Plex

I'm always amused by article headlines, especially in the tech world, that claim “XYZ is dead!” More often than not, this is simply a case of a provocative headline – because XYZ usually isn't really dead; it is just going through an evolution.

I couldn’t help thinking this when I read Doug Henschen’s InformationWeek article on Business Intelligence (or BI): “If BI Is Dead, What's Next?”

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Henschen says in the second sentence: "[BI] as we know it is in transition, becoming is just one element of 'a continuum of decision-management capabilities.’"

Notice that key word: “transition.”

At a base level, BI is nothing more than presenting data in meaningful ways so that good business decisions can be made. When you look at it this way, BI has always been part of said continuum. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that the entire “continuum of decision-management capabilities” is, in fact, BI.

Those following BI could even argue that this evolution has been going on for some time. It has long since moved from its data warehouse/OLAP confines to encompass a whole host of tools and capabilities; it's just that Tableau, QlikTech and Spotfire have highlighted this transition in the last couple years through their remarkable ease of use and speed.

The article also states that traditional BI locks users into fixed-schema data sources without a mechanism to create models for their own specific needs. In the article’s comments, Bruno Aziza, vice president of marketing for SiSense, wrote, "In the end, if you don't have models, if you don't have proper data management, beautiful visualizations are meaningless."

This is true – to an extent. But I would suggest that Plex Online itself is an excellent data model for ERP, with fantastic data management, based on a single source of truth, and therefore provides an excellent backdrop for powerful decision-making capabilities with the read-only reporting provided by IntelliPlex. 

That being said, one cannot deny the usefulness of the Tableau, QlikTech, and Spotfire…and fortunately, our Plex Online users can still use Tableau, QlikTech and Spotfire very successfully using our Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) connector product. I have created some really cool data visualizations using QlikTech with Plex data; check out the dashboard screen shot below.

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Do you think the death knell is really tolling for BI? Where do you see BI heading in the near future? 

Jerry Foster is vice president of research & development for Plex Systems, Inc., where he is chartered with undertaking research to design the next generation of software for the manufacturing enterprise. A founding member of the Plex Systems team, Foster has been heavily involved in the entire evolution of Plex, overseeing the technical transitions in each phase of its growth.