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Custom Business Views for Oracle BI

This article is part of the Best Practices White Paper Knowledge Management [October 2008]
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Oracle Business Intelligence provides a BI platform that includes many components enabling customers to address their BI requirements for operational, tactical and strategic reporting. Customers’ reporting needs can be met by combining direct access to data in the Oracle E-Business Suite transaction database and data that has been moved to a data warehouse. Through these two approaches (direct access plus data warehouse), customers can achieve all of their BI objectives with Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition Plus (OBI EE).

OBI EE is a separate offering from Oracle’s BI Applications. Oracle BI Applications are built on OBI EE and require the technology platform for their operation. They provide a specific implementation, with specific benefits and limitations of a data-warehouse-centric business intelligence solution built on top of Oracle’s BI platform.

OBI EE key components: OBI EE combines a BI server with BI presentation tools and specialty BI reporting tools (Hyperion). OBI EE is an integrated suite sharing a common service-oriented architecture; common data access services; common analytic and calculation infrastructure; common metadata management services; a common semantic business model; a common security model and user preferences; and common administration tools. Oracle BI Applications are not required to deploy OBI EE.

OBI EE consists of several interdependent components, built around the Oracle BI Server. Key components include:

  • Oracle BI Server—a scalable, efficient query and analysis server that integrates data via sophisticated query federation capabilities from multiple relational, unstructured, OLAP and pre-packaged application sources, whether Oracle or non-Oracle;
  • Oracle BI Answers—an ad hoc query and analysis tool that works against a logical view of information from multiple data sources in a pure Web environment;
  • Oracle BI Interactive Dashboards—rich, interactive, pure Web dashboards that display personalized information to help guide users in effective decision-making;
  • Oracle BI Publisher—a scalable reporting engine capable of generating reports from multiple data sources in multiple formats via multiple delivery channels; and
  • Oracle BI Office Plug-In—automatically synchronizes information from Answers to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Oracle BI applications: It is important to note that OBI EE does not include Oracle’s Business Intelligence Applications—prebuilt BI solutions that deliver role-based intelligence to front-line employees and senior management that enable better decisions, actions and business processes. These BI applications include Oracle Financial Analytics, Oracle HR Analytics, Oracle Order Management and Fulfillment Analytics, Oracle Supply Chain Analytics, Oracle Sales Analytics, Oracle Service Analytics, Oracle Contact Center Telephony Analytics, Oracle Marketing Analytics and Oracle Usage Accelerator for CRM.

Meeting Reporting Needs
Business intelligence experts typically identify three basic kinds of reports that every business needs. These reporting types are:

  • Operational reports that support the normal day-to-day operations of the organization. Typical reports include transaction-level reports for invoices, support incidents, inventory levels, order tracking and head count. Operational reports provide information at a very granular level, typically consisting of data that comes directly from an operational transaction system;
  • Tactical reports which are intended for monitoring and responding quickly to a variety of short-term situations. Examples of reports in this category may include payroll summaries for the past week and this week’s projections, or inventory levels for last week and projections for the coming week; and
  • Strategic reports that typically measure similar types of information as tactical reports but often stretch their analysis over longer periods of time. Examples include analyzing sales by region, by time period or by product line and project profitability, by project type or by division or by customer. Strategic reports often compare data in year over year or other comparisons over long time periods.

Because OBI EE’s architecture is flexible, it provides a solid foundation for all three types of reporting. For operational and tactical reporting, OBI EE provides the capability to access information directly from the transaction databases themselves. For strategic reporting, OBI EE provides an integrated data warehouse. Oracle BI applications include ETL scripts to populate the data warehouse along with reports and dashboards that access its information.

Rapid Results Without a Data Warehouse
Customers can rapidly realize value from their investment in OBI EE without implementing a data warehouse. Delivering operational and tactical reports through direct access to transactional systems is completely compatible with delivering strategic reports through a data warehouse. If a customer does have data warehouse needs along with immediate reporting requirements, they can choose to implement a solution that will easily deliver operational, tactical and strategic reports while working on their long-term data warehouse initiatives.

Many customers have concerns regarding performance degradation on their transaction system when a reporting solution is allowed to query the same transaction tables at the same time the application users are processing transactions. Customers can avoid this potential impact by making a copy of the database and reporting from that copy, or by creating a data warehouse. Both of these solutions require additional computing resources, software infrastructure and IT expertise.

In the case of data warehouses, they typically require extensive software development and high maintenance costs to deliver and maintain just a handful of reports. Not all organizations are able to absorb the extra time, money and risk necessary to make this long-term approach feasible. In addition, there is a very real possibility that a data warehouse project will fall short of the original justifications for it.

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