeaways from this event. ...

Published : Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Our Utilities Practice Lead, Rhubesh Goomiah shares some insights from Australian Energy Week. ...

Published : Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Altis is pleased to announce that due to significant demand we have created technology practices for AWS and Microsoft.   ...

Published : Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Author : John Hoffman

Microsoft PowerBI generates a lot of interest, as we see customers lining up to give it a try. The combination of superb visualisation, self-service approach and an attractive price-tag make PowerBI a worthy candidate for analytics. However, for some customers, the enthusiasm is soon replaced with disappointment when they learn that PowerBI is a cloud-based tool. There are some very good reasons organisations might not be able to take their BI implementations to the cloud (and there are some not-so-good reasons, naturally), and if that’s the case, PowerBI becomes less relevant.
 ...

Published : Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Author : Rod Avissar

By 2020, 75% of large and midsize organisations globally will compete using advanced analytics and proprietary algorithms according to Gartner.  So what’s stopping businesses from using analytics and proprietary algorithms to drive their business forward?

The biggest hurdle is the availability of qualified and experienced data scientists. McKinsey projects that by 2018 the demand for data scientists may be as much as 60 percent greater than the supply available.

To address this growing gap, Altis, Australasia’s largest vendor independent Business Intelligence and Analytics consultancy has invested in DataSeer.  DataSeer is the Philippines leader in predictive analytics outsourcing and training.  Their highly skilled team is currently ranked in the top 2.8% of data scientists worldwide by kaggle.com.  

“Altis has been successful in delivering tangible financial outcomes using data and predictive algorithms, but we have been constrained by the availability of skilled data scientists in our local market,” said Altis’ CEO, John Hoffman. 

“Our investment in DataSeer enables us to draw upon a larger pool of data scientists for projects and outsourcing arrangements in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.  For example, during the investment process, we ran three separate client projects that delivered significant financial outcomes for our clients.  All three of those clients have already committed to additional projects.  This gave us confidence that our investment/partnership with DataSeer enables Australian, New Zealand and UK organizations (where Altis has physical offices) the ability to address the gap of data scientist availability and enable companies to cost effectively apply machine learning and predictive analytics to drive differentiation and profitability.

Isaac Reyes, Principal of DataSeer and newly appointed Head of Data Science for Altis believes the investment represents “a natural partnership between two very complementary businesses, coupling Altis’ market leading position in data warehousing and BI with DataSeer’s capabilities in machine learning and predictive analytics.”

To find out more about this exciting announcement or to find out how we can help you contact your local Altis Office or email us at connect@altis.com.au


 ...

Published : Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Canberra based Senior Consultant Paul Priestly talks about his takeaways from the recent ‘Data Management and Sharing in Government’ conference. ...

Published : Friday, April 08, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Published : Friday, April 01, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Altis recently sponsored the Public Sector Data Management, Sharing and Publishing conference held in Canberra from 8-9 March 2016.
 ...

Published : Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Author : Altis Marketing

Altis Consulting ranked 19th in this year's Great Place to Work list of best workplaces in Asia
 ...

Published : Thursday, March 17, 2016

Author : Nadine Hamilton

Gartner's decision to separate their magic quadrant BI report highlights the changing uses of Business Intelligence in organisations. With modern user-led software is the role of the BI professional going to disappear? ...

Published : Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Author : Rod Avissar



Our Auckland Team is volunteering with Variety and Cancer Society NZ for Special Children's Christmas Party this year.

The Special Children's Christmas Party, in association with the Cancer Society and Variety - the Children's Charity, provides an unforgettable experience for disabled and disadvantaged children in our community.

Altis has been partnered with Variety – the Children’s Charity, since 2011, as they are closely aligned to Altis' core values and it gives our staff and customers the opportunities to volunteer and participate at a grass roots level in Australia and New Zealand. This is one such event and the team in Auckland have the great pleasure of contributing to help make special memories for special children.

