IT, business intelligence in harmony

There’s so much noise generated by experts chanting the “information is key to business success” mantra that it’s a mush of jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and classical instead of a single piece of music.

Certainly information is a vital part of every business, but we all wince at the sight of piles of reports on our desks. Now IT aims to pick up where those stacks of green-bar computer printouts left off. No longer will anyone comb through pages to assemble charts, tables and graphs of sales, revenue and expense reports.

Business intelligence vendors such as Cognos Inc., Crystal Decisions Inc. and Business Objects Inc. combine various Internet-based technologies with thin clients to push business reporting tools further down into a company’s operations, making it possible for line personnel to have the reports they need along with sophisticated analytics.

At ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, access to graphically presented reports by departments such as marketing, sales and manufacturing comes courtesy of business intelligence software from Business Objects. Hard-copy reports are out. Outwardly facing Web-based connections to back-end systems are in.

A line manager checking a parts inventory or an accounts-payable clerk looking to see which invoices must be paid don’t need two separate IT systems. For strategic thinkers, access to different versions of a report (who says you can’t slice and dice information?) means there’s no excuse for departments not knowing the overall picture.

Connecting to larger-scale ERP and CRM systems from Siebel Systems, SAP and PeopleSoft is easier thanks to TCP/IP connections and the general openness of LANs and WANs. As a result, more people have cost-effective access to the network.

Tools from vendors such as Crystal Decisions can be a part of the IT infrastructure if your company lives by the reports it uses.

But there are some IT details to investigate. How does the business intelligence system schedule data extraction? Can you gather data from multiple locations? How about from disparate systems? Determine how difficult data integration will be before you go soft at the knees drooling over the myriad reports and formats you can click through.

Check for sign-on functions that integrate with existing security roles, and ask about database drivers (ODBC, MDX and COM objects) to make sure yours are supported and work.

Business intelligence can be a harmony, but for that to happen, IT’s got to pick up the conductor’s baton.

Pimm Fox is Computerworld (US)’s West Coast bureau chief. Contact him at[email protected].

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Featured Articles

Empowering the hybrid workforce: how technology can build a better employee experience

Across the country, employees from organizations of all sizes expect flexibility...

What’s behind the best customer experience: How to make it real for your business

The best customer experience – the kind that builds businesses and...

Overcoming the obstacles to optimized operations

Network-driven optimization is a top priority for many Canadian business leaders...

Thriving amid Canada’s tech talent shortage

With today’s tight labour market, rising customer demands, fast-evolving cyber threats...

Staying protected and compliant in an evolving IT landscape

Canadian businesses have changed remarkably and quickly over the last few...

Related Tech News

Tech Jobs

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.

Tech Companies Hiring Right Now