Project 3: Business Intelligence

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Nov 8, 2013 (3 years and 7 months ago)

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Project 3: Business Intelligence


In the past few years, business intelligence systems have been implemented in many companies
and organizations to
create, collect, and store information to make significant use of that
information.
“Business

Intelligence
is a process for increasing the competitive advantage of a
business by intelligent use of available data in decision making.
” (CSIRO)

Companies like to use
business intelligence systems because of its ability to present and analyze data in comprehensible
r
eports and documents. There are many business
intelligence

systems

like SAS, Oracle and
Business Objects
.

In this report, we will take a closer look at
Business Objects
. We will also
evaluate
two
aspects

of
the
business intelligence
industry
:
business int
elligence tools and
executive information systems.


Business Objects


Business Objects

is an integrated query, reporting and analysis solution for

business
professionals that allows you to access the data in your corporate

databases directly from your
des
ktop and present and analyze this information in

a
Business Objects

document.
” (
Business
Objects

User’s Guide
, p.25)
Business Objects XI offers their customers:


R
eporting

Reporting allows organizations to access, format, and deliver data as meaningful
in
formation to large populations of information consumers both inside and outside the
organization.

Q
uery and
A
nalysis

Query and analysis tools allow end users to interact with business information and answer
ad hoc questions themselves, without advanced kn
owledge of the underlying data sources
and structures.

P
erformance
M
anagement

Performance management products and services help users align with strategy by
tracking and analyzing key business metrics and goals via management dashboards,
scorecards, analy
tics, and alerting.

I
nteractive
V
isual
A
nalytics

Interactive visual analytic products allow anyone to quickly turn ordinary Excel
spreadsheets into engaging business presentations filled with dynamic charts and vibrant
graphs.

Business
I
ntelligence
P
latf
orm

The BI platform provides a set of common services to simplify deployment and
management of BI tools, reports, and analytics.

D
ata
I
ntegration

Data integration products extract data from disparate sources, transform it, and load it
into data marts and
warehouses.


Business Objects

features the ease of constructing report analysis, ability to share information
and reports created, security and keeping documents and report up
-
to
-
date.
In the chart below is
a comparison with the pros and cons of each of b
usiness intelligence software.


Analysis of Business Intelligence Software


Business Objects

Microstrategy

Cognos

Reporting Structure

Enterprise Reporting with
some internet reporting
ability

Pure Internet capability

Enterprise Reporting with
some inter
net reporting
ability

Drill down capability

Limited to predefined
“holes”

Drill down capable at any
point

Limited to predefined
“holes”

Scalability

Not scalable

Self
-
tuning scalability

Some scalability, but no
self tuning

Availability

Included in some s
oftware
packages

Limited availability

Included in some software
packages

Cost

High

Low

High


As you can see, one is not necessarily better than the other. Each has their own perks. It is just
determining which one is the best for your company.


Busines
s Objects offers their product to
many industries: communications, consumer product
goods, education,
financial

services, government and private sector, healthcare, manufacturing,
pharmaceuticals, retail and technology. “82% of Fortune 500 companies chose
Business
Objects.”
(Business Objects)
There top 3 featured
customers
are

T
-
Mobile, UBS, TBS
.
“T
-
Mobile wanted to give more departments a more transparent view of how well they were
meeting customer expectation to provide the best solutions and customer ser
vice possible.”
(Business Objects)
T
-
Mobile turned to Business Objects to implement dashboa
rd technology in
their company, s
ays Rosman, “The dashboard helps us measure our performance in relation to
the customer experience


with a goal of improving custom
er service.”

(Business Objects)
T
-
Mobile’s dashboard has
color code warnings

that will inform the company when an objective is
not met. The dashboard also lets them know of their trends and results

on a monthly basis.



Today, Business Objects is known wo
rld
-
wide in 14 languages. Their products are used in over
30,000 organizations and more than 80 countries.
As you can see in the graph below, Business
Objects has had a healthy financial status

increasing in revenue and profit every year from 1993.







Below are Business Objects business highlights f
or 2005:



With $234 million in license revenue in 2005,
Business
Objects

XI represented one of the
most successful product introductions in the history of the business intelligence industry.



Business Objects grew faster than the BI market, with 16 percent
year over year revenue
growth for 2005.



The company's global OEM business grew 23 percent year over year in the fourth quarter of
2005, and the company also entered into agreements with 28 new OEMs. These companies
will embed BusinessObjects XI in their b
usiness applications, allowing Business Objects to
expand its footprint in key industry verticals.



