April 2019

5 Business Intelligence books you have to read

At Xpand IT, we believe that business intelligence goes way beyond reports and dashboards. We are expert providers of BI solutions, developing projects with the ever-present goal of adding value to any business. Many companies have already placed their bets on data analysis software, recognising the huge potential that such insights represent to progress. However, there is still a small percentage of companies unable to recognise the proper value of internal data analyses and which, therefore, choose not to provide them to their clients. And so, we’ve picked 5 great business intelligence books for you to read, to help you discover more about adopting a complete BI strategy suited to your own situation. In this digital era, we’ve chosen physical formats to help you understand modern BI strategies that you can implement, going way beyond the standard pattern.

As stated by John Owen: “Data is what you need to do analytics. Information is what you need to do business.”

1. Business Intelligence Guidebook: From Data Integration to Analytics

1st Edition, November 2014

This is one of the more comprehensive books about business intelligence and data integration, touching on simple topics as well as vastly more complex architecture. The author guarantees that after reading this book you will be able to develop a BI project, launch it, manage it, and deliver it on time and to a budget. You will also be able to implement a complete strategy for your company – supported by the tools he introduces.

If you’re looking for a reliable source of information, capable of explaining the best practices, the best approaches, and presenting a complete overview of the entire life cycle of a BI project, adaptable for companies of any size, don’t look any further: this is the right book for you.

2. Data Strategy: How to Profit from a World of Big Data, Analytics and the Internet of Things

Bernard Marr – 1st Edition, April 2017

The author starts from the premise that less than 0.5% of all generated data is currently being analysed and used, building a compelling narrative to convince company leaders to invest in business intelligence strategies, focusing on the benefits for business growth.

Complemented with case studies and real examples, this book explains how to translate the data generated by companies into insights to support the strategic decision-making process. This aims to improve companies’ business practices and performance, with a vital combination of Big Data, Analytics and Internet of Things.

3. Agile Data Warehouse Design: Collaborative Dimensional Modeling, from Whiteboard to Star Schema

Lawrence Corr and Jim Stagnitto – 1st Edition, November 2011

This is a book for professionals looking to implement data warehousing and business intelligence requirements, turning them into dimensional models, with the help of BEAM (Business Event Analysis & Modeling) – an agile methodology for dimensional models that aims to improve communication between data warehouse designers, BI stakeholders and their development teams.

If you want to implement this methodology in your company or if you’re just curious about this approach, we strongly recommend you to explore this book, which includes, amongst other topics, subjects such as data modelling, visual modelling and data stories, using the 7 Ws (who, what, when, how many, why and how).

4. Successful Business Intelligence: Unlock the Value of BI & Big Data

Cindi Howson – 2nd Edition, November 2013

This is not the most recent edition, but the wealth of information it contains still makes it one of the best must-have business intelligence books you can read. The author, Research Vice President at Gartner and BI analyst, has conducted a study with the objective of identifying analytics strategies implemented by some of the biggest players in the market.

This book provides much more than just theory. It is a valuable manual that tells stories and lays out successful BI approaches, explaining why the strategies implemented cannot be the same for every company. Additionally, the book includes tips on how to achieve an adequate alignment between a company’s BI strategy and its commercial objectives.

5. Business Intelligence – Da Informação ao Conhecimento

Maribel Yasmina Santos and Isabel Ramos – 3rd Edition, September 2017

This is the only Portuguese book on our list, and it’s very comprehensive, explaining the basic concepts of data analysis and demonstrating how BI technologies can be implemented – from the data warehouse storage process to the analysis of the data (online analytical processing and data mining), outlining how the resulting knowledge can be used by companies to support decision-making.

An essential book, whether you’re a professional searching for a complementary source of information or you’re simply looking for reasons to implement a business intelligence strategy in your company

If you would like to know more about some of the topics mentioned above, or if you want to implement your own BI strategy, get in touch with us today!

Ana Lamelas5 Business Intelligence books you have to read
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ITIL: sound practices to improve your IT service management

ITIL is an acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, a set of good practices designed to facilitate a significant improvement to the operation and management of all the IT services within a company. When implemented by an organisation, this set of practices becomes an unequivocally beneficial asset, as it comes with several advantages, such as the improvement of risk management, the strengthening of client relationships, an increase in productivity and reduced costs.

Developed in 1980 by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) – a British government agency – it is the primary framework for sound IT Service Management (ITSM). It began with more than 30 books comprising numerous sources of information, and describing good practices to follow in relation to IT services. Currently, ITIL runs to 5 books covering its various processes and functions (and a total of 26 processes that can be adopted by companies).

In 2005 the framework was finally formally recognised and given the ISO/IEC 20000 Service Management seal of approval for compliance with desired standards, and for being truly aligned with Information Technology best practice.

ITIL went through various revisions and there are now 4 different versions, with the most recent being released at the start of 2019. This updated version maintains a strong focus on automating processes in order to maximise professional time and the business integration of IT departments, in order to improve communication between teams and technical and non-technical staff. Version 4 features new ways to tackle the challenges of modern technology and its main goal is to become ever more agile and cooperative.

