All of the topics discussed here in this blog comes from my real life encounters. They serve as references for future research. All of the data, contents and information presented in my entries have been altered and edited to protect the confidentiality and privacy of the clients.

Various scenarios of designing RPD and data modeling

Find the easiest and most straightforward way of designing RPD and data models that are dynamic and robust

Countless examples of dashboard and report design cases

Making the dashboard truly interactive

The concept of Business Intelligence

The most important concept ever need to understand to implement any successful OBIEE projects

Making it easy for beginners and business users

The perfect place for beginners to learn and get educated with Oracle Business Intelligence

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Interview for OBIEE position and how to succeed

Hello All

Today's topic is everybody's favorite, that is about interviews. Interview is a pain in the ass and it is for a lot of people. The more senior you are (or you think you are), the more you dislike interviews. Doing the work and talking about your work are completely two different things. When you are at work, you may run into challenges, but at least you don't have to come up with a working solution in the next 30 minutes if you can't. However in interviews, you are expected to provide proper responses in 5 mins. Therefore, if you want to excel at interviews, you should prepare yourself on your emotional intelligence, not so much on memorizing the things you can google.

Some of the mostly overlooked questions are:

Tell me a little bit about yourself, in particular, your experience related to OBIEE, BI Apps, Informatica, project management etc.

What is the most challenging problem you have encountered in your past experience with OBIEE, BI Apps, Informatica, project management etc, and how you solved that problem.

What is your approach to _____?

See, these are open-ended questions, depending on how you respond, the interviewer can throw anything at you. But first and foremost, it is important to prepare a well structured response to all these questions before any interviews. You don't have to memorize your speech word for word, but you do need to follow your structure. Over time, based on your growing experience of interviews, you might refine your speech.

Oftenly, interviewers aren't much better than you either. However, they are in the position to make decision, therefore, you need to learn to interact with them properly.

Sometimes, interviewers make random comments at your responses that may affect you emotionally. You were describing how great your previous project was, or how complex your design was and then here he comes with 'That's not a big deal.' or 'Aren't you over-complicating things? ' or even 'How is that going to work?'. Suddenly, you feel you have been disrespected, looked down on or misunderstood. This is very common among experienced job candidates.  The more experience you have, the more likely you will resist other's criticism, especially in the engineering fields where people rarely worked on people skills. You have been through so many rounds of technical discussions at work, you are so used to arguing with your coworker and you always win, therefore, you can't handle when people don't show appreciation of how great you think you are during interviews. Your subconscious will look at this interaction just as another technical discussion or even a 'political fight' in the office. You start raising your voice and so does the interviewer. At the end, you may win the argument, but lose the interview; or this verbal exchange will leave a significant mark on your psyche that after that all you are doing is mumbling to yourself with 'this guy is an asshole' and you totally forget about the fact that the interview isn't over.

Over the years of interacting with engineers and managers, I have realized something when it comes to technical discussions. If it occurs during the interview, it's easy. Just answer the question with whatever you know, don't worry about trying to convince the other person. If the interviewer is saying something you don't like, just take it easy. Reply with 'ok, that's interesting you said it', 'ok, I see your point' or 'What you said also make sense, I think we can definitely discuss this in more details off line.'. For God sake, just get over with this question and go to the next, if the interviewer wants to show off his knowledge, that's even better, let him do all the talking, he might enjoy so much that he would hire you based on that. Now of course, if you are applying for management, sales or customer service jobs, that's different. For engineering jobs, the less you talk the better it is.

In today's world, the competition in IT is getting fierce, especially in niche markets like OBIEE, Hadoop, Salesforce, Tibco where there are plenty of candidates, the interviewers rarely ask questions where you can google the answer anymore. They want to find out whether you really have experience or not. Therefore, a lot of questions are open-ended, opinion based questions. While it is important for you to prepare your speeches, it is just as important to realize that there is nothing wrong with you if you don't get the job after.

Everything happens for a reason. How you perform during your interview is always an accurate reflection of where you stand in the job market and your relationship with this particular interviewer. There is no surprise no matter what the outcome is. Take it easy. Try to learn something from the interview if there is anything to be learned, remember the questions that you couldn't answer and research on it afterwards. Do what you can to improve your chance for the next interview. If you fail, don't take it too seriously. I have worked in this field for long enough time that I personally can tell you that you can rejected for all kinds of reasons that it might even sound ridiculous to you. Just chill out, don't think about the interviews after it's done.

Hopefully, after working in the field for long enough time, you build up your personal network well enough that opportunities will get referred to you rather than you having to apply and compete for it. Building contact is one of the most important things to do in life and that's how you can minimize your chance of getting interviews in the future.

Until then:

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Create Pixel Perfect Report using BI Publisher that includes charts, tables and dynamic SQL query


This time I want to share with you how to create a pixel perfect BI Publisher report out of an existing dashboard that includes different type of reports.

When it comes to reporting, the BI Dashboard is highly interactive, it allows navigation, ad-hoc query and other dynamic features. That's the value of OBIEE. However, sometimes when you want to send the results with pdf or other formats, it is not so pixel perfect. In some areas people don't mind, but in a lot of inter-company communications, the version has to be pixel perfect. I mean, have you ever seen an invoice letter from your bank that's components are out of proportion? This is why BI Publisher has been integrated into the OBIEE platform.

Take a look at the following dashboard:

It has multiple charts, tables and texts arranged in a articulated way. There are even reports created using direct SQL query:

So reports like the following are regular reports displayed in charts or tables:

Some reports like the following are created using direct SQL with presentation variables passed from the dashboard prompt:

So lets see how we can create the same version using BI Publisher which is pixel perfect when you print it out.

We will start by creating new data model. In the data model windows, go to diagram and select Oracle BI Analysis for the reports that are created using regular approach. I then locate all of the saved BI analysis that I want to create, just select them one by one.

For the one that are created using SQL query with presentation variable, you need to change the data set to using SQL Query and paste the SQL query into the windows:
As shown in the screenshot, the syntax of the presentation variable will need to be changed from @{PV} to :PV:

After these are done, close the box and it will automatically ask you to create parameters. Just create the parameters with the same Presentation variable name and give default value:

After some times, all of the data sets (each one corresponds a BI Dashboard analysis) are create as shown:

Now save the data model:

Now create new BI Report using the data model that just created as the data source. While creating and going through each windows, it will ask you for layout templates or add tables, just click next and go through them without doing anything:

Then save it:

Now open the saved report. It is going to run and most likely it will not return anything. But it will allow you to edit report, so do just that:

It will open up a blank template, this is where you can feel free to design your own report arrangements:

One the left side, all of the data set that you created earlier for that data model will be available to be put on the blank sheet.

The insert type on the top of the sheet allows you the insert all kinds of objects, from gauages to tables to charts. I used layout grids to break this blank sheet into different smaller subdivisions and then insert each of the reports into those subdivisions:

The properties on the left side of the sheet allows you to adjust it's size, color and arrangement to make it look good:

After it's done (these are not technical work, it is more tedious art work), save the report. 

Now we can add this report to the original BI Dashboard:

The BI came be launched here:

Now after launching the BIP report, it has to pass the value of the BI dashboard:

The result is working:


Until next time
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