License revenue from transactions over $1 million grew 50 percent year over year in 2005,
demonstrating the company's ability to drive BI enterprise standar
dization.



License revenue from deals between $200,000 and $1 million grew 25 percent year over year
in 2005, demonstrating the company's ability to grow business in this important part of its
business.



The company made three key acquisitions in 2005
-

SR
C Software, Infommersion, and
Medience. All three provided an immediate positive impact on the company's ability to win
business and strengthened the company's overall product offering.



During the year, Business Objects received widespread praise and garn
ered several awards,
including the Computer Reseller News product of the year award for best business
application, the Intelligent Enterprise readers' choice award for the best business intelligence
suite, the Nucleus Research number one ranking for return

on investment, and a
VARBusiness mid
-
market product of the year award.

(Business Objects)

Business Intelligence Tools

Business Intelligence or BI is the interface between users of information stored in databases and
the database itself. Most business int
elligence software has a GUI front end allowing users to
drag and drop reporting and dashboards information. It is from older time of databases, one in
which programmers would create reports based on requirements provided by management and
then create recu
rring reports. Because of the heavy programming involved many people where
necessary to create the needed information. This was a cumbersome and time consuming
process, not to mention that it was very expensive. In today’s environment companies are
require
d to operate with a leaner staff while maintaining an increased focus on productivity,
thereby reducing costs. Instead of having a manager with a number of subordinates gathering and
processing data you have a manager alone gathering, analyzing, and genera
ting reports based on
historical and projected data. This manpower change is what has led to the re
-
emergence of BI.
Once seen as “boring” by many in the industry, BI development and deployment is becoming
crucial to all in the database industry. One of th
e latest trends is for companies to add reporting
and data mining capabilities to their OLAP applications, a form of vertical integration becoming
more and more common. Hyperion, Microsoft, and several others are moving into this area with
increasing succe
ss. Very few companies, ones such as Business Objects, have been totally
dedicated to BI systems from the outset.


The tools represent that various aspects that different software packages provide allowing
gathering, analysis, reporting and distribution of

critical company data. As the amount of data
being captured continues to rise, effective use of the following short list of capabilities becomes
crucial to the future of business.


General Reports
:


These include performance, inventory tracking and shippi
ng tracking, financials, production
processes, regulatory, and daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly productivity reports.
Reports can be produced in different views like
graphs, ch
arts, and bullet points
. The reports
consist of ad hoc and predefin
ed reports.




Dashboards
:

Originally
,

these were purely executive level
views;

now,
they have become more management
centered. Dashboards i
nclude visual aides that provide a quick reference to performance or
attainment without having to read bullet points or graphs. They show all pertinent information on
one page in a pleasing visual layout.




Drill
-
down Capability
:

Reports are of no use without being able to see the data driving the report. Drill
-
down
capabilities are of tremendous importance in corrective or

preventative situations. By narrowing
the search using the original report, finding the needed data is easier and quicker. The ability of a
software package to support drill
-
downs is a make or break sales point.


Interfaces
:

In the past, users would go to

their DBA’s, request a report using narrowly defined parameters,
and then wait to receive the report before every truly knowing if it meets their need. Now, with
drag and drop GUI interfaces, quick view buttons, and enhanced drill
-
down capability users ca
n
create, view, alter, and produce their on reports immediately. This benefit is two
-
fold, users are
happier and feel more at ease with the level of control and speed of response they have and
DBA’s are freed up to spend more time maintaining and improving

the database, rather spending
most of their time and effort meeting user requests.



Deployment Enablers:



Well established and respected in the industry



Years of experience in meeting customer reporting needs



Able to work with most other software packages



Stable financial structure


Deployment Detractors
:



Centered on one area of software development, must incorporate other companies to
enter new areas



Limited exposure as part of software package



Pre
-
defined links and drill
-
down “holes”



Metadata different f
or each system




Executive I
nformation
S
ystems

Executive information systems (EIS) are computer applications which present numbers and text
related to the business aspects of a company. The presentation format for this information is
arranged to be easy
-
t
o
-
use. Special menus and graphics are developed to provide easy and
immediate access to meaningful managerial information. EIS can be thought of as a "front end"
to a corporate database or larger computer system. It provides easy access to the data stored

on
these systems. It presents the data in a pleasing and informative manner. The EIS allows
managers
to
access company performance statistics without becoming a computer expert. EIS
facilitates routine management reporting, year
-
end preview, control and
review of major
projects, budget preparation, strategic planning, and a general review of the economic outlook.

A
typical executive information system consists of a knowledge base, tools for maintenance, an
analytic processor, electronic transfer protocols
, user interface and a big database.

