Archive for "December, 2010"

Data Warehouse Subject Areas

Data Warehousing, Posts Dec 27, 2010 No Comments

Subject areas within a data warehouse or data mart are physical tables that are grouped together in a dimensional model or star schema that reflect general data or functional categories. Subsequently, subject areas are synonymous with functional areas and each subject area identifies and groups the data that relates to a logical area of the business.

Data Warehouse Subject Areas

Some of the subject areas that are common to most corporations and organizations include …
* Sales
* Product
* Order
* Shipment
* Work Effort
* Invoice
* Accounting
* Human Resources
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Gartner Evaluates the “Big Four” BI Megavendors

Business Intelligence, Front Page, Posts Dec 22, 2010 No Comments

Gartner Logo

Although they’re not pure-play business intelligence vendors, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle Corp., and SAP Business Objects own two-thirds of the $6 billion business intelligence (BI) market because they have optimized their BI platforms to work well with their respective enterprise and information management applications, according to Gartner Inc. This integrated approach, as well as the fact that many enterprises already have these vendors’ ERP and information management applications in place, is swaying customers to standardize on one of their BI platforms. (source: searchcio.com)

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BI Maturity Model Level 5 – Data Mining & Predictive Analytics

Business Intelligence, Posts Dec 21, 2010 No Comments

Overview of Data Mining & Predictive Analytics Concept

Sample Data Mining Application

According to data-mining-guide.net, data mining is the process of analyzing large data sets in order to find patterns that can help to isolate key variables to build predictive models for management decision making.  In addition, data mining applications help discover hidden patterns and relationships in data in order to effectively project and predict future results. In order to accomplish this goal, data mining application utilize statistics, algorithms, advanced mathematical techniques, and sophisticated data search capabilities.

Moreover, these sophisticated tools provide answers to questions that may never have been asked and they are effectively able to determine relative amounts of correlation between data elements. Further, the predictive features of these data mining tools enable organizations to exploit useful patterns in data that may have otherwise been difficult to determine.

 

Characteristics of Data Mining & Predictive Analytics Applications

•  Leverages statistics, advanced techniques, algorithms, and sophisticated data search capabilities
•  Extrapolates past organizational performance
•  Forecasts and predicts future results of the business
•  Provides answers to questions that may never have been asked
•  Calculates levels of correlation between data elements
•  Implementers are experts of statistic analysis and/or processing of large queries

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BI Maturity Model Level 4 – Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)

Business Intelligence, Posts Dec 21, 2010 No Comments

Level 4 – On-line Analytical Analysis (OLAP) Systems

On-line analytical processing (OLAP) is a technique for rapidly visualizing and analyzing business metrics across different points of view. OLAP is a term used to generically refer to software and applications that provide users with the ability to store and access data in OLAP cubes (also called a ‘multidimensional cube’ or a hypercube) with this “cube” being made up of numeric facts, called measures, and text values, called dimensions.

Sample On-line Analytical Analysis (OLAP) Application

Moreover, OLAP systems provide users with insight into past performance and they enable a deep understanding of the reasons behind why previous events have occurred. Fundamentally, OLAP systems allow users to rapidly view and analyze data from many perspectives or dimensions and allows the users to conduct advanced “What-If” analysis.

 

Characteristics of OLAP Applications

•  Retrieves data from OLAP cubes rather than database tables
•  Enables advanced insight into past performance
•  Provides accurate and precise “What-If” analysis
•  Queries perform extremely rapidly
•  Primarily used by business areas concerned with financial and resource planning

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BI Maturity Model Level 3 – Dashboard Management

Business Intelligence, Posts Dec 21, 2010 No Comments

Overview of Dashboard Management

Dashboard management systems are intended to facilitate and support the information and decision-making needs of management by providing easy access to key business information in a highly graphical and intuitive format. Fundamentally, a dashboard is a graphical business tool that displays a set of KPIs (key performance indicators), metrics, and any other relevant information to a business user, manager, or key decision-maker in a single consolidated view and allows for organizational performance to be easily measured and monitored.  Dashboard data is often displayed as aggregate information and contains data that consolidated from multiple data sources scattered throughout an organization. Dashboards are commonly interactive and provide users the ability to drill into particular aspects of the display and/or rapidly switch between views of the data.