Reading current books on the subject simply won’t give you enough background to effectively implement ITIL for your company, however. You need to engage professionals dedicated specifically to the field, and guarantee adequate training and certifications for both the company and these professionals. Current certification, in accordance with the 4th version of ITIL, is divided into two levels: ITIL Foundation and ITIL Master – each one with its own unique examinations and programme content. There are two options under the ITIL Foundation module: ITIL Managing Professional (which certifies an ITIL specialist), and the ITIL Strategic Leaders certification (encompassing both ITIL Strategist and ITIL Leader certificates). After completing foundation accreditation, you can then leap into master level – the highest certification available in ITIL 4. You can review the full scheme using the table below:

ITIL

ITIL is divided into five major areas – Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operations and Continual Service Improvement – and each area has individual processes. Although this framework provides 26 processes in total, companies are not obligated to adopt them in their entirety. It is up to the IT professionals and ultimately the CTO to define appropriate procedures to integrate into teams. Below you can find some examples of the most commonly used processes:

ITIL
Ana LamelasITIL: sound practices to improve your IT service management
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Web content management

What is it for, what the advantages are, and what technologies are currently trending

A web content management system (WCMS) is the term used to describe a CMS (content management system), which is a set of tools for managing digital information stored on a website that also allows the user to create and manage content without any knowledge of programming or markup languages such as XML. WCMS is a program that helps users to maintain, control, change and adjust the content on a webpage.

WCMS behaves similarly to a traditional content management system – managing the integrity, editing and information lifecycle – but is specifically designed for handling web content.

The typical functionality of a WCMS system might include the ability to create and store personalised content on the website, with editors being able to review and approve content before it is published and configure an automated publication process. There is an increasingly greater need for such platforms to provide both creative options and accessibility, not just for content, but covering the entire user experience – solutions that manage the uploaded content and facilitate the monitoring of the entire user journey – regardless of the channel being used.

Pros and cons

There are several elements to consider when using a WCMS.

On the one hand, WCMS platforms are usually inexpensive and intuitive to use, as they don’t require technical programming expertise in order to manage and create content. The WCMS workflow can also be personalised by creating several accounts to manage different profiles.

On the other hand, WCMS implementations can sometimes be extremely costly, demanding specific training or certification. Maintenance can also incur extra expense, for licensing upgrades or updates. Security can also be a concern, given that in the event of a safety threat, hackers might explore vulnerabilities which could potentially damage user perceptions of the brand.

Choosing the right WCMS solution

With a WCMS, the content is predominantly stored in a database and grouped using the help of a flexible language such as XML or .Net.

There are several options using open-source WCMS, such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla for more generic functions. But there are also solutions that cater to specific needs, such as, for example, the Marketing 360 platform, Filestack and CleanPix.

And there are the commercial solutions currently on the market, such as Sitecore, a single platform that comprises several WCMS components, Content Personalization, Content Marketing, Digital Asset Management and E-Commerce. This is one of the major advantages of this platform, as instead of acquiring and integrating the different components that will consume content and information from an adjacent system, in Sitecore’s case, contact data and information and interactions performed through the different channels are already available in the platform, ready to be used and processed by different functions and for different purposes: creating campaigns, sending emails, creating marketing workflows and customisation rules, among others.

WCMS solutions provide different functionalities, with several levels of depth and specific purposes. Before selecting the platform, consider the following functionalities:

  • Configuration: ability to activate and deactivate functionality using specific parameters.
  • Access management: managing users, permissions and groups.
  • Extension: the capacity to install and configure new functionalities and/or connectors.
  • The ability to install models with new functionalities
  • Customisation: ability to change specifications to customise some features, through toolkits or interfaces.
  • WYSIWYG: capacity to provide a “What you see is what you get” mechanism, allowing content managers to know, while making alterations, what the users will see after launching a new version of the content. A good example of this is provided on Sitecore’s “Experience Editor”
  • Integration: ability to integrate the WCM solution with other previously installed solutions, or with external solutions in order to gather information from both ends; for example, integration with Microsoft CRM Dynamics 365 or Microsoft SharePoint.
  • Flows: capacity to incorporate a flow configuration mechanism for content approval and alteration, from different content creators with different profiles, plus content publishing.
  • User experience: editing is less complex, with built-in templates that add a predetermined functionality to the page, with no additional training needed.
  • Technical assistance and updates: consider the degree of technical support you will receive, as well as the level of accessibility for making system updates.

The advantages of WCMS

A major advantage of WCMS is the fact that the software solution gives you consistent control over the look and feel of the website – brand, wire frames, navigation – simultaneously granting the functionality to create, edit and publish content – articles, photo galleries, video, etc. WCMS can be the best solution for companies looking for a rich content repository, focused on brand consistency.

Other advantages:

  • Automated templates;
  • Controlled access to the page;
  • Scalability;
  • Tools that allow simple editing, via WYSIWYG solutions;
  • Regular software updates;
  • Workflow management;
  • Collaboration tools that provides users with permission to modify the content;
  • Document management;
  • Ability to publish content in several languages;
  • Ability to retrieve older editions;
  • Ability to analyse content across devices (desktop, mobile, tablet, watch).
  • Omnichannel content availability.

Our vision

Content management is a relevant topic, although not recent. However, a topic that gained a lot of traction during recent years is the capacity to use customised content, offering a relevant experience to all users. In order to achieve this goal, Xpand IT decided to go into partnership with Sitecore, because we believe it to be the best platform for addressing customisation challenges, benefiting from the aforementioned advantages and also exploiting the fact that Sitecore allows Headless implementations (separating the entire content from the presentation layer), as well as integration with mobile platforms (producing true omnichannel solutions). We are certain that this technology has a lot to offer and we are excitedly looking forward to implementing new functionalities, which will be available soon and launched with the intent of fulfilling our vision – offering relevant and personalised content for everyone, at any time, in any place.

Sílvia RaposoWeb content management
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