Traditionally,
executive information systems were developed as mainframe computer
-
based programs. The
intent was to package key corporate data for decision makers not well acquainted with
computers. The first programs w
ere proprietary and very expensive. They pulled data from
mainframe fina
ncial systems and simplified it

to graphically illustrate key performance
indicators. These systems were developed to highlight variances between forecasts or budgets
and the actual re
sults. The systems were directed at financial officers, marketing directors, and
chief executive officers. Their purpose was to provide instant, colorful snapshots of sales
performance or market research statistics. The objective was to develop computer ap
plications
that would address the information needs of senior executives. Typically, EIS does not store all
the company data, just the data needed to support executive level decisions
.


Today's generation of EIS is aimed at a broader audience and the appli
cation transcends the
boundaries of typical corporation hierarchies. EIS
can
now
be
installed at the personal computer
level or workstation level on a local area network. These systems cross computer hardware
platforms, integrating information stored on ma
inframe, minicomputer, and personal computer
systems. The latest
executive

information systems take advantage of the client
-
server
environment, where each employee's personal computer has access to corporate data and decides
which data are needed to perfor
m their job functions
.
With an EIS, qualitative information is
obtained without producing volumes of paper.

Companies tend to use EIS when they have the
need for timely information and improved communication as well as implement rapid updates
from differen
t business units or simply to access corporate database. EIS
is
mostly used to
increase company’s competitive edge in a rapidly changing environment.



The components of an EIS can typically b
e classified into several

categories. The two we will
focus prim
arily on are h
ardware

and s
oftware
.



Hardware
:

Integrated systems require large amounts of storage space, so most executive information
systems originally were developed as mainframe computer solutions. Disk space for an EIS must
be large enough to handl
e data coming from all areas of the business. The disk space must also
allow for evolution o
f the system to occur over time
. Thanks to local area networks (LAN),
several EIS products for networked workstations became available. These systems have the
advan
tage of requiring less support and less expensive computer hardware. They also increase
access of the EIS information to many more users within a company. EIS have migrated from
mainframe computers to personal computers (PC) connected by a LAN and midrange

computers
which serve as a "client/server" to the network.


Software
:

Software designed to manipulate the data is an important tool in designing an effective EIS.
Therefore, the software components and how they integrate the data into one system are very
important. Much of what executives see in their daily activities is text
-
b
ased
. One important
function of an EIS is to access keywords in the document in order to extract and manipulate the
document. The advantage of text documents are that multiple docume
nts can be retrieved,
"pasted together," and saved as a new document. This allows the user to combine text data
relevant to the decision under consideration. Executives require access to both company internal
and external data. The data supplied to an EIS
can be obtained from several different sources.
Executives also require quick access to accurate information for a competitive advantage to be
gained. The structure of the database determines the method of access. Most database systems
use relational desig
n architecture. The advantages of this structure are that they can be easily
expanded or update, simple to use, and can be accessed in several different formats. The
relational database provides flexibility that is especially valuable in the distributed or

client/server environments.

A variety of graphic tools can be used to improve the executive's
knowledge. Typical graphic types are: time series charts, scatter diagrams, maps, motion
graphics, sequence charts, and comparison
-
oriented graphs. Graphics pres
ent data in a manner
that clearly conveys the meaning and permits users to visualize relationships.


Effectively combining the computer hardware and software
is
necessary to manage a text, data,
model, and graphic
-
based system with a friendly interface re
quires a constant focus on these
factors. The more closely aligned the EIS is to meeting the corporate goals and objectives, the
more valuable it will be to the organization.

There are quite a few commercial or proprietary
products currently being used. An

integrated EIS package combines the ability to organize and
present data in such a manner that it provides information supporting the analytical,
communicative, and planning needs of executive users.

The objective of developing the
information system and
the users' needs must be clearly identified before attempting to select any
software product. The selection of a commercially available product as opposed to developing an
in
-
house solution will depend on the company's information resources and the particu
lar system
requirements compared to project cost and schedule issues.
Listed below are examples of how
and where some of the major software for business intelligence can be used.




CADET

The Computer Assisted De
cision Tool is the EIS product that is distri
buted through
custom application developments by the consultant agency, Arthur Young. CADET is
usually installed as a custom application for a specific company. Arthur Young employs
EIS developers that stress goal achievement implementation and critical su
ccess factor
identification/ranking when providing assistance in customizing an EIS. CADET is
implemented on an open, LAN
-
based architecture.



Command Center
--

Pilot Software, Inc.

