Agile DW: Analytic Capabilities in Operational Systems
Why having operational systems include strong analytic capabilities is so important
In my previous article, Creating an Agile Data Warehousing Environment, I discussed several ways to create an agile data warehousing environment, an environment that enables users to quickly perform analyses in support of their decision-making processes. These included cloud-computing and virtualization techniques for minimizing upfront hardware investments and facilitating quick deployments, enhanced search and delivery capabilities for leveraging existing parameter driven reports and analyses templates, and organizational techniques such as relaxed development standards for one-time requests.
In this article I will focus on the desirability of having operational systems include strong analytic capabilities so that some (albeit certainly not all) analyses can be performed and generated directly from them. Although this will never replace the need for a data warehouse, it can be a useful adjunct for helping to satisfy many end-user analytic needs. Our goal should be to provide our organizations with the necessary agility to facilitate their decision-making processes while you can still take advantage of an opportunity or you can cost-effectively resolve a problem.
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One example of the inclusion of business intelligence functionality is Oracle’s Daily Business Intelligence suite, first released in 2003. Offered as an add-on to several operational systems, it included hundreds of key performance indicators, dashboards, and drill-down reports for a wide variety of business functions and business user roles. Rival SAP augmented its enterprise software applications with composite applications (SAP xApps), several of which were focused on analysis.
Currently many vendors are using the term “embedded analytics” to describe their included or add-on BI functionality. This, of course, is not a new concept as almost all design efforts for operational systems include asking users what reports and analyses they would like generated. Although while most of these were in support of tactical operational requirements, they also included requests for analyses needed to satisfy more strategic goals.