Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Ad-Hoc Reporting Isn’t for Everyone


Consider your users before thinking ad-hoc will be your silver bullet.

Ad-hoc reports allow users to manipulate and explore their data and build reports on the fly to answer business questions. If dashboards and static reports answer the question “What is happening at my business?” then ad-hoc answers the question “Why is it happening?” However, ad-hoc is not for everyone. There is a common misconception, often propagated by BI vendors like us, that once users have access to their data, they’ll be able to self-serve and IT will be relieved of the “go fetch” requests for reports. Let’s debunk that myth.

The spectrum of workers in your organization includes people with various responsibilities and skill sets who are equipped with tools specific to their job function in order to get work done. In her 2011 report on Self-Service BI, analyst Cindi Howson illustrates the different segments of BI users and their relation to business query tools.

As you can see, ad-hoc or business query tools only serve a small subset of users: IT developers, analysts & information workers (power users), and some executives & managers. IT developers are building ad-hoc reports for the frequent requests of other user groups. Data analysis experts/power users use ad-hoc query tools most often to support decision-makers who make operational, strategic or tactical decisions. Then you have executives and managers who ideally want interactive dashboards with an ad-hoc component so they can quickly answer questions without needing complex BI tools.

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Collaborative BI – What Does It Really Mean?


The focal point of many BI tools today is to get the right information to the right people at the right time so they can analyze company data and make well-informed decisions. The ‘right people’ are not only the ones at the very top of the food chain; we find that decision makers exist at all levels. Thus, the sharing and exchange of information is increasingly important in modern businesses.

Collaborative BI is a growing trend that merges business intelligence and social media tools and amounts to business users determining what the most valuable and relevant data in their organization is and sharing it to improve decision-making across the board.

Collaborative BI often goes hand-in-hand with the term “self-service BI.” It makes sense, since self-service BI tools make it easy for business users to access and analyze data without having to go through IT. These trends are all about the 85% of potential users in an organization who normally don’t partake in BI, but can benefit from it as much as the other 15%.

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The Future of BI: Power to the End User


A company can throw millions behind a large-scale BI project and it may still fail. Of course there are a multitude of reasons why projects don’t succeed, but one important point cannot be underscored enough: data is useless unless it’s put into the right hands in the right manner.

Empowering your end users is critical to the success of your BI project, whether that’s empowering them to do more analysis by removing tedious manual work (automating tasks that used to be done with Excel spreadsheets), or empowering them through the newest trend: incorporating Web 2.0 functionality into BI solutions.

As arcplan sees it, this new trend is all about making BI more pervasive, engaging, and collaborative in order to facilitate end user decision-making, all in the hopes of helping organizations perform better. The power really is in the end users’ hands; BI solutions providers are designing with them in mind, taking their internet savvy and preferences into account in their latest product innovations.

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