This year’s party will be on Saturday, 5 December and run for three and a half fun-filled hours during which time the children will be treated to a star studded stage show featuring many local, national and international artists. There will be bouncing castles, face painting, merry-go-rounds, petting zoos, pony rides, clowns, dancers, fairies, magicians, hoop shooting contests, bowling alleys, Police and Army displays, and a lot more to provide plenty of fun and entertainment.

Read more about our partnership with Variety.



 ...

Published : Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Author : Altis Marketing



Distributed teams bring additional challenges to delivering successful outcomes in any project. Staying on top of these challenges can be easier if you are holding the right keys.

Sourcing expertise who are geographically distributed is sometimes essential to reach the right people for the job. The advent of technologies such as cloud based solutions that do not require onsite infrastructure, and the increasing popularity of flexible working arrangements has seen remote teams become more prevalent. Remote development has necessitated a paradigm shift in traditional team structures and management. It is necessary for remote teams to implement innovative solutions to overcome the temporal and special boundaries.

There are 3 key doors which remote teams must unlock to facilitate a ‘one-team’ approach to successfully achieving project outcomes.

Door #1: Communication & Collaboration

Communication is one of the most important aspects of team dynamics that is impacted when working with remote teams vs an on-site teams. 93% of communication is non-verbal of which 55% accounts for body language, gestures and facial cues. When working with remote team members, you lose the ability to read gestures and expressions that are vital to understanding context of why certain questions are asked or statements made or how your client or peers ‘feel’ about a situation.

Collaboration, although sometimes used synonymously with communication, places more emphasis on individuals working together, feeding off one another and making decisions together for a focused goal. The creative nature inherent in collaboration can be lost when working with remote teams as individuals miss the opportunity to ‘bump into’ each other or come together to whiteboard ideas, there is no “tap on the shoulder” for a quick question or clarification, no overheard conversations that could be contributed to and it is easy to forget to consult with remote team members when making decisions or raising concerns.

The Key:

  • Find the right technologies to facilitate the communication: There are many communication and collaboration platforms out there that can serve to be great tools in overcoming the above challenges. Go beyond your basic instant communicator and use tools such as Slack, HipChat or Glip, which can be used to house and easily organise conversations to help keep all team members in the loop irrespective of the topic and when discussions take place. Knowledge bases can be co-operatively maintained with tools like Confluence and Yammer so no concept, decision or issue is lost. Don’t underestimate the power of using video calling instead of just voice calls – visual communication makes giving news (good or bad) more credible and the additional human element does wonders in building trust.
  • Instil communication habits within the team: It’s all good and well to get the right technology in place to help team collaboration, but it will be of no use if the team does not use the technology as intended, to its full potential or if it is not used at all. Habits need to be cultivated to ensure that people are using the tools appropriately and to the team’s advantage. For example, ensuring all minutes from meetings are posted in a timely manner for people to make comments, discouraging open ended and ambiguous questions/comments, and encouraging even casual conversations to be socialised with the team – “Can you put that on Yammer?” The goal of the tools is to provide a clear and searchable history of collaboration so all decisions and ideas can be leveraged – make sure this goal is achieved through habits.

Door #2: Project Visibility

It is important from a management and a collaboration perspective, that team members are aware of not only their own responsibilities, but the responsibilities of other team members. Having this level of visibility allows the team to be more self-sufficient and less reliant on the project manager knowing what work is expected, whether it impacts any other team member and if there are any dependencies on others in order for work to be completed. Having a team that is highly autonomous and less dependent on a single person is critical for successful delivery.

Project visibility also encompasses the feeling of ‘presence’ each team member creates. When working with distributed teams, remote individuals may not be available immediately for discussions that are outside organised meeting times. This could be due to working in different time zones, the frequency with which messages and emails are checked and even differences in break times (e.g. when people go out for coffee). Creating a presence combined with understanding and accommodating for each individual’s availability are essential aspects of project visibility.

