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Doing More with Less: BI Lessons from Lebanon

The Ancient inhabitants of Lebanon, the Phoenicians, were known for their trade and commerce and the modern Lebanese continue to be very astute in business.

Despite the country being ravished by wars in the last few decades, the Lebanese have rebuilt and recreated their economy. They take both an optimistic and creative way to doing things and the results are impressive. The rebuilt business district in downtown Beirut is a good example of this. Yet, they have scheduled power and water outages daily, no public transportation system and internet speeds typically in the under 1 MB/sec range for most businesses and consumers.

However, the Lebanese have adapted to all these constraints. Every major building has a generator that kicks in when the power goes out, private water trucking companies refill water tanks when water is out and taxis and private mini-buses fill the public transportation needs.

As for the internet speeds, Lebanese businesses and people have worked within the speed constraints and tend to use on-premise or on-device software and build their applications so as not be too reliant on transmission speeds.

Dashboard Awards Winner

At the IBIS event last June, a Lebanese company, Bankdata, won one of the coveted best dashboard awards with a remarkably visual and powerful business dashboard for the Lebanese banking industry.  The dashboard was designed to look at the major statistics for Small and Medium Enterprises in Lebanon and compare them by a variety of metrics like Line of Business, revenues, employees, demographics and many more. This provides invaluable information to the many banks in Lebanon looking to attract and do business with these companies. Previously this information was buried away in a large annually published book filled with data that the banks subscribed to. Now this information has been literally brought to life through a truly amazing interactive dashboard that is now updated quarterly and soon to be monthly.

Going Offline

With the number of metrics shown, I was convinced this was a connected dashboard but on a recent visit to Lebanon to hand deliver the award, I was stunned to find that it was actually an offline dashboard and that all the data was embedded in the dashboard itself. The person who created this dashboard applied incredible ingenuity to include so many metrics and data in a visually compelling interface with super-fast response times. Of course, given the infrastructure constraints in Lebanon, it makes perfect sense to deliver this dashboard as an offline solution.

This was a great lesson for me too about doing more with less and fitting the BI solution to both satisfy the business need and work effectively with the resources and infrastructure available.

By the way, the Lebanese also apply this doing more with less to their driving. They can turn a car on a dime and park in a space with less than an inch to spare all round. They also follow the rule that the first one who looks, loses which made for an interesting and scary experience for this first time visitor.

About Paul

Paul Grill started his career in Information Technology in the U.K. in 1978, as an Executive Data Processing Trainee for Honeywell. More than thirty years later, he still has a voracious appetite for learning as Information Technology continues to advance at an ever accelerating pace. He was first introduced to the world of Business Intelligence in 1991, in France, when he saw a demonstration of an early version of BusinessObjects on Windows 2.1. He returned to the U.S. to rave about this phenomenal product, but it was many years before BusinessObjects made it into the mainstream. Paul founded InfoSol in 1997, and made Business Intelligence one of the key solutions offered by the company. Today, InfoSol is a leading SAP BusinessObjects solutions partner, known for its expert consulting, education and innovative add-on solutions. Paul is well known within the SAP BusinessObjects community for his extensive knowledge of Business Intelligence, and he has lectured and written many articles on the subject. Paul enjoys writing, running and coaching kids soccer, and is passionate about Ancient Egyptology.

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