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BI back to manual handling: the inefficiency of business intelligence infrastructures and implementations is compromising the quality of corporate data

and wasting managers' time.

[right arrow] ANALYSIS An investigation by business intelligence (BI) and SAP consultancy De Villiers Walton has identified five key issues that lead to BI data that is slow to generate, ignored by the business, and inaccurate. After complaints of lack of data quality from its clients' senior data managers, the consultancy undertook an investigation into the shortcomings of BI. It found that real-time data on the web was complicating com?pli?cate?? tr. & intr.v. com?pli?cat?ed, com?pli?cat?ing, com?pli?cates 1. To make or become complex or perplexing. 2. To twist or become twisted together. adj. 1. ?BI processes so that the right information could not be retrieved for the right people, at the right time and in the right format. System architectures were inadequate: corporates were not optimising their strategic data, user adoption levels had fallen, and confidence in data was low. De Villiers Walton identified the five main obstacles as follows: * The type and depth of information needed to gain competitive advantage from BI tools was absent * Data could not be accessed in a timely fashion because of performance issues

* Data was not being delivered in a relevant format

* Internal reporting processes were inaccurate and time-consuming * Data taken from BI tools was being processed in such a way that its accuracy was compromised. The solution, according to according to prep. 1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians. 2. In keeping with: according to instructions. 3. ?De Villiers Walton, is to use a simple process to drive reporting extraction, transformation and loading See ETL. ?so that data does not have to be extracted manually, therefore restoring the reliability and credibility of the information. The consultancy's co-founder and managing director Darron Walton said businesses should redesign their data flows, breaking down the processes and addressing the challenges identified. "Information officers must not just apply new technology to solve problems," Walton said. "Instead, they must investigate the existing process to understand data quality issues and implement a programme to address the challenges. Most of the time, the issues can be resolved by optimising existing systems and following better data management principles." According to Walton, better information management policies let businesses optimise their BI tools and leverage intelligent information. Whereas traditional BI relies on predetermined pre?de?ter?mine?? v. pre?de?ter?mined, pre?de?ter?min?ing, pre?de?ter?mines v.tr. 1. To determine, decide, or establish in advance: ?data models to let users explore structured data, today there is a greater need for in-the-moment information discovery to allow users with no training in the technology to get answers to unanticipated questions.

Daneel de Villiers, co-founder and joint MD of the company, added that all report builders should use a single data repository See repository. ?and that alternative reporting tools such as Excel should be removed. "This will help minimise data inaccuracies and there will be just one version of information," he explained. FRONT-END AND BACK-END According to De Villiers Walton, three layers affect BI performance: the presentation layer, the processing layer and the data processing data processing?or information processing,?operations (e.g., handling, merging, sorting, and computing) performed upon data in accordance with strictly defined procedures, such as recording and summarizing the financial transactions of a ?layer. Because front-end performance problems are produced by a combination of factors rather than a single issue, it is important to investigate each layer separately to determine the causes of problems. If a user is selecting large volumes of data, for example, or the database process for selecting data from the underlying tables is not optimized, front-end performance will be affected. Using the wrong

version of Microsoft Office Microsoft's primary desktop applications for Windows and Mac. Depending on the package, it includes some combination of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook along with various Internet and other utilities. ?tools in combination with SAP's Business Explorer (BEx) tools can also cause problems. De Villiers Walton's investigation also found that when organisations were unable to consistently access reliable data for reporting, users extracted the data manually from the source system into programs such as Microsoft Excel (tool) Microsoft Excel - A spreadsheet program from Microsoft, part of their Microsoft Office suite of productivity tools for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh. Excel is probably the most widely used spreadsheet in the world. Latest version: Excel 97, as of 1997-01-14. ?or Access. "This means professionals can be so focused on producing results that they will have no time to analyse the information and make informed business-critical decisions," said De Villiers.

There is also a need to improve backend processes so information can be reliably delivered to the right people at consistent times. "Better data management strategies and reducing the amount of unnecessary data which may be clogging up the system may also yield improvement," said De Villiers. The company has launched a BI performance review service, which looks at all three layers to determine how to accelerate performance. Poorly designed systems take a long time to upload data, add records and retrieve data, and also use up large amounts of disk space. INTELLIGENT INTELLIGENCE De Villiers Walton's Intelligent BI programme addresses an organisation's existing BI difficulties and tackles issues such as under-utilised or inaccurate data. The programme gives clients access to data in real-time and in a needs-driven format. "This takes SAP BI solutions to the next level," said De Villiers, "giving users enhanced data quality, more intelligent and active utilisation, data timeliness, increased data transparency (1) The ability to easily access and work with data no matter where they are located or what application created them. (2) The assurance that data being reported are accurate and are coming from the official source. ?and optimised usage." The consultancy's data warehouse solutions provide a single validated set of data that is always upto-date and can be accessed by all users at any time. Before the introduction of data warehouses, organisations used different versions of data based on a variety of manual processing methods of reporting. A significant amount of management time was taken up in reconciling the differences in the data to establish the true position, delaying the speed with which informed management decisions could be made. BI PLUS SEARCH Another company addressing BI concerns is Endeca Technologies, which has launched Endeca Latitude latitude,?angular distance of any point on the surface of the earth north or south of the equator. The equator is latitude 0?, and the North Pole and South Pole are latitudes 90?N and 90?S, respectively. , a BI product that combines search and BI to improve daily decision-making in the enterprise. Endeca Latitude's hybrid search-analytical database brings together all the information required for

making critical business decisions, regardless of its original type, format and source. It allows users to explore data and content in an unconstrained manner, rapidly addressing new questions as they arise. The product brings together diverse datasets without complex modelling and integration, and supports search, navigation and analytics on the data. Paul Sonderegger, chief strategist strat?e?gist?? n. One who is skilled in strategy. http://www.freep.com/section/BUSINESS Noun 1. strategist - an expert in strategy (especially in warfare) strategian market strategist - someone skilled in planning marketing campaigns ?at Endeca, said: "While traditional reporting is valuable and must continue, companies need a new approach to enhance and extend their BI capabilities. They must take a new approach to provisioning exploration and discovery to any process where it may be needed." According to Endeca, today's organisations need greater agility in operations and decision-making. The BI infrastructure must be able to support decisions made by front-line staff and managers, and easily integrate a greater volume and variety of enterprise data and content. De Villiers added that the ability to access accurate, consolidated reporting also meant that business decisions could be made based on the clearest and most truthful reflection of current business performance. That's an especially important factor in uncertain times when info pros need to work with IT and other colleagues to generate the best business-critical information.

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