Dashboard Insight recently spoke with Ryan Goodman of Centigon Solutions about their business intelligence solutions and GMaps plugin for digital dashboards.
Dashboard Insight: Can you tell us the history of Centigon Solutions?
Ryan Goodman: I founded Centigon Solutions in 2007 as a consulting organization and expanded in 2008 with a team of hand-picked experts who share my passion for business intelligence dashboards. We quickly propelled our organization as a leading developer of add-on solutions for Xcelsius, (now SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards). In 2009, we narrowed our strategic focus to deliver the ultimate mapping solution for BI dashboards across multiple BI platforms starting with SAP BusinessObjects.
DI: Where does Centigon Solutions sit on the BI Stack?
RG: Our software solutions sit at the very top of the BI stack as map visualizations nested inside of dashboards built with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards. Because we couple software as a service mapping with on-premise business intelligence, we don’t rely on additional middle-ware layers between the dashboard and the map visualization. Our simple approach to mapping for BI is one of the keys to our continued success.
DI: Tell us about your customers, who uses your solutions?
RG: We are fortunate to serve hundreds of customers ranging from fortune 500s to small-medium sized businesses. Our customers come from a wide range of industries including retail, transportation, utilities, technology and government, across all lines of businesses. With a rapidly expanding and diverse customer base, we have collected thousands of interesting business intelligence mapping use cases. From CEO, to business analyst, to casual user, we have a full range of customer end users, which is something we have embraced as part of our product design process to meet an extensive number of real business use cases for geography based analysis.
DI: With the drastic shift in the global economy last year was Centigon Solutions affected? If so, how did you adjust?
RG: Because Centigon Solutions was founded during an economic downturn, we focused our energies to innovate, implement much needed process and infrastructure, and focused on ensuring the success of existing customers. In anticipation for an upwards swing in IT software spending, we are now flexible to expand our reach to new markets and delivery platforms.
DI: Please tell us about your dashboard product
RG: GMaps Plugin wraps our custom map design and visualization solution around Google Maps API Premier services. With direct integration into dashboard platforms like SAP Dashboard Design and Xcelsius, we have introduced point and click creation of maps for business intelligence. Designers can easily layer geographic points, shapes, images, heatmaps, and other graphical visualizations to align their business performance to geography.
DI: What makes Centigon Solutions’ approach to maps unique?
RG: Our approach to GMaps Plugin was to implement a cross-breed of business intelligence, GIS, and Web 2.0 technologies, to address a wide range of business requirements for interactive maps. Borrowing a development paradigm similar to Excel, designers can implement maps with no knowledge of Google Maps or coding which is important for businesses that do not understand GIS and do not want to code their own map solutions with the many map platforms available today.
DI: What dashboard platforms does Centigon Solutions support?
RG: Currently, GMaps Plugin is supported for SAP Crystal Dashboard Design, SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and Xcelsius. Through these integration points, GMaps Plugin can also be deployed through SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise, SAP Netweavr Portal, SAP Netweavr Visual Composer, Crystal Reports, PowerPoint, Word, PDF, enterprise environments like SharePoint and IBM WebSphere and HTML.
DI: Dashboard Insight is seeing an increase in dashboard solutions that support interactive maps, please tell us about your experience with this trend.
RG: I see two very important trends: The first is a significant increase in the volume of location based data for all facets of business. We can thank the cost of RFID, GPS, and other mobile technologies driving massive adoption by customers and database vendors that now support collecting and indexing this geo-data. As we move forward almost everything will have a digital signature making it location aware, which generates a demand by customers to put information in the hands of business consumers. The second trend (that drives demand for more robust mapping solutions) is the evolution of operational business intelligence, where businesses want to keep their fingers on the pulse of what is going on in real time. While technologies like in-memory computing take the spotlight, the interface for presenting this information will need to adapt to real time data. Location is a critical element to operational business intelligence and will increase in importance moving forward.
DI: Can you give us some examples of how your customers are using your maps solution for dashboards?
RG: One of our favorite customer use cases is an online grocery delivery company that distributes to residences and offices in the New York City metropolitan area. Using GMaps Plugin in an operational dashboard, dispatchers can monitor in real time at a street level any deliveries that are at-risk of being late. With a visual clustering of at-risk deliveries, on-call trucks are dispatched to proactively ensure the customer can make on time deliveries and provide the best possible customer satisfaction. Many of the compelling use cases for GMaps Plugin are for operational BI applications, regional tracking via alerts/heatmaps, and asset tracking.
DI: What is the process if someone wants to evaluate your solutions?
RG: Customers can download a trial from our web site, install it into SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard Design and then drag and drop map GMaps Plugin into their dashboard without any additional install or configuration. Without reliance on middleware on a server, customers can install and start using GMaps Plugin in minutes.
DI: What can we expect to see from Centigon Solutions in the coming months?
RG: We have several exciting initiatives including the release of GMaps Plugin 3.0, a content initiative to make map boundary data accessible to business intelligence dashboard designers. We are also currently developing GMaps Plugin Designer, a standalone design tool for creating map experiences for a variety of dashboard and business intelligence platforms.
Ryan Goodman is CEO of Centigon Solutions, an author, and an interactive data visualization expert. As a previous product evangelist and strategic sales consultant for SAP BusinessObjects, Ryan transferred his previous experience designing human-computer-interface experiences to implement hundreds of successful enterprise dashboards and now shapes Centigon Solution’s strategy to develop cutting edge maps solutions for business intelligence.
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