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October 13, 2011

So much has been written in the past week chronicling the life and leadership of Steve Jobs. One of my favorite articles actually distills 12 lessons from his life. No doubt, he created enormous value for his investors, customers, employees, and partners and literally enriched countless lives along the way. I hope to add another perspective to all the commentary as a nine-year Apple employee and an admirer of the drive, work ethic, and sheer productivity of what Steve was able to instill in those around him.


For me, there were three fundamental business lessons that Steve (primarily through Apple) instilled. These three lessons can be used to create value in any industry, and with Steve’s passing, I am reminded to exercise these lessons fervently in areas of my own interest (BI, open source, web-enabled applications). These lessons are important and widely applicable, but I leave it to you, the reader, to examine how they can be applied to drive superior results in areas of your own work or interest.


Long-Term Vision

In about 1989, Apple produced a short film called “Knowledge Navigator” primarily for internal use. This narrative film was set far in the future (estimated to be about 2011, by the way) and was designed to richly describe what the future of computing should be like, inspiring Apple employees to make the vision real. During the past week, this film surfaced and was heralded for its clairvoyance, because the iPad platform clearly resembles the Knowledge Navigator.


Further, this past week’s news about all-things Apple surfaced the fact that the company applied for patents consistent with the iPad design about 5 years prior to its debut. This type of long-term vision and beyond-the-quarter determination allows breakthrough value to be envisioned and created. This lesson reminds me that we too often look for quick, simple wins that provide only small, incremental gains. Aiming too far out is frightening and wrought with risk, but nothing else creates the leaps in capabilities that define new categories. May we all summon the courage required for long-term vision when it has the potential to make lasting change.

Disruptive Innovation

For a company to succeed once, it needs to disrupt the incumbents. For a company to succeed a second time, it must disrupt itself. This axiom, first said to me by Professor Gary Hamel and then conceptually popularized by Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School in his book “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, emphasizes the concept of disruptive innovation and the difficulty most successful companies face in disrupting their own success. Indeed, the economist Joseph Schumpeter originally authored the principle of creative destruction, owing its virtues to market capitalism itself.


Apple has a long history of disruptive innovation, most pointedly when Mr. Jobs was at the helm. The original Macintosh computer was a bold disruption not only to the emerging IBM-backed DOS computers of the time, but to Apple’s own products as well (the Apple II and Apple III, to be specific). Since Steve’s return, Apple has been a fountain of disruption – with the iPod alone transforming the personal electronics, music and gaming industries. Then, Apple used the basis of the iPod platform to disrupt the mobile phone market by creating the iPhone, essentially stealing it from the traditional handset manufacturers by recognizing a “smart phone” is actually a hand held, multi-network computer that happens to function as a phone when necessary. This was a radically different perspective that distinguished Apple from the incumbents.


Most recently, Apple once again disrupted itself by delivering the world’s most popular tablet computer, the iPad. Even when pundits worried the iPad could significantly cannibalize MacBook sales, Steve’s Apple powered forward -- placing greater value on defining and owning a new category of post-PC computing than maintaining its own status quo. That’s using vision to innovate disruptively.


Expect Greatness

Steve’s management and leadership style has been on review since the early ‘80s. The Steve that returned to lead Apple in 1997 was a very different man than the one who left in 1985. He had learned so much in the course of his career, building NeXT and Pixar. But one thing surely didn’t change: Steve always expected greatness from himself and all those around him. In his more mercurial moments, he unwaveringly demanded greatness, believing that anything worth doing is worth doing well (or in Steve’s case, doing insanely great). Past articles describe Steve’s total undressing of an initially unsuccessful MobileMe team, replacing the team’s leader unceremoniously and immediately. Greatness had been expected but not delivered.


In that expectation lied an important leadership lesson. If you don’t expect greatness, how will it occur? Steve showed me it won’t and that sometimes the bar just has to be raised. Having the courage to raise that bar for yourself and others and not yield to mediocrity is exhausting but necessary. Without the courage of these convictions, bold long-term visions and disruptive innovations are few and far between. Expecting greatness provides the canvas upon which the bold vision and disruptive innovation can be realized.