Pilot Software is one of two EIS market leaders. Their product focus is th
e identification
and tracking of key indicators. Command Center enhances organization communication
by improving the planning and management processes. This product is implemented
around a central database with the data processing performed at a personal c
omputer after
information is downloaded. The centralized database is used for data storage.



Express/EIS
--

Information Resources, Inc.

This EIS is built around the PC Express language, a fourth
-
generation language for
decision support system development.
It supports analysis, planning and control
applications, critical success factor tracking, trend analysis, as well as "what
-
if" and ad
hoc queries. This product's development is closely tied to Prime Computers and their
operating system updates.



RediMaste
r

RediMaster is a "delivery" tool designed to assist information systems departments
organize and deliver information to executives.



Destiny
--

IBM

IBM Corporation offers an EIS custom
-
design service that allows individual users to
receive and analyze onl
y the information they need from different areas of their
corporate
-
wide information systems. The product this service is market
ed under is called
Destiny. The

product features a single host repository, which stores both scanned images
and voice messages.



Master CEO
--

Management Systems Associates, Inc. (MSA)

Master

CEO from Management Systems Associates is an integrated EIS tool for the
MSA Confidence Healthcare information system. This product provides access to
patient
-
care information, receivables, occ
upancy, outpatient visit, and other statistics. The
text and graph tools present clear pictures of the corporate status to upper management.



PowerPlay
--

Cognos, Burlington, Massachusetts

PowerPlay is an alternative to executive information systems. PowerP
lay is a data
exploration and display tool for managers. It is a personal productivity tool with a "hook"
to corporate data. PowerPlay can operate in the Microsoft Windows 3.x and Hewlett
-
Packard HP New Wave environments. The emphasis of this product is re
port generation
and drill down capabilities. External information can be input as single, structured ASCII
files. This EIS requires high maintenance since required data are extracted from the
ASCII files and compiled into a proprietary database. The trade
-
off is higher maintenance
but superior drill
-
down and data
-
analysis capabilities.


As stated previously, studies have shown that about one third of the largest corporations in the
United States have some kind of EIS installed or under installation. But jus
t which companies are
turning to executive information systems to enlighten their top managers? In manufacturing for
example
,

we know very well that companies like: Hiram
-
Walker, Georgia Pacific, Valspar, and
Carroll Touch etc. are utilizing EIS to increas
e their productivity and functionality. In the
medical field
,

we see companies like WellStar, Meriter Hospital, Emory and many others to use
EIS. The US government is also taking advan
tage in using the power of EISm such as
U.S.
Postal Service, Correctiona
l Services, and the U.S. NAVY etc.




After all being said, we must conclude that, the Executive Information System (EIS) is a visual
reporting system that provides management with real
-
time updates on critical elements of
company
-
wide data in a graphical
, easy
-
to
-
read format. A powerful Business Intelligence tool,
EIS gives us quick access to key business measures, allowing us to monitor our operations and
increase the speed and accuracy of the decision making process.

As shown on the graph above
we can
q
uickly generate up
-
to
-
the minute graphs, access high
-
level manufacturing and financial
data in graphical format, and back up graphs with facts and figures through 1
-
click access to
source data.
With user
-
friendly point
-
and
-
click simplicity, you can graphic
ally display critical
information on sales, purchasing, inventory, production, and financial activity.

















BIBLIOGRAPHY



CSIRO: http://www.cmis.csiro.au/bi/what
-
is
-
BI.htm


Business Objects: www.businessobjects.com


Business Objects Reports Rec
ord Q4 and Fisca
l 2005 Revenues and EPS Results
-

http://www.businessobjects.com/news/press/press2006/20060201_q4_05_results.asp


EIS Graph Example
-

http://www.intuitivemfg.com/Product
-
Tour/Decision
-
Support/eis.htm

Bonner, Paul, "Trade
-
offs Mar Windows EI
S Programs; Four EIS Packages Take Different Approaches, Possess
Inherent Weakness," PC Week

Burke, Steven, "IBM Readies EIS Products," PC Week

Davidson, Clive, "Corporate Image; Computers as Executive Tools Have Been Limited by an Inability to Handle
Enou
gh Raw Text. But Executives and IT Are Now Beginning to Speak the Same Language," Computer Weekly

Frye, Colleen, "Three Routes to EIS: Mainframe, PC, Pieces," Software Magazine

"Information Delivery
-

Executive Information Systems," IBM System User

Scheier
, Robert L., "Information Resources Unveils Toll Set That Combines Best of EIS with DSS," PC Week

Business Objects User’s Guide: Accessing Data and Data Analysis