This article is licensed by iThome Weekly. DrivenBI has obtained the permission from iThome Publications Inc to translate this article to English version and releases in its website.
From iThome Weekly, by Chief Editor Jeffrey Lee on Oct 10, 2014
iThome Weekly is an enterprise IT professional media publication which reports on many kinds of enterprise IT topics. Grasping the time and profundity, iThome summarizes the latest news, conducts and reports on enterprise product tests and provides the newest and hottest information about products, techniques, industries and the trends to watch.
Jeffrey Lee is the Chief Editor at iThome Weekly. For this report, Jeffrey evaluated the self-service and ease of use of the SRK cloud based analysis platform by signing up for an SRK product trial and creating his own data analysis. The Chinese version of this report is available on iThome website http://www.ithome.com.tw/review/91284
DrivenBI SRK, a centralized platform to control and analyze data from CSV, XLS files
DrivenBI SRK is capable of providing a centralized environment to analyze and synchronize data in the cloud. It is a self-service engine without the need for editing individual CSV and Excel files manually. Assistance from IT personnel is not required for either creating application programs for the specific data or editing the Business Intelligence (BI) system.
After a long term development, the application of BI has been led by the large corporations, such as Oracle, SAP, IBM, Microsoft, SAS, Teradata, and MicroStrategy. Later on, several newly organized companies, like QlikTech, and Tableau, have emerged. At the same time, new conceptual applications that are different from the conventional BI have been introduced into the market. Self-service, real time analyses, SaaS services are examples. Most of the latest BI tools are able to provide the first two services mentioned above. However, it is rarely found the BI tool with all of the above unconventional capabilities in the market. DrivenBI SRK is the solution exclusively for it.
SRK is capable of providing a centralized environment to manage data in the cloud, but not using the conventional method. The conventional method relies on manual updating, editing, or aggregating data
from various individual Excel files. Plus, IT personnel are needed to create application programs for the specific data or editing the BI system to achieve the desired function on analysis.
The major user interface is a website, providing the functions of data management and analyses. It currently supports both Chinese and English languages, and can extend the support of other languages easily
When we share charts and reports, Excel is usually our first choice. The spreadsheet is then saved as XLS, XLSX or CSV and then sent out. Nowadays, some users are accustomed to using Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive/ Office Online services to share documents through the cloud due to its popularity, under the permission of their company policies.
Everybody works in this way; however, the prior condition is to require that all people are keen on the Excel operations. We rely on a single file to interact with each other. Although several Excel files can be accessed concurrently, we usually spend most of the time on integrating various sheets, matching data, or setting formulas so as to convert the raw data into different desired reports. After that, the business status is then understood.
Using Excel to create charts and reports is time consuming and, due to the human factors, errors are easily encountered. At that moment, IT personnel are needed for support. In some cases, a tailor-made program or report is suggested, ending up with spending more time on completing the task. When the business becomes complicated, IT personnel will get exhausted dealing with the calls on the data analyses.
To meet such requirements, lots of companies provide SaaS style business intelligent analysis services. SRK concentrates on the data sharing with various audiences on a daily basis. SRK is beneficial to the customers from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan because SRK provides the Simplified or Traditional Chinese languages to choose from besides English. If you want to see if SRK is suitable for your business, a 30-day free trial is available to be registered. Once the registration is completed, SRK is ready right away.
The DrivenBI official website uses iPad or iPhone to showcase SRK. Unfortunately, DrivenBI has not developed any apps for mobile devices on SRK yet. If you want to access SRK from smartphones or tablets, please use the browser to login.
SRK can pre-set the data import in CSV format. It also supports import from XLS or other formats.
After logging into SRK, you need to create an organization first and import the raw data that is going to be analyzed. The data can then be manipulated. SRK provides Express Import or Advanced Import. Express Import is mainly designed for an ad hoc activity and accepts CSV files. DrivenBI cooperates with the CRM cloud service company Salesforce.com, allowing SRK to support data import from Salesforce.com. On the other hand, if data are required to be imported periodically, Advanced Import is needed, requiring a computer to run the application as an importer to conduct the import procedure.
Two types of importers are classified, which are Standard Importer or Advanced Importer. Standard Importer is for the data files from CSV and XLS, the early version of Excel. Advance Importer is for the data from the latest Excel version, XLSX or from other website, database and FTP. Currently, Advanced Importer supports data from Salesforce.com, Microsoft SQL Server, FTP or the local hard drives.
