Sunday, July 10, 2005

What is Reporting?

Actually, this is another one of those annoying buzz words. We’re going to call it business intelligence or BI. BI software is simply a tool that allows you to extract data out of a database. We’ll continue this discussion for a couple of posts, just like with onboarding.

For our purposes, BI tools will fall into 3 main categories.

  1. Report or query tools embedded into database software at the application level,
  2. Reporting tools external to database software utilizing an ODBC connection,
  3. Analytical tools external to database using OLAP technology.

We’ll leave it there for now. We will also not going to discuss embedded “query” tools specific to a vendor or application. We’re also not going to talk about IT directed tools at the database layer.

First of all, I’d like to make my first assertion that organizations spend too much time and money on multiple disparate BI tools. Finance has one, HR has another, CRM has a third. There may be more for the ERP or whatever else is out there. Organizations that are organized will also have a data warehouse. Organizations that are advanced but not organized will have multiple data warehouses – each with its own OLAP tool.

The goal is to centralize BI. If you can centralize all of your BI into a single ODBC tool, create a data warehouse and centralized reporting out of that into single OLAP tool, all of your organizational data needs can be served out of a single platform.

That’s all for today, we’ll talk more about tools later this week.