Business intelligence: To buy or not to buy?
October 30, 2012 —
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Related Search Term(s): business intelligence, reporting
But the challenge with Excel, he said, is that it starts to break down once you get beyond the single user, or in use cases where you need to work against more robust or sophisticated applications and data sources. That’s really when building your own involves much more diverse sets of skills, according to him. The necessary skills to know include things like working with databases and proficiency in SQL programming.
“And once you get into the actual presentation of the data, now you’re talking about more programming skills, whether it is using products like Microsoft Visual Studio and .NET to develop applications that present the data,” Abramson said. “Or if you’re working the Java world and developing in Eclipse or some other IDE and connecting to a variety of data sources. So, again, there’s certainly different levels of building your own.”
Getting the right report
Another challenge developers face comes from creating business intelligence reports. Developers typically deal with three types of reports. The first type is transactional reports. An example of this is an invoice or purchase order; that is, a report that many applications need. The second is an analytical report, which displays data such as the top ten sales people at a business, or quarterly sales reports. The third type is a page report or form report, such as tax and insurance forms.
“Why should developers buy and not build?” said Issam Elbaytam, CTO of ComponentOne. “I think that, other than simple transactional reports like an invoice, the rest of these items are simply impossible for a developer to build on his own within the scope of a business application. You have to buy these tools really; there is no other way around it. Reports are not just a simple listing of data; they involve aggregation, they involve analysis, they involve a huge function library that only exists with a commercial product.”
Another consideration is simply lack of time. From a business standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to spend the time creating and maintaining your own business intelligence and reporting solution. “If the development team is looking to build their own infrastructure to deliver content, the real thing that we want them to recognize is that maintaining IT infrastructure doesn’t really offer terribly much value to the organization in terms of business value,” said Jeff Morris, VP of product marketing at Actuate. “What are you doing with the information that your business is creating, generating or needing? When you’re babysitting servers and Web applications and Web portals, you’re burning daylight on actually finding good, intelligent, insightful kinds of information for your users. There’s a tradeoff in their time between adding value to their business or simply maintaining an infrastructure.”