After the setting is completed, SRK will work with the imported data to auto substitute value, truncate and concatenate strings, calculation on date, and so on. SRK can also take data from various CSV and XLS files and calculate the corresponding values. Manual fine tuning is allowed on the calculation. Additionally, no matter if the data is imported successfully or not, a notification can be preset to notify users of the status. It helps to identify whether re-importing or correcting data is needed, ensuring that the data being imported is exactly correct.
CSV, XLS and XLSX can be used to save data and they look similar. Why different importers are needed?
In reality, those files are not in the same format. SRK needs different importers to process and if XLS or XLSX files consists of two or more worksheets, SRK will only take data from the first worksheet. Therefore, users are likely to revise the format to match with the system.
It seems normal to put several worksheets into one single Excel file. However, DrivenBI does not concur with doing it in that way. Sometimes, when formulas are put in various cells, users will find it difficult to revise and view, creating errors easily. Jason Yuan, the Country Manager Taiwan of DrivenBI, said, “SRK treats every worksheet or table as a view, executing data analysis and calculation. Each view is saved separately and securely. Every related information will become more transparent and open, but not on a single file. Organizing data in this way helps on analyzing the preceding logic and carrying out the following processes in an effective way.
If the company wants to import the data source by the data warehouse ETL tool, SRK also supports ETL tool to carry out the import, helping to centralize data. Nowadays, SRK focuses on the data import from local hard drives or FTP. Apart from above, in the future, SRK will support other types of data sources, such as HDFS files from Hadoop, and the formats will include XML and JSON; for database, SRK will accept MongoDB, HBase and the like besides SQL Server that is currently supported.
Based on each worksheet, SRK can create different views, matching data and compute fields.
When you login to SRK, on the left side there is a menu. The organization name is shown on the menu. Below that is the URL, latest information and tutorial videos.
On the right hand side of the front page, you can see the assigned tasks that are being browsed by other colleagues. If you have done some analysis reports on SRK, the Page can show them.
From the website user interface, a business staff can carry out analyzing on a required topic and creates different views quickly. Comparing to other BI tools, SRK matches with the daily business more. It is because companies do not need an extra database, a long term data analysis work. SRK in the cloud service can analyze data immediately. Under such circumstance, the related information on the business perspective can be centralized at the cloud service maintained by DrivenBI, but not on an individual Excel file.
However, SRK is similar to most of the cloud based service systems, just from the user interface; it is difficult to fully understand how it works. DrivenBI has prepared many short videos (including Chinese) at the tutorial section. After viewing the videos, if you still have questions about the service, DrivenBI can arrange practical training for us, showing the process step by step for us to practice.
In SRK, most of the users spend time on creating Views. After the data is imported to SRK, the system will use Data Series to contain the data. Then, the system will create charts for the data automatically. Users can also make use of Custom Views to create the Views they want.
By building or editing the View, users can relate all data and use the function of Fields Matching, (matches different data with the same feature, also known as Join), Compute, Aggregate, Group by, to link up all the related the data, tailor-making the desired reports.
While creating the View, we need to complete the setting, and use the preview button to show the table. We have created three views, including matching, computing (e.g. multiple, convert from date to year), aggregate (e.g. sum and grouping).
We can create notification on the View function. When the data meets with the pre-set condition, the system can send an email to notify users automatically. We can set some limits and ranges for highlighting, allowing the table to fill with different background color on the background and text. On the other hand, if we want to change the raw data to be shown into other format, for example, currency, number, percentage, we can also do it here. The table can also be sorted by in the ascending or descending order. Master/ Detail can be used to set the priority on the value fields.
Charts are set easily and the preview is close to the real one.
After finalizing the View, we can use the View to create charts. SRK provides standard bar charts, stacked bar chart, pie charts, radar chars, line chart and area charts for users to select from. After defining X and Y axes, the chart will then be ready.
While setting up the charts, we can choose two different of chart types concurrently. The system will define the content positions, also known as Dual Y Axis. For example, two standard bar charts can be put together, allowing X axis to overlap the values and shape. A standard bar chart can be plotted with a line chart at the same time.
