I have been doing Tai Chi for about 4 years now and find it both a great stress relief and an excellent physical discipline. My instructor is a Shaolin Priest who has infinite patience (and needs to with my lack of coordination) and is always telling me to move my body the way it was designed to move. This is an interesting concept for someone like me who often walks into doors and was once escorted off an ice rink for doing serious damage to myself without travelling more than 2 yards!
However, my balance and body movements have improved tremendously since doing Tai Chi. This was recently displayed at my 50th birthday party where I impressed the hired belly dancer by balancing a heavy saber sword on its edge on my head AND walking the length of the room.
The art of Tai Chi involves moving the body slowly and fluidly with minimum effort. Slow does not always mesh well with fluid movement and this is the hardest part to learn. Try even walking in slow motion without any jerky movement – it’s like in the old Kung Fu series where he walks carefully on the rice paper and looks back to see it all ripped up.
Anyhow, this week it has been 110F in Phoenix, and I have been going to the pool daily since this is one of the few places to get cool. I go with my dog, who hates water, but likes to lay by the pool and watch me. So yesterday I had this idea to combine Tai Chi and swimming – gentle, fluid swimming with Tai Chi speed and natural movement. I figured breast stroke would be the best suited. While it was easy to move fluidly in the water, the slowness of the movement caused me to gently sink to the bottom of the pool. I eventually ran out of breath and was forced to sputter to the surface, gasping for air. This caused my dog to cock her head to one side and look at me as if to say “What on earth are you doing?”
So, I concluded that Tai Chi and swimming do not mesh well together. However, water is a great medium for Tai Chi so you can do both sequentially, just not at the same time.
This is true of current BI Dashboarding technology also. Dashboard software is designed for animated data visualization of summary or key performance information. On the other hand, BI Query and Analysis tools are designed for ad-hoc, drill-down and self-service access to data in large data marts or warehouses. If you try to do both simultaneously, it’s like swimming with Tai Chi moves, and you will sink to the bottom. However, you can bring these two worlds together easily by embedding the BI Query and Analysis tool within the dashboard, instead of trying to make the dashboard tool do what it is not well-designed to do.
A great example of this is the XWIS solution. Antivia, an Australian company, has developed a slick set of components that can be seamlessly embedded in the Xcelsius dashboard and provide direct access to the powerful ad-hoc Web Intelligence Query and Analysis tool. This is not just a cool solution but a simply brilliant way to combine the strengths of the two most “in-demand” technologies in BI today.
I am sure, in time, the two technologies will merge into a single product and, likewise, someone will master Tai Chi swimming. But, in the meantime, why struggle?