The future of business intelligence is coming. The comment is rhetorical, but in many ways it is true. For the last few years the conversation has surrounded Web 2.0 or even BI 2.0. The concept has brought changes to the way that we look at information and the methods that we use to exchange information. BI 2.0 has brought us a plethora of new functionality that provides proactive support to organizations and a more interactive manner of sharing information. So where is this going, and how will today's technology support our needs as 2010 arrives, and with it a new decade?
Getting Value From Data
Business Intelligence has been seen from numerous business perspectives. Finance departments use it for reporting on all aspects of the financial health of the organization, while sales departments use it to report on product sales in various regions; but most of this reporting is operational. How do organizations get more value from their data? The first step is the expanded access to information within an organization for nontraditional business areas like marketing, fraud detection, security, or call centers. This means technology that is simple to deploy, easy to use, and allows for quick wins to illustrate return on investment. BI needs to provide support for tactical needs as well as support for the company's strategic direction.
How are today's software vendors answering the call to arms to address the challenge of the data tsunami that is occurring? The problem is not collecting data; it is disseminating it in a productive manner. So each software vendor must provide significant support for decision support and business intelligence. To use Oracle as the example of a complete business intelligence platform, we can look at how technology is supporting the use of data.
The Foundational Level
At the foundational level, Oracle provides the Database Machine, also known as the Exadata. The database appliance provides customers with the ability to store and retrieve data using standard Oracle technologies like RAC or partitioning while optimizing the disk storage to provide for significant speed gains. Data warehouse appliances have existed for years and have done a great job of meeting the data thirst of many organizations, but Oracle has shown that it can give organizations the option of maintaining a single technology stack, providing customers with a single point of contact for issue resolution as well as confidence that everything that should work together does.
The next layer to consider is the toolset that surrounds the database and supports the processes that are needed to create
the data information factory. You will need tools to extract, transform, and load data, as well as reporting tools to get the data to where you need it. The options for the tools are long and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Oracle has provided a "free" option within the database named Oracle Warehouse Builder. This provides users with a simple and easy interface to create and maintain the data movement process. Oracle also provides other options like OLAP in the database to support better performance. At the user layer, Oracle's OBIEE tool allows for the deployment of a strategic dashboard and interactive reports to support all business needs. Oracle has done what it preaches, as it has created a significant BI product offering that links to Oracle Applications and is another development in the BI evolution.
So what can you do in 2010 to get ready for the data onslaught? You need to get involved and start using the tools. One of the best places to do this will be at the IOUG Forum at COLLABORATE 10. We will be hosting the largest Oracle BI event ever hosted by the user community, bringing together teaching and best practices on all things BI and data warehousing. So join the rest of your BI practitioners in Las Vegas, April 18-22, and see the present and future of business intelligence.
For more information, go to http://collaborate10.ioug.org.