The value of having a Business Intelligence (BI) tool is inarguable at this point. The conversation nowadays is ultimately the dilemma of having to choose the right BI tool. Every Business Intelligence solution provider claims access to real-time data, and it can be difficult to decipher between which software actually delivers on its promise and which solution provider is just making up marketing mumbo-jumbo. Without arming yourself with the right information and questions to ask vendors, you may find yourself needing another solution soon after implementing one. Here is some information to get you started as you choose the Business Intelligence tool that fits your real-time data needs:
Find out how the software performs real-time data updates
It’s not enough to hear the sales personnel that you communicate with tell you that their software will offer you real-time data updates and/or automatic updates. Besides asking to see a demonstration, you may also want to find out how this process happens. If you are not a technical person it may be best to have an IT professional or someone who is more technically inclined with you when you engage in this conversation.
Understand the difference between real-time data & automatic non-copying real-time
While most Business Intelligence solutions do have some real-time data capabilities most of the time reporting and data updating may not be instantaneous and happens through a copying process. Data from a relational database source, where data is warehoused, is typically copied to a multidimensional source where it can be analyzed. When this happens, it is not real-time and involves copying. For some businesses, a copy may be enough.
When choosing a Business Intelligence solution that truly delivers true real-time data, it is important to understand how real-time data updates take place. If your data is warehoused in a relational database, such as Microsoft SQL™ server, a Business Intelligence tool must be dynamically connected to that SQL Server to deliver truly instant updates. The ultimate instant-updating tool would have an in-memory capacity in your relational database to prevent copying data from relational data source to analytical ones each time new information is added. Note that, simply stating that a BI tool has an in-memory capacity does not necessarily mean that it dynamically connects to your relational database. Therefore, be sure to ask about how the in-memory feature of the Business Intelligence solution works.
Choosing a solution such as OLATION‘s Visionary Intelligence solution helps businesses to maintain the integrity of their existing database and delivers “real, real-time data” with non-copying automatic updates. OLATION’s in-memory feature integrates with other relational databases such as Microsoft SQL Server™. This capability prevents the need to have to copy data from relational data sources to multidimensional (analytical) sources for reporting, planning, analyzing and forecasting functions. With your most intuitive and easy-to-use multidimensional dashboard serving as OLATION’s browser, users can still maintain the user-end software of their choice such as Excel, Access, web browsers and even other solution providers such as SAP Business One, Oracle and others. Essentially, a real-time BI tool should be automatic and maintain security by cutting out the copying of data.