The Key:

  • Facilitate regular meetings: You don’t have to be running your project in agile to realise the benefits of having a daily catch up. At a minimum, a daily meeting will allow people to verbally state what they are working on and any impact and dependency on others. This should be enough to keep people in check of others are doing and no work is being doubled up or blocked. If further planning meetings are required, then these should be encouraged.
  • Have a visible project tracking mechanism: Using tools like Trello, Jira or ProofHub allow for a transparent and easy way of sharing plans, comments/feedback, task allocations and maintaining progress. The team can be aware of the status of the project anytime.

Door #3: Trust

Underpinning the first two doors and what is ultimately required to successfully work with a remote team is trust. Without trust within team members, it becomes increasingly difficult to collaborate and results in siloed work from individuals. Certain team members may take on less / more work depending on their motivation. Trust needs to be established between the manager and within the team.

The Key:

  • Transparency: This is about making sure that as much as possible is made visible to the team and nothing is hidden. Transparency provides the building blocks of generating trust. Letting other team members know that you are unable to complete a task or experiencing difficulties should be encouraged. Makes for fewer surprises and allows the team to play to their strengths.
  • Encourage more communication: Coming back to communication habits, the team must have a culture of communicating with each other as often as possible. Without physically meeting someone, it adds that additional barrier to trust. The more communication there is, whether it be phone/video calls, instant communication etc. the more the team will be able to trust the individual.
  • Team meetups / outings: Depending on the sparsity of your team, there may be the rare occasion where all team members are brought together. These occasions must be capitalised with a team event to build the relationship and trust within the team. Everyone should be encouraged to attend and get involved!
 ...

Published : Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Author : Altis Marketing



Author: Veronica Coyle, Altis Transport & Logistics Practice Lead


The 2015 Major Accident Investigation Report notes that there has been a 35% reduction in serious crashes in Australia in spite of a 30% growth in freight transport. This is a fantastic result which shows that transport companies have been making great strides in improving safety.

I attended the recent Supply Chain Safety & Compliance Summit in Sydney and heard some very good first-hand stories about how companies are ensuring they meet their obligations under the National Heavy Vehicle Legislation. The message that all parties in the supply can be held legally accountable for breaches of fatigue, speed, mass, dimension and load restraint laws has smart companies taking action, and data is a big part of the story.

One of the speakers at the summit observed that having hard data takes the emotion out of discussions with employees and sub-contractors as the facts speak for themselves. Simply being able to call up the details of an event means that discussion can quickly move from ‘what happened’ to ‘what needs to be done’.

There is also an increasing awareness of the importance of hard data should it become necessary to demonstrate that ‘all reasonable steps’ were taken. This means not only recording what happened, but also taking positive steps to identify and address issues. Capturing and storing data is an important tool for identifying where safety improvements are needed. Data can be used to: 

  • Measure current state
  • Identify and manage problem areas
  • Measure the success of improvement programs. 

With good data in hand, companies can measure performance against defined safety goals. This information can be used to identify areas for improvement and to develop targeted programs. Continued data monitoring means that the effectiveness of each program can be measured, and further improvements made.

It’s easy for companies to limit themselves to using the data they are already collecting as they devise and implement safety monitoring and improvement plans. However, it is just as important to consider what data is not being collected.

An important first step is to look at the company’s information supply chain to identify any data gaps and to create a roadmap to address them. For example, driver arrival and departure times could automatically recorded at distribution centres; or photographs can be taken showing load restraints every time a truck arrives or departs. Mobility devices (including smart phones) mean that capturing missing data can be done more easily than ever before.

In order to continue the great strides in improving supply chain safety, companies need to leverage not only the data they have, but to also think beyond current state to identify what they can’t see. The exercise of taking stock of data gaps is an important first step in developing a holistic safety improvement strategy.

 ...