On the bar chart, line chart or area chart, we can set two sets of thresholds, the minimum threshold and maximum threshold. After setting colors of the thresholds, the relationship between the data and thresholds can be shown. If it is not obvious enough, we can use the highlight to apply a selected color on it.
After the setting on charts is completed, we can save the page and input the title, defining its security level, either for self or public. Then, the charts can be saved as a report, which can also be shown at the front page of the user login page.
Tasks can be created after building data analysis, to notify concerned people to pay attention.
As mentioned before, when we are in the process of creating views for analysis, some conditions can be set to alert other people who is related with the analysis data. Once the system finds the data matching the conditions, a notified email will be sent out. In fact, the reports created by SRK can also assign tasks of collaboration, allowing different users to work with the analysis at the same time.
Under the report view, creating a new task is simple. Users just select the record of data from the table and click on it, there will be a button to let you create tasks. Once the button is pressed, a new page will pop up. We can then assign a person who is in charge of this report
and whether to send a copy to other people or not. Inputting the task detail and setting priority follow as next steps. When the assigned person logs into SRK, the task will be shown on his front page.
Different themes can be created on the dashboard, combining various related analysis and charts.
After we create more Views, Pages (or so called dashboards) can be used in SRK to centralize all related charts. Generally, each page is able to contain three lists and six charts can be put on each list at most. Therefore, each Page consists of eighteen charts in total. By using the lists, users can compare multi charts at the same Page, helping users to observe and control more meaningful information easily. Analysts can organize related information with various perspectives.
SRK is now integrated to Salesforce.com cloud based services.
If your company uses CRM cloud based service Salesforce.com, your colleagues can access SRK service through the platform of the AppExchange software market. You can operate the related functions from SRK from Salesforce.com without opening additional websites. Under such environment, your company can combine various reports from Salesforce.com.
￼SRK accepts data being imported from CSV files and Saleforce.com reports.
Before users operate data analysis, data are needed to be imported to SRK. SRK provides Express Import and Advanced Import. Express Import is mainly for CSV files and reports from CRM cloud based services Salesforce.com.
Advanced Import supports files with more different types of formats
When importing a non-CSV format file, Advanced Importer is needed. To utilize this function, SRK Advance Importer application software has to be downloaded and executed at your PC. After the installation is completed, users can follow the instruction as described by the user interface to finish the data import procedures. Advanced Importer supports Salesforce.com, Microsoft SQL server database, files from your PC hard disks or FTP.
￼Six different types of charts are available, with showing the columns side by side and adding the upper and lower limits as a warning indication.
Besides overviewing the table, we can create additional features. One of the features is to create a chart. The system provides six different types of charts to be selected from, such as bar charts, line charts, pie charts, radar charts and so on. Under some chart types, SRK can show the bars side by side of the same group, showing the trends of the values from y-axis. Additionally, we can set the upper/ lower thresholds, preset the color of data at the defined range or highlight the data with different colors once the defined conditions are satisfied.
SRK is capable of showing the table’s master/ detail relation by sorting.
We can change the color of the data that fulfill the conditions. The same feature can be applied on currencies, percentages, and numbers that are commonly used, or even the preset display decimal places of numbers or symbols. Plus, the sorting order can be preset. To re-order the data field to the left and click on grouping, the master/detail relation can be displayed. For the number format data, there is a summation function and, while clicking on it, the subtotal will be shown in the table.
Computation can be formulated by selecting the corresponding field name and algorithms.
While creating views, we need to select the data sources from various data worksheets, and set a series of matching features. We can also create one or more fields to compute and use of the defined expressions, producing a desired report.
The aggregation and grouping features of SRK are user-friendly.
In the view setting, apart from creating and editing matching and computing functions, SRK also provides the summation function to return the sum of the data field. We can make use of the website user interface to achieve the functions, such as sum, average, count, maximum, minimum and so on, to manipulate the data. It is very convenience and easy to use.
- Suggested Retail Price: USD99 per month per Power User
- Phone: DrivenBI (1) 626-795-2088
- Website: www.drivenbi.com
- Data Import File Format: CSV, Salesforce.com reports
- Data Import Method: Website and software
- User Interface: Website, supporting English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese
- Audit Data Archive Period: 3 months
Note: Specifications and prices are provided by DrivenBI. Please contact DrivenBI for the latest information.