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Operational Segregation of BI Users

Data warehousing and reportings are major buzzwords today. Almost every organization worth its salt has either invested in some form of a data warehousing solution or is planning to do so. In most cases the talk of using a warehousing solution revolves around the selection of the  technological features provided by the solution or reporting formats and structures. Most organization view the data warehouse as a panacea for all their ills and think that providing data visibility to their employees will eliminate all operational problems. Now while data visibility is definitely one of the key benefits of a data warehouse, most people forget that reporting requirements are different. This is not just the type of data that is shown or the granularity but also the way in which data is made available.  Take the case of SAP’s BIW system. The BW 3.5 comes with a whole host of features ranging from information broadcasting, BEx broadcaster, EP Publishing etc. To make the best use of the features offered, it makes immense sense for organizations to invest some time in understanding the usage patterns of their users. e.g. there would be operational users whose usage arises out of their job description to act on the data, exert control and perform daily tasks. Then there may be business planners who would like to look at data chunks from the viewpoint of identifying patterns trends and support planning and strategies. At the very top there are the heads whose requirement is to look at macro level data and perhaps combine that with extraneous data about their market or industry and take strategic decisions. If we now look at these three broad categories of users and try to fit delivery mechanisms to them, then an operational user may be best served by web based / BEx queries with limited drill downs, sending alerts via sms using the mobile infrastructure, the planners may be better served using dashboards, modelling tools and statistical applications, while the managers may be best served by predetermined and preformatted result sheets / summary reports in tabular / graphical formats. The image given below may perhaps explain this better.  image Although this approach seems fairly common sensical, it is actually amazing to see the number of organizations, who in their effort to go all out on BW often miss this point. It has been my personal experience that the time and effort invested in such activities often pays rich dividends in the implementation and often reduces the change management issues that are a key part of any BW implementation. The users are thus able to see the benefits immediately resulting and therefore adopt it more readily.

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