Published : Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Author : Altis Marketing



I had the pleasure of representing Altis at IBM’s Annual Insight convention in Las Vegas on the end of October, to see what’s new with IBM Cognos, Watson Analytics and IBM’s big data solutions, and to give a talk on how we reduce development and maintenance times of IBM Cognos reports using centrally controlled templates and solution libraries. 

During the conference, IBM presented the much-rumoured next version of Cognos – now re-branded Cognos Analytics. Unlike previous upgrades, this isn’t just a bunch of new features on the good old Cognos, but an absolute re-thinking of the product and its uses. In other words, Cognos finally catches up with times. 

What's new?

First of all, there’s a major re-write of the portal (Cognos Connection, as they used to call it). On the long walk from breakfast to sessions, IBM put up some clever signs. One of them read “The 90s called, they want their SharePoint back”. That sentiment does represent the new IBM design – less menus, less buttons, less screens, with all navigation is done on screen, with a very clever usage of ribbon, drop down menus and mouse gestures. The search mechanism was also given a boost, with auto-suggestions and the ability to save searches. On top of it all, the portal (As well as all development screens) is now entirely mobile-ready. It’s not just a face lift – it’s an entirely different approach to user interface. 

On top of that change, IBM added a dashboarding tool that allows the non-savvy end user to easily visualise data by simply dragging data fields on to a canvas. A video demo can be found here. This is a very useful tool that offers smart visualisations on the fly. 

Report authoring has been made a lot easier, with Report Studio getting a whole new look and feel that speeds up authoring (And much to my joy, encourages the use of templates) while remaining one of the most robust, versatile BI authoring tools in the industry. Report consumption is now done through a dynamic viewer that allows the user such interactive features as summarising, grouping, filtering and sorting. This can be seen in this video demo which also demonstrates the all-new predictive search mechanism. 

On top of all that, there’s a new modelling tool that allows the non-savvy user to connect to data, ask a question and get the tables and relations needed to answer that question. You can see a demo of it here

Next steps

The new product will be released by the end of the current year, say officials. I have taken the opportunity to participate in the sessions about upgrades. They will have quite a few caveats, which is why at Altis we are putting together all the information necessary to assist our customers with upgrades and new implementations. Upgrades would definitely require some careful planning beforehand, especially in some scenarios such as where there is intensive use of portal pages, in order to go smoothly; post upgrade, some professional training would allow our customers to maximise the benefits of this upgrade.

Contact our team today to get ready for the next generation of IBM Cognos. 

 ...

Published : Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Author : Rod Avissar

Daley Davis, our UK Business Development Manager, talks about the adaptation and adoption of data driven marketing in the financial services industry, noting “Those that embrace true Data-driven marketing will be the winners.”  ...

Published : Saturday, September 12, 2015

Author : John Hoffman

In most organisations, BI reports are a strange animal from a user experience perspective: Although the technology behind them has been changing constantly, and continues to change, their look and feel and behaviour remains more or less constant. ...

Published : Friday, September 11, 2015

Author : Rod Avissar

Peter Hopwood, our UK Country Manager, sits down for an interview with University of London Computer Centre, to discuss Higher Education in both the UK and Australia. ...

Published : Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Author : Peter Hopwood

We’re at the Association for Learning Technology’s annual conference in Manchester...


ALTC15 is currently underway at Manchester University until 10 September, so stop by our stand or go to the ALTC15 site to book a meeting with Daley Davis, our HE Business Development Manager.


http://info.ulcc.ac.uk/meet-us-at-altc15

Author: Altis Marketing. | Date: Tuesday, September 08, 2015

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Published : Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Author : Peter Hopwood

At Altis Consulting, we know that we're one of the best places to work but we never get tired of being nominated, shortlisted and then recognised as one of the Best Places to Work in Australia. It’s an achievement we pride ourselves on.

