When the business intelligence (BI) hype started in the mid-1990s, the idea was that everyone would have access to all of the data and would be able to create whatever reports or perform whatever analysis they would like. Reporting and analysis would become completely self-service, empowering users and freeing IT.As BI emerged, we found that the requirements were much more complicated. Today, it is very clear how different constituencies use different parts of the BI stack. Analysts create ad hoc reports, perform analysis by using iterative queries and OLAP, perform statistical analysis and create new management reports for their group. Managers want to be able to download existing reports, rerun reports and change parameters on a report such as the time frame, the geography, the salesperson or the metrics. Managers and executive management want to see graphical dashboards that instantly and, in some cases, proactively point out strengths and weaknesses in certain business processes or metrics. Once an issue is identified, management can assign an analyst to dive into more detail in order to find out the root cause.
The kicker is, while it was once thought that 80 percent of users would perform ad hoc query, the number is really more like less than 20 percent and closer to 10 percent at many organizations. Performing ad hoc query has turned out to be much more difficult than originally thought. This fact is not completely a software usability issue; it also has to do with individuals' knowledge of the intricacies of the data, their analytical training and the amount of time they can devote to analysis and reporting each day. This same division of users is now plaguing the customer intelligence area, specifically in the campaign management area.
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