Business Intelligence solutions come in many forms. Due to the scope of Business Intelligence in general, your project may focus on one particular area of Business Intelligence, or the whole gamut of available technologies and solutions.
To give you an idea of the kind of solutions that fall under the Business Intelligence umbrella, consider the following:
If you are starting out on the Business Intelligence path, you may well be considering a data warehouse solution.
This will entail the use data warehousing software from a vendor such as Oracle, Microsoft or Teradata.
When considering a data warehouse solution, you may need to consider aspects such as data migration. Data that needs to be reported on may exist in a variety of disparate databases held on differing platforms. A data migration exercise may need to be performed in order to bring this data into one data warehouse. This is typically performed using a Data Integration tool.
Invariably, with data being migrated from various data sources, you may come across a number of the typical data warehouse issues such as duplicate data, incorrect data and quite possibly missing data. This therefore requires a data cleansing exercise. Data cleansing tools will help you to eliminate duplication, and fix errors and omissions in your warehouse data, providing you with a more accurate reporting data source. In the long term, such an exercise can save you a great deal of money.
Once your data is in the data warehouse, suitably cleansed, you then have a good foundation over which to develop OLAP cubes and reports.
Development of the OLAP cubes will require a Business Intelligence OLAP software tool such as SQL Server Analysis Services.
The majority of your users will require a Business Intelligence reporting solution. These are typically provided by vendors such as Business Objects, Microsoft and Oracle.
Different users have different requirements. You will find that your CEO for example will be interested in scorecards, business dashboards and Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
These will provide the CEO and board members with a high level overview of the data – normally in a graphical format.
Further down the chain, you will have teams who will require the use of business analytic software. They will be interested in performing detailled analysis of the data and will require the use of Business Intelligence Data Mining software. Data Mining software can be quite complex, requiring algorithms to analyse the data. However, this powerful breed of software allows users to delve deep into the data warehouse to discover anomolies and trends, allowing them to create forecasts and make decisions of historic data.
Finally, thought needs to be given to how these reports are delivered to users. In some cases, the reports are accessed via a central repository hosted on the reporting server. Other options include a Business Intelligence portal such as Microsoft Sharepoint. This will provide a central third party repository for the distribution and reading of reports.
Add to this the requirement for Real Time Business Intelligence and the latest innovations in Data Visualization software and one can really begin to appreciate the myriad of Business Intelligence solutions available today.
One of the latest Business Intelligence solutions is Data Mashups.This is the current playground for cutting edge developers, allowing them to create reports or charts based on third party data available on the internet.