For the past six years in a row, Altis has been recognised by BRW the leader in workplace media, as a great workplace. It’s a testament to the great team that make it possible that flows onto how we value both our staff and our clients.  A great team means better insights delivered to loyal customers. At Altis, we are different than other firms. Our family dynamic runs throughout the company through initiatives such as empowering women in Information Management. 

Demonstrating our commitment

  • At least 40 per cent of our management team are women who champion positive female role-models, such as our ACT Regional Manager, Katrina Pilcher who was a finalist for the 2013 Telstra ACT Business Women's Awards
  • In 2015 John Hoffman, CEO of Altis was recognised as a ‘Pay Equity Ambassador’ by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.  (This is a group of CEOs including Ian Narev (CBA) and Pip Marlow from Microsoft, whose mission is to have every employer in Australia conduct a gender pay gap analysis as the first step to identify and address gender bias in the workplace.)
  • We ensure that there is an ongoing emphasis on training, upskilling and personal growth of women within the workplace, not only within Altis but as thought leaders within Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence; a traditionally male dominated industry. 

The reality is that in an industry where women are sometimes outnumbered by as much as 8:1, inequalities including wage inequality are a real challenge. Altis Director Hyun Choi, says “within Altis, we are able to provide a workplace that genuinely seeks to enable the women of our organisation to live their lives fully in all their roles whilst continuing to develop their careers to their full potential. It is particularly satisfying to be able to do this in the IT industry, which remains male-dominated. Gender equality in the workplace is a key to gender equality in society. As the mother of two, a boy and a girl, I feel it is our responsibility in the here and now to strive toward a future where gender becomes irrelevant in workplace opportunities for our children and future generations”

Keeping people engaged

The challenge for us as an Information Management consultancy in the Australian market is that we’re a specialist organisation and there’s only a finite pool of talented people that we can draw upon. This means that our people who are the best in the industry are in demand and we work hard to keep them engaged. To increase staff retention we maintain and develop our inclusive workplace culture and reinforce the values of Altis. This is reflected in the Altis’ low attrition rate (less than 13 per cent for FY14/15) and an average tenure of more than 5 years and having 100% of new mothers return back to Altis when they decide to re-enter the workforce. We are proud that they choose to return to Altis and we actively work together to accommodate changing needs and demands, both within their own family structure but also out at clients.  

We’re a team focused organisation and prioritise the wellbeing of our team and the work-life balance. To us, it is of the utmost importance and is why we offer flexible working arrangements, not only with mothers, but also fathers and carers within our team. We celebrate each milestone with our consultants and welcome the occasional visit by their families to our offices; injecting fun and laughter and cooing on those days. 

Partnership with purpose

We all know that team building is important but we also know that keeping the ties within the Altis family and the community are as important. That’s why we introduced the Altis Family Day, a day where the team and their families meet up, be it at the water park or the local park for a BBQ and soccer. We also get the entire team together, including our New Zealand and UK offices every couple of years, for a weekend retreat where we spend quality time together as one big family, getting to know new team members and also strengthening the Altis family ties. 

Many will know our charity partner, Variety- the Children’s Charity. This year, we encouraged our team’s family and friends to be a part of our fundraising initiatives with Variety, getting dressed up in dinosaur costumes at a sausage sizzle and collecting funds for the Variety Bash.  It has never been more fun and rewarding to Variety, and ourselves and as a bonus the kids get to sit in the Altisaurus; Altis’ car for the Variety Bash, complete with roaring dinosaur sounds.

We are proud to be recognised as one of the ‘Best Places to Work in Australia’ and will continue to develop our workplace and culture creating a positive working environment in our offices, at our client sites, within family units and the greater Information Management and IT industry.

Author: John Hoffman. | Date: Tuesday, September 01, 2015

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Published : Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Author : John Hoffman

How do you find the right data and use it effectively to achieve tangible business outcomes?

