InetSoft Webinar: Business Intelligence Initiative Begins with Canned Reporting

This is of the continuation of the transcript of a Webinar hosted by InetSoft on the topic of "How to Use Your Business Intelligence As a Competitive Edge." The speaker is Mark Flaherty, CMO at InetSoft.

Canned Reporting

Typically this is the way organizations start with some sort of business intelligence initiative. It begins with canned reporting. This could be a sales report, or it could be regular financial statements. Reports are really designed to answer a specific question or maybe a set of specific questions.

Some of you may have experienced reporting packages like Crystal Reports. You might already understand the value of pure reporting; really just getting information in a pixel perfect format to your end user to answer those questions. However, there are situations when a canned report falls short of what you need.

For example, maybe your business users want to get a deeper understanding of their data. They have questions that go beyond what’s shown in that existing sales or finance report. Your executives, they may also want access to data, but they don’t have a lot of time on their hands so they want a concise summary view. That is hard to derive from hundreds of pages of reports.

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Everywhere Access to Reports

They may want this whether they’re in the office or on the road on their mobile device. So there are different ways of distributing that information. Another key aspect of going beyond just a pure reporting solution is access to data quality. Having information that you can not only report on, but you can trust to make those decisions is important.

So in a moment, you are going to see a demonstration of some of the innovative solutions coming out of InetSoft, but before we do that, let’s talk about some of the most common customer challenges. For different business units whether it was IS, marketing, sales, they often have problems keeping up with what they’re doing, or keeping up with the speed of business. What does this mean to you? Well that means getting the information you need when you need it, and that’s really the key to making good business decisions.

So we’ve talked a little bit about traditional reporting, canned reporting like Crystal Reports, can this help address that sort of challenge? Well often a canned report answers one question, but it can lead to other questions. Your users have more questions after they see the first glimpse of the data, and everyone wants deeper analysis. Typically this means they make more and more requests for reports, maybe with different filters or groupings or complex drill paths.

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The Problem with Data Dumps

Or even more commonly, the end users can get frustrated with logging report request tickets, and they just ask for a raw extract or export of the data. This is a classic use case for an ad hoc analysis tool. Business needs can easily change every quarter.

Okay, so end users want to be able to answer their own questions. But what’s so wrong with doing a raw data dump to a spreadsheet or access database if that does actually help empower the end users? Well data dumps are a snapshot in time so when the data in your systems change, you need to get a new data dump, and you might be putting that together for multiple sources as well, so gathering all that information every time is wasteful.

And if you don’t do that, you might be making the wrong business decision. Also, there’s no governance around data. Everyone has their own copy, and there’s tons of room for error or omissions. How can you trust this information when you’re making a decision? This approach simply doesn’t scale.

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