Big Data is far more than a hyped trend to Jaspersoft

Business Intelligence

by Claire Vanner| 07 February 2014

CEO Brian Gentile explains how Jaspersoft's BI software is managing Big Data that will change how we work, live and play.

Meeting with Jaspersoft's CEO Brian Gentile, it is immediately clear that he is passionate about Business Intelligence and analytics.

"One of the most important trends is Big Data, it's definitely a hyped trend, but it's a bigger deal than even all that," he says. "It will fundamentally transform the way we work live and play. There's really no corner of our life that won't be touched at some point by our new ability to deal with these new types of data in bigger volumes that ever before."

Having worked in the tech industry for 28 years, with names such as Informatica, Oracle and Apple on his CV, he speaks with authority on the evolution of data analytics.

"I've done all sorts of things in technology and I've seen an enormous amount of change. That's what keeps it interesting because it does change dramatically," he says. "Open source methodology has really accelerated in last 10 years to point where almost every enterprise has some mission critical software driven by open source."

Jaspersoft takes advantage of open source by offering free, downloadable versions of their software. They also go beyond the open source versions capabilities with commercial licenses for their more advanced software.

"Typically a customer will begin with us using the open source version and trade up to a commercial version of our product and pay an annual subscription rate for doing so. We've grown on average 40% for the last consecutive 5 years, about 30% of that revenue is from Europe, and the UK was the fastest growing country this year."

Jaspersoft has seen 16m downloads of its software and currently boasts 38,000 registered community members with 175,000 production uses of software around the globe.

"It's a testimony to the value of open source and the ability to use our software freely and broadly," Gentile says proudly.

As CEO of the reporting and analytics company, he makes it his business to be involved with the companies that use the Jaspersoft software and to examine customer use cases to better that software.

Jaspersoft works with Jagex Games Studio, the UK's largest independent Games developer and publisher. Jaspersoft software is used with Hadoop to capture 2TB of gaming data over course of day. That is stored in a 180PD Hadoop cluster (with a 40% provision) to analyse all the game users' behaviour in 'game telemetry'. A series of dashboards is produced at the end of the day to study the data and develop an action plan to find out what they need to improve or modify in the game to make it run more efficiently and more appealing to gamers.

"They use a series of these technologies to do this very efficiently and their use of the new Big Data techniques is impressive," says Gentile. "It's a lot of fun but it's not a big company. They can afford to do all this because the cost and complexity is so much lower."

Jaspersoft is promoting it's BI Suite 5.5 - a Business Intelligence reporting and analytics suite designed to help companies record and analyse data accumulated. "Some of the new features of 5.5 no doubt came from conversations with Jagex and customers like them," says Gentile.

Jaspersoft 5.5 includes new data visualisation capabilities for quicker, more interactive insight into key data trends, a new homepage for one-click access to tutorials and samples, enhanced cluster-aware caching for high availability. The general availability of Jaspersoft Studio also includes a full re-write of the iReport Designer, the company's signature reporting tool as well as pre-built report templates to speed the development and quality of reports.

"We built a bunch of sample reports with beautiful looking aesthetics as it turns out people would rather begin with a template than build their own. So we began with these best practice reports and templates so that customers can start there if they wish. That's not engineering, it's just being helpful to the customer."

Gentile continues: "We're almost a year now into the version 5 architecture and we've done a number of things to extend the original themes of the architecture. One of the most interesting is self service BI and the ability to turn data into meaningful charts and graphs and have it be so simple that business users can do it: it doesn't have to be someone extremely technical.

"Software, generally speaking, as it ages it gets bigger as more lines of software codes are added and it gets more complicated. So we try at each release to simplify it, which unsurprisingly leads to better performance. So we've taken great time in 5.5 to reduce the number of bugs and improve the performance so customers can enjoy a better quality product and a better performance experience."

Gentile goes on to explain the Business Intelligence trends that Jaspersoft is embracing. He speaks of a Jaspersoft customer called Fluensee that uses RFI tags that are so inexpensive, they can weave them into linens, like towels and bed sheets, and track the movement of the linens wherever they are. Hotels and restaurants that handle large amounts of linens have a high rate of lost linens, which is a big cost. So managing and monitoring the movement of linen can save companies a lot each year.

"This is made possible by the RFID tags and the Jaspersoft software for monitoring all the analytics and it is so inexpensive that it makes a solution like this possible," says Gentile.

He stresses the importance of embracing Big Data: "My theory is that every organisation has a Big Data opportunity, it's whether or not they understand it and they seize it. It may take time for companies to understand and seize their own opportunity, for some it will be more obvious than others."

He continues: "Big Data is bigger than what the headlines would tell you. It is being talked about inappropriately. We're not being practical enough in our discussions about what is going to do, which it making it feel like a hyped product rather than the transformative agent it actually is.

"Of course you have to marry Big Data with cloud technology to create scalable, provisionable, elastic solutions. When I say cloud I mean an architecture for computing system design that allows us to add resources horizontally and inexpensively. This allows us to create higher performance by an order of magnitude. It can be shared as a resource so its much more efficient.

"You can marry Big Data with cloud computing for scale and ability to create new solutions that would never have been possible otherwise," says Gentile.

"[Business Intelligence] is about making things more efficient, shrinking process time and increasing profit. The marriage of BD and cloud computing ultimately leads to better decisions, better workforce productivity and that's why we're here.

"The problem is in the past, really capable analytics has been the providence of too few people in an organisation. You had to have the right privilege to work with a tool to allow you to analyse data by education or by position. But most people could make better business decisions if they had a bit of data to go alongside that decision point.

He concludes: "Our job at Jaspersoft is to allow for just the right amount of analytics to be delivered to the right person at the right time. If it's too much it will overwhelm a person, it has to be relevant to the context of the decision. So we deliver a toolset that allows just the right amount of analytics to the right person, right place, right time. It represents the future of reporting and analytics and an effect of working productivity and ultimately improving profit."

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