Steve’s death endows every technology leader with a deeper sense of responsibility to create a richer, simpler and (therefore) more powerful experience for customers. We can no longer simply look to Steve’s Apple for its exclusive magic to fill the void so often left by technology companies as they deliver mediocre products into the marketplace. I hope these three fundamental lessons help pave the way.


Brian Gentile

Chief Executive Officer

Jaspersoft


October 13, 2011

September 27, 2011

Advancing Mobile Business Intelligence

noreply@blogger.com (Brian Gentile)
( n/a )

I read on Twitter recently that talking about “mobile BI” will soon sound silly. We don’t talk about “mobile email” or “mobile calendaring”, so why should our access to critical data through reports and analytic views be any different? It shouldn’t.


The traditional BI vendors have recently put much energy into delivering mobile access techniques in their enterprise software offerings, creating an array of applications for the most popular devices. Their logic is to provide for a majority of the expected end-user features (reports, analytic views, etc.) on a mobile device but optimized for the reduced screen real estate. That sounds sufficient, right? Wrong.


Today, Jaspersoft makes available mobile BI access for the new IT world, along with a new version of our BI platform, v4.2. This new platform version delivers an array of improvements, including one of the most usable advanced filtering feature sets for ad hoc reporting and analysis that I’ve ever seen as well as support for a variety of new platforms (from app servers to databases and more). But, this release is all about mobile access – and herein lies the distinction between Jaspersoft’s approach to mobile BI and that of its traditional competitors.


Jaspersoft v4.2 delivers the BI industry’s first mobile SDK for creating native iOS (iPhone or iPad) applications. This SDK includes a sample iPhone app to enable a BI Builder to create a customized mobile application from an advanced starting point. Version 4.2 also includes elegant, fully-featured iPad enhancements that deliver a rich, browser-based experience for users of the world’s most popular tablet computer. Why did we provide mobile client capabilities in both native and browser-based formats?


Go Native

If we’ve learned anything after 8 years as a commercial open source company, it’s that our community and customers are incredibly clever and creative (BI Builders, every one of them). We know that trying to accurately predict everything that a modern BI user will want to do with a mobile computing device is not possible. By providing an iOS SDK and sample application to vastly simplify the job of creating native, custom mobile applications, we arm our customers with the tools and techniques to truly deliver a properly featured mobile app that solves their users’ needs. We expect this native approach to appeal especially to those who embed BI into other applications. Our native mobile client approach allows those embedded developers to extend and customize the feature set to suit the unique needs of their end users. Isn’t that what this new, mobile, cloud computing IT world is all about?



Simple & Consistent is Better

Because the iPad provides a lot more screen real estate than an iPhone, this device is well-served by some special browser enhancements that work exactly the way an iPad user expects. Which means multi-touch, gesture-based interaction with the full feature set of JasperReports Server entirely through a web browser. Report and dashboard creation as well as viewing and editing. Full access to the report repository (when granted by the Administrator) and multidimensional analysis for on-the-fly data exploration. All this functionality is made available simply by adhering to pure, web-based design principles. This simple, consistent method of accessing the Jaspersoft server enables the BI Builder to shine as the real hero, better satisfying the needs of the business users that require iPad tablet access to their critical data.


Mobile BI shouldn’t be different and separate. It should be normal, simple, consistent and delivered in a way that delights the user. Importantly, for mobile BI to be broadly used, it must conform to the application area of which it is part – which will likely require some integration and customization. Though the traditional BI providers have quickly delivered mobile client software, we all remember that the first email offerings weren’t the best. So Jaspersoft is pleased to extend the thinking and the model to help take mobile business intelligence to the next level.


Brian Gentile

Chief Executive Officer

Jaspersoft



September 27, 2011

Advancing Mobile Business Intelligence

noreply@blogger.com (Brian Gentile)
The Open Book on BI )

I read on Twitter recently that talking about “mobile BI” will soon sound silly. We don’t talk about “mobile email” or “mobile calendaring”, so why should our access to critical data through reports and analytic views be any different? It shouldn’t.


