Farmers Insurance Telemarketing Sucks

Just had a very annoying automated message from Farmers Insurance. It starts off with badly mispronouncing my surname, states that there is a very important message concerning our policy, and then asks that you press any button to continue. Since it was one machine talking to another, no buttons were pressed. But it continued anyway. The "very important message" was that the policy was coming up for renewal [it had actually renewed last month], and that I should talk to my agent to take advantage of their other solutions for my insurance needs. :lalala:

So, no important message, just a sales pitch.

But then it ends with "If you have already made your payment..."

What?!? I have an automated payment set up with them. And yes, it was taken from my checking account on time.

I would guess that this is just a ploy to get you to call the agent so that he can press the sale.

Time to shop for a different insurance carrier. XX(

Float in Project Time Management

Whether one is a project manager for an Open Source Business Intelligence Project or any project for that matter, managing and monitoring project schedules are very important. One must continuously monitor schedule to actual work performed to ensure that the project stays on target. Delays in the project schedule affect all the aspects of the project.

In our project engagements one (with respect to Time Management) of the project performance reports we do is Float Analysis.

Float Analysis
Click to view original size

The concept of float is integral to Critical Path. Float or sometimes referred to as “Slack” can be thought of as the maximum time an activity can slip without delaying the end date of project. As a quick way of looking at a float for a network diagram, if an activity is on the critical path, it has a zero float. (I have read some technical cases where this is not always true but it is still a quick way to look at it &#59;D) Simply, the activity with zero float has no time buffer or allowance for work slippage, i.e., if the activity is not finished on time, it will cause the project to fall behind schedule.

If we look at the example of the previous blog post, Critical Path in Schedule Management, the sample durations are:

Click to view original size

If you look at this simple example, all the activities are in the critical path since the critical paths are:
Start-A-B-E-F-C-End and Start-D-B-E-F-C-End.

Remember though that when managing the schedule and critical activities of your project, the other aspects of the project - Scope, Cost, Quality, Resource Management, Communication, Risk, and Procurement Management should not be neglected or have less emphasis.

Open Source Business Intelligence Adoption

According to the August 2005 TDWI Report Series,

Enterprise BI Licenses Costs up to $700,000 for 1000 users, not including Training or Premium Support Services.end quotation

Cost has been a motivator to moving to Open Source Business Intelligence (OSBI). But, why are large enterprises not fast enough in Open Source BI adoption?

I believe some of the challenges to moving to OSBI by large enterprises with existing BI implementation include but not limited to:

  • Investment: Large enterprises have spent millions of dollars in their current BI infrastructure as well as staff training. Would they easily throw that away?
  • Resistance to Change: It is human nature to resist change. As human beings, we fear what we don’t know. There is the politics involved in moving to an OSBI solution. I have seen users and administrators become attached to how they do things and using a particular tool is part of “how we do things”.
  • Changes to Operational Procedures: For BI administrators, changing tools and infrastructure means a disruption to the current and working set of operational procedures.
  • View of Career Threat: I’ve seen push backs when people think their careers will be in jeopardy because they are not knowledgeable in it. In the tough job market, people get worried that their job will go away because a new software or tool is going to be deployed.

I am sure there are other challenges out there. OSBI tools have a lot to offer. For instance, OSBI tools can be used to prototype new implementation. Developing a prototype is a good way to confirm that the design and technologies used will meet the enterprise BI needs. The OSBI prototype can be extended to see data validity or to assess data cleansing needs.

There are many possibilities but many challenges as well. Each challenge has a solution. For instance, when it is viewed as a career threat, it can be repositioned to appeal to one’s love of learning and playing with new “toys”. In adopting new technologies, cost, technologies, people and culture matter. Positioning OSBI as providing value with respect to cost, technologies, people and culture will go a long way.

Colombo's Deli

Last week we had a meeting with Emil and Kathy of Colombo's Delicatessen. We're developing some hosting solutions for their web presence. Over the past year, their site has been stagnant as they've developed other aspects of their business.

It was wonderful to see how enthusiastic they are for extending the relationships and atmosphere of their deli onto the web. Of course, one of the fun things of working with someone in the food industry is getting to eat while you work. Kathy broke out some tasty items including some incredible olive oil AND the olives that make up the oil - both of which can now be bought at Colombo's in Pacifica.

Other fun came from the excitement generated by planning out a recipe wiki for Kathy, and associated publish-on-demand monetization opportunities, and from Emil breaking out some Italian music he wants to be available on the site.

Go, eat, tell them we sent you.

Rick Mortensen

We had an interesting conversation with Rick Mortensen, CEO of MARVELit. He has a long background and a wealth of experience in developing and deploying BI solutions. The MARVELLit open source Dash Portal project came about from his own pain over the years of not being able to quickly and economically deploy BI solutions using the large, complex, expensive closed source BI products. Rick showed us how he does RAD style prototyping over the web using a private, secure demo site, by walking us through such a site he has operating for a current customer. Rick also explained their business model to us, including the use of firm-price, fixed-length engagements, called DASHpaks. Another result of Rick's experience both with BI and with open source, is the company's commitment to documentation. Rick showed us the upcoming documentation wiki, and it already surpasses most open source project documentation that we've seen.

We're going to be doing a series of podcasts with Rick over the next couple of months so he can tell you more in his own words. In the meantime, check out the demo at url.

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The TeleInterActive Press is a collection of blogs by Clarise Z. Doval Santos and Joseph A. di Paolantonio, covering the Internet of Things, Data Management and Analytics, and other topics for business and pleasure. 37.540686772871 -122.516149406889



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