Sample Organizational Dashboard

To make this possible, dashboards are typically composed of advanced data visualization tools including charts, grids, gauges, and maps that allow for various ways of presenting information and interacting with the data. Moreover, dashboard management environments are characterized by providing users with graphical methods to view and interact with key data elements and get a snapshot of organizational performance.

 

Characteristics of Dashboard Management

•  Presents a number of organizational metrics in a single consolidated view
•  Presents data in graphical and intuitive format
•  Utilizes graphics, charts, grids, gauges, and maps
•  Monitors organizational metrics and key performance indicators (KPI)
•  Enables real-time visibility into data
•  Primarily utilized by senior management and key decision-makers
•  Rapidly displays a snapshot of organizational performance

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BI Maturity Model Level 2 – Query & Analysis

Business Intelligence, Posts Dec 20, 2010 No Comments

Overview of Query & Analysis Solutions & Environments

Sample Query and Analysis Solution

Sample Query and Analysis Solution

Query and analysis solutions enable business users and analysts to rapidly generate business queries and reports from enterprise data based upon business question of the data.  Also known as “ad-hoc” querying, these tools typically provide intuitive, graphical interfaces that shields users from technical complexities and allows users to leverage business terminology instead of the more technical database names. The business focus of these tools allows nontechnical professionals to be comfortable with their data and allows them to quickly and efficiently satisfy their own information needsin real time with minimal assistance from system developers. Commonly, query and analysis environments include a middleware layer that converts database conventions into business nomenclature that is more intuitive and understanding to end-users. Moreover, query & analysis environments give users the capability to access and analyze data in a unique and personal manner. Utilized primarily by business users, query and analysis solutions provide an environment that enables interactive methods to query data, present data in an ad-hoc manner, and find information on an as-needed basis.

 

Characteristics of Query & Analysis Environments

•  Utilized primarily by business users
•  Drag-n-drop interfaces to create queries and simple reports
•  Rapidly and intuitively generate queries with minimal help from IT professionals
•  Highly-interactive methods to query data
•  Users ask business questions to develop queries
•  To produce queries, users only need to understand their own business terms
•  Users can independently dive into the details of their data

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BI Maturity Model Level 1 – Operational Reports

Business Intelligence, Posts Dec 16, 2010 No Comments

Overview of Operational Reports

Operational reports are pre-designed business reports that focus on listings of data at the detailed level with data presented within a highly-structured format.  Also known as “canned reports”, operational reports enable organizations to present data in a logical format and are designed to support the day-to-day activities of an organization at the transaction level. They are typically developed by information technology (IT) departments and/or advanced report users that have a good understanding of reporting tools, business rules, and database concepts.  In addition, operational reports can be scheduled, refreshed, and distributed on a regular basis.  Fundamentally operational reports are used by people with the responsibility for improving their organization’s operations.

Sample Operational Report

Sample Operational Report

The tools provide task-oriented line-item information on individual transactions at the granular level of detail.  Operational reports are ideal for printing and displaying lists of detailed records or transactions in richly-formatted manner.