The traditional BI vendors have recently put much energy into delivering mobile access techniques in their enterprise software offerings, creating an array of applications for the most popular devices. Their logic is to provide for a majority of the expected end-user features (reports, analytic views, etc.) on a mobile device but optimized for the reduced screen real estate. That sounds sufficient, right? Wrong.


Today, Jaspersoft makes available mobile BI access for the new IT world, along with a new version of our BI platform, v4.2. This new platform version delivers an array of improvements, including one of the most usable advanced filtering feature sets for ad hoc reporting and analysis that I’ve ever seen as well as support for a variety of new platforms (from app servers to databases and more). But, this release is all about mobile access – and herein lies the distinction between Jaspersoft’s approach to mobile BI and that of its traditional competitors.


Jaspersoft v4.2 delivers the BI industry’s first mobile SDK for creating native iOS (iPhone or iPad) applications. This SDK includes a sample iPhone app to enable a BI Builder to create a customized mobile application from an advanced starting point. Version 4.2 also includes elegant, fully-featured iPad enhancements that deliver a rich, browser-based experience for users of the world’s most popular tablet computer. Why did we provide mobile client capabilities in both native and browser-based formats?


Go Native

If we’ve learned anything after 8 years as a commercial open source company, it’s that our community and customers are incredibly clever and creative (BI Builders, every one of them). We know that trying to accurately predict everything that a modern BI user will want to do with a mobile computing device is not possible. By providing an iOS SDK and sample application to vastly simplify the job of creating native, custom mobile applications, we arm our customers with the tools and techniques to truly deliver a properly featured mobile app that solves their users’ needs. We expect this native approach to appeal especially to those who embed BI into other applications. Our native mobile client approach allows those embedded developers to extend and customize the feature set to suit the unique needs of their end users. Isn’t that what this new, mobile, cloud computing IT world is all about?



Simple & Consistent is Better

Because the iPad provides a lot more screen real estate than an iPhone, this device is well-served by some special browser enhancements that work exactly the way an iPad user expects. Which means multi-touch, gesture-based interaction with the full feature set of JasperReports Server entirely through a web browser. Report and dashboard creation as well as viewing and editing. Full access to the report repository (when granted by the Administrator) and multidimensional analysis for on-the-fly data exploration. All this functionality is made available simply by adhering to pure, web-based design principles. This simple, consistent method of accessing the Jaspersoft server enables the BI Builder to shine as the real hero, better satisfying the needs of the business users that require iPad tablet access to their critical data.


Mobile BI shouldn’t be different and separate. It should be normal, simple, consistent and delivered in a way that delights the user. Importantly, for mobile BI to be broadly used, it must conform to the application area of which it is part – which will likely require some integration and customization. Though the traditional BI providers have quickly delivered mobile client software, we all remember that the first email offerings weren’t the best. So Jaspersoft is pleased to extend the thinking and the model to help take mobile business intelligence to the next level.


Brian Gentile

Chief Executive Officer

Jaspersoft



September 27, 2011

September 21, 2011

As I take over responsibility for the Jaspersoft Open Source Community, I look forward to expanding on our past success and creating an even more vibrant developer, customer, and partner community. I do not plan to, nor can I, do it alone.  I need your ideas, suggestions, and participation to make the Jaspersoft Open Source Community the most vibrant and energetic community in the World.

read more

September 21, 2011

As I take over responsibility for the Jaspersoft Open Source Community, I look forward to expanding on our past success and creating an even more vibrant developer, customer, and partner community. I do not plan to, nor can I, do it alone.  I need your ideas, suggestions, and participation to make the Jaspersoft Open Source Community the most vibrant and energetic community in the World.

read more

September 21, 2011

August 17, 2011

Self-Service Knowledge for Everyone

noreply@blogger.com (Brian Gentile)
( n/a )

Having the right piece of knowledge at the right time is pure gold in business. I rarely speak with a commercial Jaspersoft customer without hearing a fascinating anecdote about how they are using our BI tools to make new insight emerge quickly and affordably within their organization. Of course, this is what we are in business to provide.

