Monday, November 16, 2015

Understanding Reporting and Analysis in Business Intelligence solutions

Every company implements a business intelligence solution for tracking and improving the business performance through reporting and analysis, setting it as the ultimate goal of business intelligence solution. Some solutions completely focus on analysis only and some focus on reporting only but most focus on both, making sure that solution delivered addresses requirements coming of all level of the company. What is the different between Reporting and Analysis with BI?


This is the main communication channel used for getting information from BI solution. Formal reports or operational reports are not recommended through BI solution but production reports, interactive reports (up to some extent) and dashboard reports are common. Most reports show summarized values and they are printable. It is not uncommon to see tabular reports but reports with graphical elements are the most common. When planning, audience needs to be understood, need to have a good knowledge on how reports need to be viewed and delivered. There are mainly two types of reports that can be delivered through a BI solution;
  • IT-provided reports
    Reports that are developed and managed by developers are called as IT-provided reports. These reports are developed based on requirements given by business users. Business users have no facilities to modify reports but content of the reports can be changed using filters added or using interacting features such as expanding/collapsing enabled in the report.
  • Self-service reports
    Self-service reports are authored by business users without getting support from IT. Special tools that are more user-friendly for business users have to be given, empowering business users. Tools should support authoring simple reports such as production report as well as complex reports such as dashboard reports. Though IT has no involvement with this, repository that holds data required with business terms has to be supplied by IT (example, data warehouse, or models) and sometime, IT manages developed reports too.

Analysis is detail examination or interpretation of data delivered by BI solution. Smart business users explorer data in the model and perform specific examinations for seeing the insight or find a hidden pattern. Example, these business users will use tools like Excel, Power BI, Tableau for creating their own models or doing their own experiments. General users do the same but not with specialized tool but with reports and dashboards. Generally, following analytical requirements are addressed with BI solutions;
  • Interactive analysis
    This type of analysis requires key BI functionality such as slicing and dicing for analyzing data with various segments or dimensions. Results of these analysis can be published as reports or can be used for improving business process such as promotions.
  • Dashboard and scorecards
    Combination of various KPIs and summarized information with graphical widgets are shown with dashboards and scorecards, allowing users to analyze data with functionalities like drilling down and drilling through.
  • Data mining (machine learning)
    This allows users to do various experiments with data using machine learning algorithm for understanding the trends and patterns related business processes and using them for improving the business.

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