Which OLAP Tool to Use?

Below is the transcript of the webinar hosted by InetSoft on the topic of OLAP, the basics of what it is and an explanation of some of the technology terms related to, what OLAP's benefits are, and what the choices in OLAP technologies and OLAP tools are. The speaker is Mark Flaherty, Vice President of Marketing at InetSoft.

What is OLAP Data Analysis?

Mark Flaherty (MF): If you look at the formal definition of OLAP data analysis, it is really the studying of the nature of something or determining its essential features and their relations. In the context of business intelligence, analysis’s definition is around summarization, or statistical drill-into-detail data exploration.

In some cases you’re answering a question. In other cases you’re projecting into the future.

Often we see a lot of users using analysis as a starting point for reporting. So they have a couple of questions in mind, or general ideas someone gave them. Now they’re looking to identify a potential specific question and need a way to explore data.

Once they have their formal question formulated, and then find the answer they are looking for, that’s when they get into formatting and report design layout, et cetera.

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Tools That Are Very Analytical

Often tools that are very analytical have a lot of interactivity, visualization and navigation. That’s a big requirement for many users who need to interact with data using a GUI or some sort of interface that allows them to explore and identify trends.

One of the most common things that we see is that data analysis tools are usually used by a select few people. Over time we are starting to see that trend slowly change where more people in a company can and do use these OLAP tools, but for the most part we’re still seeing specific roles in an organization that have specific needs with regards to data analysis.