The Jaspersoft Community is no different. Consequently, our open source customers need information and insight to get the most out of their experience with our projects and products. For nearly two years, we’ve talked internally about how to deliver more comprehensive knowledge to this community that is more consistent with the knowledge we’re able to deliver to commercial customers, but in a scalable, virtual manner. With the launch and availability of Self-Service Express, we’re now able to begin delivering on this goal.

Jaspersoft serves a big community. Our latest stats show more than:

• 14 million downloads of our product (lifetime),
• 230,000 registered community members,
• 175,000 production deployments of our tools, and
• 14,000 commercial customers across the globe.

This spring, we surveyed our community to learn more about its appetite for more formal, professional knowledge about Jaspersoft community products. The responses were consistent with our intuition. More than 80% of respondents declared interest in having access to better technical knowledge, even for a modest fee.

Our Community Advisory Board affirmed this interest, with member Ben Uphoff stating: “Self-Service express will help me and my team become more productive as we build reports and dashboards for our users. The enterprise search capability means we can quickly find what we are looking for and the rich documentation and customer knowledge base provide us with a lot of useful and practical how-to information.”

Self-Service Express is a clever combination of our new enterprise search engine, our fast-growing Knowledge Base, and newly-created access to all of our professional technical documentation (commonly known as “Ultimate Guides” but in a searchable PDF format). The result is this powerful yet inexpensive knowledge service that allows any Jaspersoft customer, community or commercial, to gain fast, accurate technical answers that can help drive more successful BI projects.

This is the first of a series of knowledge services that we’ve envisioned, and we look forward to more community feedback to determine which direction we go from here. Let us know what you think about Self-Service Express. In the meantime, we’ll continue to advance the knowledge components of this first service, driving greater value through insight to all those who use it.

Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer
Jaspersoft

August 17, 2011

Self-Service Knowledge for Everyone

noreply@blogger.com (Brian Gentile)
The Open Book on BI )

Having the right piece of knowledge at the right time is pure gold in business. I rarely speak with a commercial Jaspersoft customer without hearing a fascinating anecdote about how they are using our BI tools to make new insight emerge quickly and affordably within their organization. Of course, this is what we are in business to provide.

The Jaspersoft Community is no different. Consequently, our open source customers need information and insight to get the most out of their experience with our projects and products. For nearly two years, we’ve talked internally about how to deliver more comprehensive knowledge to this community that is more consistent with the knowledge we’re able to deliver to commercial customers, but in a scalable, virtual manner. With the launch and availability of Self-Service Express, we’re now able to begin delivering on this goal.

Jaspersoft serves a big community. Our latest stats show more than:

• 14 million downloads of our product (lifetime),
• 230,000 registered community members,
• 175,000 production deployments of our tools, and
• 14,000 commercial customers across the globe.

This spring, we surveyed our community to learn more about its appetite for more formal, professional knowledge about Jaspersoft community products. The responses were consistent with our intuition. More than 80% of respondents declared interest in having access to better technical knowledge, even for a modest fee.

Our Community Advisory Board affirmed this interest, with member Ben Uphoff stating: “Self-Service express will help me and my team become more productive as we build reports and dashboards for our users. The enterprise search capability means we can quickly find what we are looking for and the rich documentation and customer knowledge base provide us with a lot of useful and practical how-to information.”

Self-Service Express is a clever combination of our new enterprise search engine, our fast-growing Knowledge Base, and newly-created access to all of our professional technical documentation (commonly known as “Ultimate Guides” but in a searchable PDF format). The result is this powerful yet inexpensive knowledge service that allows any Jaspersoft customer, community or commercial, to gain fast, accurate technical answers that can help drive more successful BI projects.

This is the first of a series of knowledge services that we’ve envisioned, and we look forward to more community feedback to determine which direction we go from here. Let us know what you think about Self-Service Express. In the meantime, we’ll continue to advance the knowledge components of this first service, driving greater value through insight to all those who use it.

Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer
Jaspersoft

August 17, 2011

August 3, 2011

A New Community Leader for a New Age!

noreply@blogger.com (Brian Gentile)
( n/a )

Congratulations to Matt Geise, who was just named Jaspersoft’s Open Source Community Development leader. Matt’s job is to build, nurture, and enable a thriving Community of open source business intelligence software fanatics. It’s a big job and Matt is just the right person to lead our next generation of work with the Jaspersoft Community.

In his book, “Art of Community”, Jono Bacon declares: “Every software project, online site, or company has to manage the community of interested people surrounding it. The community is the source of new ideas, a reliable support network, and the best marketing tool.” Jono has long been a leader and advocate for successful technical communities and he always has something to say about them. You can follow his updates and thoughts here.

Those like Jono, with experience building, leading and managing technical communities, talk about the skills and methods that make those communities vibrant and healthy while recognizing that they are organic, living things. Communities need organization, leadership, enablement, nurturing, as much as they need autonomy and self-sustenance. Successfully building the community requires all of this and more. So, the chemical make-up of the community leader is vital.

Matt has always been a proud PART OF the Jaspersoft community. First as an operations manager and then as our technical customer support leader, Matt has been on the frontline with our customers and community members every day while at Jaspersoft. He knows what works and what doesn’t and he isn’t easy to please. As a fierce advocate for the community’s needs, Matt will work alongside each of our key project leaders (including Teodor Danciu and Giulio Toffoli, the leaders of JasperReports and iReport/Jaspersoft Studio, respectively). For this advocacy, Matt is already known and well respected.

Maybe most importantly, Matt has a clear but malleable vision for the next generation of Jaspersoft’s community. He will deliver big results for and with the community – because he listens and understands as often as he speaks and declares. Stay tuned for a variety of tools, programs, and projects that help take the Jaspersoft community into a new age. Matt has my thanks and congratulations . . . and he’s just getting started.

Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer
Jaspersoft

August 3, 2011

A New Community Leader for a New Age!

noreply@blogger.com (Brian Gentile)
The Open Book on BI )

Congratulations to Matt Geise, who was just named Jaspersoft’s Open Source Community Development leader. Matt’s job is to build, nurture, and enable a thriving Community of open source business intelligence software fanatics. It’s a big job and Matt is just the right person to lead our next generation of work with the Jaspersoft Community.

In his book, “Art of Community”, Jono Bacon declares: “Every software project, online site, or company has to manage the community of interested people surrounding it. The community is the source of new ideas, a reliable support network, and the best marketing tool.” Jono has long been a leader and advocate for successful technical communities and he always has something to say about them. You can follow his updates and thoughts here.

Those like Jono, with experience building, leading and managing technical communities, talk about the skills and methods that make those communities vibrant and healthy while recognizing that they are organic, living things. Communities need organization, leadership, enablement, nurturing, as much as they need autonomy and self-sustenance. Successfully building the community requires all of this and more. So, the chemical make-up of the community leader is vital.

Matt has always been a proud PART OF the Jaspersoft community. First as an operations manager and then as our technical customer support leader, Matt has been on the frontline with our customers and community members every day while at Jaspersoft. He knows what works and what doesn’t and he isn’t easy to please. As a fierce advocate for the community’s needs, Matt will work alongside each of our key project leaders (including Teodor Danciu and Giulio Toffoli, the leaders of JasperReports and iReport/Jaspersoft Studio, respectively). For this advocacy, Matt is already known and well respected.

Maybe most importantly, Matt has a clear but malleable vision for the next generation of Jaspersoft’s community. He will deliver big results for and with the community – because he listens and understands as often as he speaks and declares. Stay tuned for a variety of tools, programs, and projects that help take the Jaspersoft community into a new age. Matt has my thanks and congratulations . . . and he’s just getting started.

Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer
Jaspersoft

August 3, 2011

August 1, 2011

Short tutorial, shows how to schedule a report, how to change the way you are prompted for parameters and some basic editing of reports within iReport

August 1, 2011

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