Business Intelligence – A Preamble

I still remember the days of DBase, FoxPro and Paradox, when we used to feel pride in writing a report extraction software capable of churning out a few hundred pages of reports which were considered to be of key importance to the business decisions. These reports enabled the business managers and analysts to infer the important stuff about the various aspects of business and they based their decisions upon those facts.

It was very common that a manager would come up with a new metric for the business and thus there would be a demand for a whole new report, which would usually mean a ground up report design, program, test and verification cycle being initiated on part of the report writing programmers.

The managers could wait for days if not weeks for the new statistics to arrive with the improved view of the coveted business aspect, this would sometimes also lead to missed windows of opportunity and delay in response to a market disposition that was disclosed by such a late report.

There was a constant demand in improving the time required to create reports, many companies were born out of this very need and we saw many report writer tools that boasted 4GL capabilities, declarative querying and magical report generation in 90’s and early 2000’s.

The next thing business managers could wish was something that would let them create ad-hoc reports by themselves, thus eliminating the need for reports being written for them, thus giving them access to the kind of insight they had always longed for.
This kind of software has been traditionally expensive, un-affordable for smaller businesses and sometimes even for the not so small companies.

The challenge grew as the businesses accumulated more and more data, that was waiting to be transformed into meaningful information. That has lead to data warehousing technologies that very efficiently store huge amounts of data that is readily available for analysis on the click of a button thanks to data mining and exploration technologies developed to cater this very need. A niche category of such data exploration software is called Business Intelligence software. BI software is specialized for data drill downs and ad-hoc report generation usually based on some kind of OLAP technology.

I feel intrigued to see & use stuff like NoSQL, Hadoop, Green Plum, Infobright, Pentaho and InfiniDB and hence feel the need to share what I have experienced with these. Hence the start up of a new blog focused on Business Intelligence.

Please stay tuned for more as new articles get written. 🙂


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