"Why BI-Hive is using Open Source", an interview with Kencurth Richardson

Measure your performance with open source

Kencurth Richarsson, owner of BI-Hive, uses Open Source SoftwareEvery businessman or woman cherishes his or her best clients. No matter the size of the company, it is of the greatest importance to know who they are, what their needs are and how to keep them satisfied. BI-Hive provides software that help businessman and woman achieve this. And because the Business Intelligence tools of BI-Hive are based on open source, they are affordable and reliable. “With the touch of a button, you get an overview of your performance in the past year, financial reports or best client top ten”, says Kencurth Richardson, founder and owner of BI-Hive.

Data warehousing

The company name refers to a beehive that is swarming with Business Intelligence expertise instead of bees. The letters BI stand for Business Intelligence. Richardson: “We help other companies to develop, implement and manage software solutions for information processes. We are also involved in quick scans, audits, training, testing and web-based software development, but our core business is business intelligence data warehousing.”

A data warehouse basically is combining data from multiple and usually varied sources into one comprehensive and easily manipulated database, Richardson explains. “Companies use a lot of applications that are not linked to each other. Plain text documents or excel spreadsheets and not linked to other information systems within the company. By making a copy of all this information structuring it an integrating it in a data warehouse (centralized database) companies could obtain a bigger picture of their business and users could have easily access of this information if they are authorized.”

The next step is using Business Intelligence Tools to extract information from this data warehouse, such as information about the best clients or the performance during the past six months – basically anything that is measurable. “A phrase I often use is If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’‘, Richardson says. “When you measure your performance, it is easier to manage your business by taking the right decisions.”

Lower treshold

BI-Hive uses open source Business Intelligence Tools. “These open source tools make it easier for small and medium sized companies to compete with larger companies. Large companies often use licensed software, proprietary software, that can be expensive. With open source the threshold has become lower. Smaller companies now can use these tools to manage their companies. Imagine you launch a campaign. With a touch of a button you will know whether you had some benefit from this campaign.”

BI-Hive’s website gives further examples. Depending on which information is stored in the data warehouse it is even possible to monitor sector development, economic trends and consumer behaviour. “It all depends on what is useful for the company, what it needs now and what it needs ten years from now. There are small and medium sized companies that don’t use any tools, because they have no need for it. They have not reached that stage and want to keep information unstructured. Although that will be very time consuming and there are tools to improve efficiency for those companies as well. People often don’t know that efficiency can be improved.”

Richardson doesn’t only offer open source and open standard software, but also licensed software. The reason for this is that he used to work for two international companies, being Oracle Netherlands and Logica. “I can offer Oracle based services because I have the knowledge. And I don’t ask my customers to choose exclusively for open source software or for licensed software. Companies can also decide to use open source for only some applications. Open source and licensed software can co-exist in harmony. Most open source software is based on Java, which is platform independent (and became Open Source in 2009). In the end, the return on investment (ROI) is the most important for the client. But the investment in open source is always less, so the return comes sooner.”

Misunderstandings

Richardson says that one of the issues about which there still is a lot of misunderstanding is the compatibility with other software. “I’m not saying that all open source software is mature. Some programs are still being developed. But there is a lot of software that is solid, reliable and useful. There might be a million pairs of eyes all over the world looking at the code, trying to fix bugs. This in comparison to a group of employees in the research department of a company that sells licensed software.”

BI-Hive for instance uses the Business Intelligence Tools developed by Pentaho. About 8.000 people contribute to the development of Pentaho’s software, which generates revenue by offering technical support on a subscription basis. ”Matured open source software is reliable and has good support. The availability of support is very important when choosing all software, licensed or open source. The difference is that with licensed software you will have to pay for support in addition to a license for every employee that uses the software.”

A second myth is that people need to know much more about computers and have more technical knowledge when they use open source software. This indeed is a myth, Richardson says. “Open Office is almost similar to Microsoft Office. Any document from Microsoft Office can be read with Open Office. Open Office is also compatible with both Microsoft and Apple. Some features might be different, but using them can be learned easily. Once you have taken that step, you will experience that Open Office works perfectly. Furthermore, Open Office uses open standards, which means any document you write can still be read ten years from now. Because Open Source won’t disappear and is here to stay. We can choose to resist and struggle for some time, but in the end we will have to deal with it.”

BI Hive Caribbean BV
E-Commerce Park Unit B03.2
E-Zone Vredenberg
P.O. Box 3672
Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles
E-mail: krichardson@bi-hive.com
Website: http://www.bi-hive.com
Telephone: +599 9 524 4483
Article written by Otti Thomas, Two Sides Media

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