TUCON: Continuous Process Improvement Using iProcess Analytics

For the last breakout session of the day, Mark Elder of TIBCO talked about reporting and analytics with iProcess Analytics, their historical (rather than real-time) analytics product.. The crowd’s thin this time of day, although I understand that the lobby bar is well-populated; this was the same timeslot that Tim and I had yesterday, but the attendees now have an additional day of conference fatigue. Also doesn’t help that the presentation PC acted up and we were 10 minutes late starting.

He looks at the second half of any business process implementation: after it’s up and running, you need to measure what’s going on, then feed that back to the design stage for process improvement. iProcess Analytics has a number of built-in metrics, then wizard interfaces to allow a business analyst to build new KPIs by specifying dimensions and filters, then create interactive reports. It’s even possible to set different threshold values for filtered subsets of data, such as setting different cycle-time goals for different geographic regions.

He moved on to a live demo after a few minutes of slideware to show us just how easy it is to create a chart or report for a process, or even a single step within a process. The wizard looks pretty easy to use, although chart generation isn’t exactly rocket science. There’s some nice report distribution capabilities, much like what you’d see in a business intelligence suite, so that you can share a chart or report with other members of your team. You can’t do a lot of calculations on the data, however, but you can export tabular data to Excel for further calculations and aggregation.

One very cool feature is that for a given set of data that’s being used to generate a report, you can reconstruct the process map from the report data to see where the data is coming from, since process metadata is passed over to iProcess Analytics along with the execution data.

It appears that if you want to get real historical data into Business Studio for simulation, you’re going to create a tabular report in iProcess Analytics, export it to Excel, then save it as a text file for importing. Not as integrated as I would have expected — this needs to be fixed as well as more people start to use the simulation functionality within Business Studio.

It’s all browser-based, and can generate either the interactive web-based reports that we saw, or static HTML or PDF reports. It will be interesting to see how TIBCO moves forward with their analytics strategy, since they now have both iProcess Analytics and iProcess Insight (BAM). Although historical analytics and BAM serve different purposes, they’re opposite ends of the same spectrum, and analytics requirements will continue to creep from both ends towards the middle. Like many other vendors who started with an historical analytics tool then bolted on an OEM BAM tool, they’re going to have to reconcile this at some point in the future. There’s also the question, which was raised by an audience member, about the boundary between iProcess Analytics and a full BI suite like Cognos. Although there’s a lot of nice functionality built into iProcess Analytics that’s specific to analyzing processes, many customers are going to want to go beyond this fairly rudimentary BI capability.

That’s the end of day 2 at TUCON; tomorrow morning I’ll probably only be able to catch one session before I have to leave for the flight home. Tonight, 750 of us are off to the SF Giants game, where we’ll see if Vivek Ranadivé’s throwing practice paid off when he throws out the first pitch. Watch for all of us in our spiffy new TIBCO jackets; with free wifi in the stadium, there’s likely to be some geeks there with their laptops, too.

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