OnDemand Information Browsing — Was Malcolm Gladwell Right?

SAP BusinessObjects Polestar, introduced last year, provided a new way of "browsing" available information, without having to explicitly create queries.

Now the SAP BusinessObjects Lab team have introduced a preview of Polestar OnDemand that allows you to upload any data set you like and then interactively browse through the information. It’s part of an overall approach to combine the best of on-premise and SAAS BI into a single combined solution.

I decided to play with the solution, and within a few minutes, I was able to check one of the stories in Malcom Gladwell’s book, "Outliers: The Story of Success" (well worth reading). Early in the book, he notes that your chances of becoming a successful professional hockey player are hugely determined by what month you were born in — kids born in January tend to be bigger than their classmates and score more goals, which results in more motivation, more coaching, and ultimately more success.

I took the sample spreadsheet, augmented it slightly to add birth quarter, and then let Polestar OnDemand suck up the spreadsheet. To my delight, when I chose "games played" as a measure of professional success, it immediately worked out that the most important influencing variable was birth quarter, with the graphic below showing a perfect correlation with birth quarter and number of games!


Further exploration showed that it turns out that you get roughly the same results whether you use "goals scored", "points", or the other available measures (presumably because these are highly correlated with games played).

I think Polestar is a great solution made even greater OnDemand — but I’m biased. See if you think the same — watch the video (2:30 minutes), and take a look at http://polestar.ondemand.com



  1. It’s only on a small server so far — don’t be surprised if it’s slow or unresponsive when you try and use it
  2. When uploading, make sure you click on the letters "GO" — the rest of the button is unresponsive