Characteristics of Operational Reports

•  Presents data in a logical format
•  Data is distributed in a highly-formatted manner
•  Reports can be published on a regular schedule
•  Distribution of organized listings of data
•  Enables users to understand transactional and/or detail level data
•  Typically developed by information technology (IT) personnel and/or knowledgeable power users

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BI Maturity Model Level 0 – Spreadsheets

Business Intelligence, Posts Dec 15, 2010 No Comments

Overview of Spreadsheets

A spreadsheet is a computer application that simulates a paper, accounting worksheet. It displays multiple cells that together make up a grid consisting of rows and columns, each cell containing alphanumeric text, numeric values or formulas.  Because spreadsheets are easy to work with and are widely available, many businesses rely on them to take the place of a more sophisticated business intelligence tool.  Instead of providing a consistent view of the organizational data, spreadsheets have decentralized views of limited amounts of data. In addition, spreadsheets are typically developed by an individual user, consist of little or no organizational standards, and encompass limited system analysis and quality assurance before being used as an official reporting source.

Example Spreadsheet

Example Spreadsheet

It is typically up to the spreadsheet developer to decide what metrics are important, what data needs to be included, how the data is formatted, and what level of aggregation is necessary.  Spreadsheets become isolated and inconsistent data silos, and are difficult for analysts to extract, transform and load data into a central database to be interpreted at an enterprise level.

Characteristics of Spreadsheets

•  Widely used personal desktop application / available on most user workstations
•  Reporting of data conducted in rows and columns
•  High degree of individual use and high degree of inaccuracy and variability
•  Limited security and limited collaboration capabilities built into software environments

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Sample Charter for a BI Center of Excellence (BI COE)

Business Intelligence, Center of Excellence, Posts Dec 09, 2010 No Comments
Sample BI Center of Excellence (BI COE)

Sample BI Center of Excellence (BI COE)

In order to ensure a predictable and repeatable usage of Business Intelligence (BI) services across organization X, and to maximize the value of licensing cost, organization X’s information technology department has adopted the formation of a Business Intelligence Center of Excellence (BI COE). This BI COE performs at an enterprise level and serves as a cross-functional team with a permanent, formal organization structure. The team includes defined tasks, roles, responsibilities and processes for supporting and promoting the effective use of business intelligence across the organization.

SAP BusinessObjects Logo

In addition, organization X has chosen to standardize on an organization-wide reporting and decision support platform from SAP Business Objects to provide analysts and decision-makers across the enterprise with easy and flexible access to critical data. While Business Objects is being made available to the users through-out the enterprise, there is a need to establish and uphold best practices, guidelines, policies, standards and training to ensure the usability, sustainability and maintainability of the environment.

Fundamentally, the BI COE at organization X has three major responsibilities:

1. Application/security administration of Business Objects environment
2. Management and support of Business Objects application infrastructure
• Web Intelligence
• InfoView
• Crystal Reports
• Xcelsius Dashboards
3. Oversight, development, and implementation of enterprise business intelligence projects

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Data Warehouse Concept

Data Warehousing, Posts Dec 02, 2010 No Comments
Data Warehouse Concept

Data Warehouse Concept

Data Warehouses (DW) are read-only, integrated databases designed to provide insight into past organizational performance and project future results.  Further, they can be defined as highly-optimized data repositories that include data sourced from numerous transactional, legacy, external systems, applications, data feeds, and data files that exist throughout an organization.

In practice, the data warehouse is designed, organized, and optimized for retrieval and analysis of data while providing managers, executives, and other decision makers with a single and complete view of the truth.  Moreover, the data warehouse is a data repository completely designed for decision-support, analytical-reporting, managing performance, and the conversion of raw data into information. The data warehouse is constructed with a focus on data retrieval and the data warehouse enables complex queries to be performed without any impact on the systems that support the business’ primary transactions (i.e. transactional, operational, and mainframe applications).  In contrast to its source databases, the data warehouse is a collection of data designed to support management decision making and contains a wide variety of data that business personnel can use to gain a better understanding of business conditions.

Fundamentally, a data warehouse is unique database in which data is collected for analysis and to support management decision making.  A data warehouse is defined by its purpose and it comprises data that is subject-oriented, integrated, time-variant, and non-volatile.  This means the data warehouse is focused on a business concept like sales, orders, fulfillments, as opposed to a specific business process.

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