A case study of business intelligence applications for business users
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AbstractThis research is conducted in two parts, with the first part reviewing the standard industry approach to providing organisations with business intelligence (BI) architecture. The discussion begins with a brief history of the evolution of data warehouses and business intelligence (DW/BI) systems. The generic approach to developing a DW/BI is described and the interfaces and features of BI applications are explored as to how they support the various user roles within an organisation e.g. executive, business user and business analyst. The discussion is presented using references to the Zachman Framework. The second part of the research focuses on a case study examining an organisation's implementation of a bespoke BI solution which is supporting its business managers with decision support, reporting and analysis. Where today's business intelligence is about giving business users the tools to get the information they need out of the data warehouse and thus reducing the reliance on IT departments, the bespoke solution studied puts the reliance on IT staff to support their business intelligence requirements. The BI requirements are compared and contrasted against the features of third party BI tools to reach a conclusion as to whether they support the reporting needs of the planning group in the case study or whether their needs are so specific that a bespoke solution is the best option and thus reliance on IT departments is still necessary to support the delivery of business intelligence. The findings from the first part of the research are the view that for the successful development of BI applications the BI user's needs should be addressed from the requirements stage, and the development of BI applications should run as a parallel activity alongside the data warehouse development activities. The BI applications should be developed by BI developers who have knowledge of the business, rather than technical IT staff. This view is supported by leading DW/BI authors such Kimball et al. (2008). The research also found the needs of the BI application users can be analysed by grouping them into one of five classifications of user - Tourists, Farmers, Explorers, Miners and Operators and that different user interfaces are needed to support their needs. The case study in the second part of the research found that the implementation of the DW/BI system in SAP using SAP BEx software fails to provide planning staff with BI applications that meet with all their reporting and analysis needs and has therefore led to the development of bespoke applications. The findings suggest that this may be because the planning staff were not involved at the scoping and planning stage of developing the DW/BI. The investigations found that most of the features in the bespoke BI system could be developed using a third party solution and that they are available in the SAP family of products. The level of expertise needed to develop the features ranged from easy to technical. The adoption of a third party tool could be used to develop the reports by the BI application developers identified by Kimball et al. (2008) and provide the planning managers with an intuitive and flexible user interface that can be easily customised and maintained. It was also found that SAP BusinessObject's Crystal Reports provide a rich user interface that is easy to use to support most of the BI features.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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