These are common concerns that have been challenging the data world for decades; the quest for right data and the effort needed to turn it into information and ultimately into intelligence. Ever changing business scenarios, requirements, attitude of data providers and consumers and last but not the least technological advancements; all these have just made the situation more difficult. Organisations can invest substantial amounts in new technologies, but without a holistic view of the requirements and complexity of underlying data, these projects run the risk of reinventing the wheel and creating even more complex problems.

In this era of ever increasing demand for information; it is high time we Stop, Think and Get the Basics right. Above all we need to have an organised way of managing data, like a Supply Chain.

Supply Chains empower organisations across the world to manage goods and transport them from warehouses to retail stores in a timely, orderly manner. Goods being at the right place at the right time, not early and not late, are one of the key factors determining success and the Data Management world could learn a lot from these supply chains.

Sourcing, storing and supplying data at the right time on a scalable platform are always the key objectives of businesses that thrive on data. By implementing a Data Supply Chain, an organisation will follow best practices in managing data and data flow, thereby eliminating wasted investment spent on silo solutions which are never integrated. A Data Supply Chain is not about a new technology, it is about people, processes and technology all working towards managing data effectively.

Why a Data Supply Chain?

  • Silo data stores exist in all organisations, serving different groups of users and business systems but seldom is data from these stores integrated and analysed.
  • Organisations consume and supply data internally and externally and a data supply chain makes this data traffic seamless.
  • Businesses have a better visibility of data with the flow of data more transparent and coherent, which in turn facilitates better data governance.
  • Organisations, especially Government agencies, are all about data sharing. A data supply chain approach takes us closer to achieving data sharing and collaboration.

Challenges

  • Within organisations with a history of failed data projects that blew out budgets in the past, a new initiative is at risk of being just another buzz word.
  • If there is a lack of collaborative efforts between IT and Business divisions to achieve business outcomes, it will always be difficult to build and promote a Data Supply Chain.
  • Data security, data sharing and privacy clauses within organisations can be determining factor for a Data Supply Chain. An organisation with a rigid security framework in place will find it more challenging to have internal data flows, let alone external data exchanges.

How do I start with a Data Supply Chain?

  • Before embarking on a journey to build a Data Supply Chain in your organisation, you need a reference committee to undertake the governance of the supply chain. This committee initiates stakeholder and data supplier participation.
  • Working towards building an efficient Data Supply Chain can be started by identifying the key business requirements and prioritising them. Requirements should then be mapped against internal and external data stores and data assets. The business should be engaged to prioritise the data stores and identified stores should be brought in together. It is always good to start with a minimum number of stores which are of utmost importance. Working initially with a small number of data sets will enable the organisation by standardising the Supply Chain practices.
  • Technology is yet another key factor. There are hundreds of tools out there; the goal is to acquire the right technology suite which fits the requirements, and yields maximum business benefits.
  • The Data Supply Chain is not something that is built and left to fend for itself. Each stage of the supply chain is to be measured and the key metrics govern the direction, management and maintenance of the supply chain. Organisational goals should be mapped to the supply chain periodically and key priorities revisited and mediated.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help your organisation with finding the right data to achieve your business outcomes, give us a call on (02) 9211-1522.

Author: Nithin Balakrishnan. | Date: Thursday, May 14, 2015

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Published : Thursday, May 14, 2015

Author : Nithin Balakrishnan

Altis Consulting has been recognised on the 2014 BRW Best Places to Work Study for its excellence and leadership in programs that have built and maintained a culture of high performance and great team engagement.

Altis supports the professional and personal development of our team through a comprehensive career development and training program, and social contribution through partnership with Variety the children’s charity.

This significant achievement to be recognised for the 5th year in a row as a great workplace is underpinned by our ongoing commitment to building a happy, engaged team that take pride in being part of Altis and continuing to deliver tangible business outcomes to our clients.

