Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dynamic Expression evaluation in Informatica

Informatica is one of the leading Data Integration - ETL tool in the market for several years now.
One of the objective all the big ETL tool companies strive to accomplish is the need for data transfer speed with complex business rule transformations. Informatica provides various transformations in a typical source DB to target DB mapping. One of the recent advances included making expression evaluation dynamic. i.e expression string itself can now be placed as a parameter in the parameter file.

This feature provides avenues for materializing several ideas for dynamic rule changing. Let us take an example.

In this simple example Name is output port with following expression  : Name = First Name || Last Name

In normal situation, If the expression string needs to be changed so that target Name field to contain only initial character of Last Name, then mapping needs to be modified, tested and moved to production. Now if there was a mapping parameter created like $$Name and isExpression property turned to TRUE, then you could just assign required expression to the parameter in parameter file and use the parameter in the Name port instead of hardcoded concatenation string.

This feature become more practical in situations like bonus calculations, price formulas, scoring etc. where the change of expressions are more frequent.

Kiran Padiyar

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shopper step analysis

With every square feet of a retail space becoming expensive these days, retailer is continuously on lookout of new ways to optimize floorspace and enhance shopper experience.
How many steps a shopper has to take prior to finding the item?, how many times he goes back n forth? which is the most foot printed place?, are some of the key questions analysts need to answer to yield to optimized placements of items and promotions.
Large retailers already do market basket analysis and placement predictions using data collected in POS. Now using the cart movement on retail floor provides another dimension. Following is a grid showing sample shopper cart movement data.

On the left side are Cart ID and shopper's moving steps (Stops a shopper takes. Every stop is recorded by isle RFID sensors assuming carts are fixed with RFID tags). Columns in the grid show sections in retail shop, these are marked with point numbers. i.e in a ideal case, shopper navigates like point 1 --> point 2 --> .. point 10. Grid cells show sum of sales made(recorded at POS).
Following is a visual showing the heatmap of sales with customer's navigation behaviour.
Blank cells with grey color are sections where shoppers visited and did not make any purchase. Same visualization can be embedded over a shopfloor graphic to show navigation behaviors. 

Hope this post helped in tinkering some new ideas on retail analysis using your BI solution.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You see exactly what is shown to you! But how information should be shown to you?!

As we navigate through clutter of huge information, lesser and lesser time is at our disposal to understand it. We tend to rely on what is easily seen and rely on that information for decision making. Now you see that quality of what has been shown to you as of utmost importance to you. As most of the organizations rely on technical consultants working on dashboards/report developments following equation may hold good..
Quality and experience of BI consultant == Quality of information shown to you
Quality of information shown to you ==  Quality of information seen by you 
Now every leader sees the same thing, but interprets it differently. Job of a dashboard is to provide avenues to those new explorations with quick insights. BI practitioners should keep user focused on business objectives. Most of the time people who implement these BI visuals don;t understand the deep objective of the work being done.

Lets take a look at a part of BI dashboard snapshot of a travel company represented in two formats. 
First form is classical pie chart. second one is horizontal bars. 

Which one aided you to compare best?!

If you get access to book on Information Dashboards by Stephen Few, do read it, you will benefit a lot.  Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data

Monday, January 24, 2011

How Marketing Ad Campaigns can benefit from google map clustering and coverage radius overlays..

Ad Campaign Management involves lot of operational data originating from various agencies/sources like Market Researchers, Media buyers and Media Networks. Most of the data pertaining to campaigns are associated with certain demographics and geographies. Without proper visualization tools, wealth of information would be soon buried and opportunity to build intelligence is lost.

Advent in technology today allows us to optimize campaign operations and increase visibility provided we collect/ask for certain details from agencies along with their standard media reports. Multiple visualizations using maps enable us to quickly differentiate information with techniques like heat-maps, clustering and coverage radius overlays. While heat-maps overlays provide information density of critical measures over map area, clustering and radius overlays provide details on media specifics.

We will use 'meghaserve ACM' - Map Analysis feature to explain benefits of clustering and radius coverage.

Clustering visualization:
Take an example of Ad campaign targeted at a specific geographic area like India. The screen-shot on the right shows various Ad runs over planned media spread across the area.
Clustering allows to see large amount of data on the map with count of media shown. In this example, there are 2 media in the western region and 8 media in southern region on which Ads are running.
These clusters have dynamic responses, i.e if you zoom, map will start displaying more specific details on map.

Coverage Radius visualization: 

This is a another alternative to view Ad media coverage over the map. On left side are two snaps showing radius of outdoor media and newsprint media planned for the campaigns. Application provides great value for Brand Campaign managers during operations and analysis.
With configurable parameters like radius and colors, analysis takes new dimension and greater value.

To check other value added features of 'meghaserve ACM' app, please visit

Thank you