A key to Altis’ success is our business model based on the service profit chain principle that a happy, engaged team equal happy, loyal clients which leads to better profits. This puts our people first and foremost. We’ve achieved this through:

  • Open communication both upwards and downwards across Altis. We encourage a culture where every team member has a voice and can be heard. We’ve received and implemented great suggestions from our team on how to improve and better deliver to our clients.
  • Having a shared vision to be the Information Management partner of choice for our clients, working together to deliver tangible business outcomes.
  • Our ethos of “Connecting with courage, heart and insight”. The Altis team is inspired because they belong to an organisation that is passionate about its people and the value of supporting each other and our clients.

About the study

The BRW Best Places to Work study is widely acclaimed in Australia. Based on one of the world’s most comprehensive studies of workplace culture by Great Place to Work Australia, the quality of this year’s study was higher than ever. The success of the Best Workplaces is a testament to their willpower and innovation to retain happy, engaged, loyal, high performing workforces during challenging times.

Author: John Hoffman. | Date: Tuesday, September 09, 2014

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Published : Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Author : John Hoffman

There is a lot of excitement around about 'cloud' solutions right now. But do you know how cloud solutions be used for your Business Intelligence needs?

What is cloud?

The 'cloud' in cloud computing can be defined as the set of hardware, networks, storage, services, and interfaces that combine to deliver aspects of computing as a service. So rather than having to set up your own server, database, ETL and BI/reporting tools and then having staff to maintain all of these items, cloud gives you the option of renting these things as a service on a pay-as-you-go basis. They also generally have the added benefit of being scalable, meaning they can grow or shrink based on your needs.

There are a couple of different types of cloud services as shown in Figure 1. The most popular are:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)

Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is defined by Gartner as 'computing resources, along with associated storage and network resources, offered to the customer via self-service in a highly-automated way, on-demand and in near-real-time.' They are generally barebones environments with networking infrastructure provided. Examples of IaaS services include Amazon Web Services (AWS) Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2, Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Rackspace.

Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) is cloud middleware, and provides a computing platform and a solution stack (software) as a service. These are computing platforms which which typically include the operating system, programming language execution environment, database and/or webserver. This means that time-consuming operational tasks such as configuring, optimizing and continuously updating your environment are handled on your behalf. Examples of PaaS services include AWS Relational Database Service (RDS), AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku, Force.com and the Google App Engine.

Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS) is where the service provider hosts both the application and the data. Instead of owning and installing the software on a local computer, you access it via the internet (usually through a web browser). Example of SaaS services include Salesforce and Tableau Online.

Figure 1: A comparison of traditional packaged software models versus the different cloud service offerings.

How can cloud services be used for your Business Intelligence needs?

Gartner defines Business Intelligence as 'an umbrella term that includes the applications, infrastructure, tools and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance.' Almost everything that you can do in-house for Business Intelligence can be done using cloud services.

Consider a simple but common example, where you want to source data from multiple sources, build a data warehouse from it and perform some reporting and analysis off this data. You might choose to Extract, Transform and Load your data from multiple sources using an AWS EC2 instance running Linux using ETL tools such as Pentaho Data Integration or Talend. You might then choose to store your data in an Amazon RDS instance running SQL Server standard, or in a Redshift database. Then when producing reports, you can connect to this RDS instance or Redshift instance and produce reports the same way as if that service was hosted locally. You might choose to also have this in the cloud by using cloud reporting tools like Tableau Online or Tibco Spotfire Cloud.

What are the benefits of using cloud services for your BI?

There are a number of benefits of using cloud services for your BI needs. The most commonly noted are:

  • Services are easy to get running. Rather than having to wait for servers to be purchased, software to be installed and networks to be set up, you can simply “spin up” an instance which can take just a matter of minutes.
  • Services are maintained by your cloud service provider. For example, consider Tableau Online, who will automatically update their Tableau Online software for you, so there is no need to do this yourself.
  • Services such as storage services are fairly reliable. Amazon’s S3 service strives to achieve 11 9’s of reliability in terms of data loss, which means that “if you store 10,000 objects you can expect an average loss of a single object every 10 million years”. They also strive to be 99.99% available.
  • Services are often cheaper. You no longer need to pay for hardware and maintenance of staff, you don’t have to pay up-front for separate licenses for Operating Systems, Databases and Software and you can use these on a pay-as-you-go basis.
  • Services can be scalable and somewhat flexible. Most (not all) cloud services can be 'scaled up' as required. So for example, say you have 200GB of storage space allocated on S3 and you realised a year after setting up the service that it wasn’t enough. You can easily increase this to 1TB if you want. If the server is likely to have a heavy access load you can also increase its capacity to handle a higher request rate. Many cloud solutions can also handle processing large volumes of data through tools like AWS’s Elastic Map Reduce (EMR) or Windows Azure HDInsight which employ the Hadoop and MapReduce framework to quickly retrieve results.
  • Services are easy to access from multiple devices and locations. Analysts or Managers for example who may want to access reports on the go, could do so from a mobile device like an iPhone from the train or from a laptop at home. This removes the need to take a personal copy of data onto a USB and move it between locations.

What are the challenges of using cloud services for your BI?

While there are many benefits there are also a number of challenges. These include:

  • Disparate Data Sources. This is a challenge of most Business Intelligence endeavours, where data is stored in multiple source systems. Many companies have data stored in both the cloud (e.g. in Google Analytics) and in locally (e.g. in Databases and Excel), and these need to be brought together for consumption. The use of an ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) tool that can access the multiple data source types can assist with this process.
  • Data Security. Data security is one of the most commonly cited reasons for not using cloud services. However if security is set up correctly, cloud services can be set up to be just as secure as many in-house services. Consider also that most in-house databases also provide some level of connectivity through networks and many data sources are already in the cloud, such as Salesforce data that usually contains private customer details. Occasionally there may be requirements for data security which may not be met by cloud solutions, and in these instances perhaps a private cloud could be an alternative, but for many solutions security might not be as big of a concern as it is commonly made out to be.
  • Maturity of Cloud Products. With some offerings in particular being quite new to the market there may be some concerns around the maturity of the product features and their reliability. Most products do experience some teething issues. For example, AWS is not without fault and has experienced quite public outages in the past. This publicity is partially due to a large number of major websites relying on these services including Thomson Reuters, Netflix, Reddit, Spotify and Airbnb. Other services such as SaaS services also may experience minor teething issues when first launched, however these generally do improve over time as the service matures.
  • Feature Differences. One important consideration is that a particular platform or software in the cloud may have different features to an in-house hosted solution. For example, on Amazon RDS, SQL Server operates slightly differently to the self-hosted SQL Server Edition. One gotcha for example is the different backup mechanism on RDS, where the backup is stored in an Amazon restore format rather than the traditional .bkp file due to the lack of access to the filesystem where your SQL Server instance is. You also cannot restore a .bkp file onto an Amazon RDS SQL Server instance at present.

So is BI in the cloud for you?

Here are some questions to help your self-assessment.

  • Do you already have data in the cloud?
  • Consider revisiting any existing BI tools – which functionality is lacking? What do you expect in the cloud BI to be different?
  • Are you interested in analysis of unstructured data?
  • Do you need to integrate different data sources? Do you need to integrate in-house data sources with cloud data sources?
  • If you are making a choice between in-house vs. cloud BI consider the investment amount as well as the investment structure. The pay-as-you-go model allows for greater investment flexibility and can often be seen as operational expenses.
  • What is the past user experience with BI / cloud software in your company? Do you expect any issues with user acceptance?

Altis has experience helping clients deliver value to their business by implementing cloud BI solutions. If you are considering a cloud solution and would like to discuss further with us how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

Author: Elizabeth Wu and Julia Gusman | Date: Thursday, July 03, 2014

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