When you get a new PC, how do you spend your first few hours with it? If you're like me, you install the software you want and get modems, printers and other peripherals working. You set up shortcuts, arrange icons on the work space so you know where everything is, decide on a screen saver, wallpaper and audio properties. In short, you customize your environment to facilitate the way you want to work. We all work differently, and it is a personal computer, after all! I subscribe to a news service, where in my e-mail in basket every day is a customized listing of news articles relevant to my interests; I can read an article's summary and click on an icon to get the full text if I desire. When I initiated the service, I indicated what topics were of interest to me data warehousing, business intelligence, OLAP, data mining, and so forth. In effect, I customized my environment for receiving news. It makes me more efficient, and I receive notification of articles via a medium I am very comfortable with e-mail. In addition, my pager provides me with periodic stock quotes and weather reports for the locations to which I travel most often. Again, I have customized my information delivery environment.
I was recently delighted to find out that several business intelligence tool vendors are now incorporating the ability to customize not only what enterprise information you see but also how information is delivered to you. This represents a significant new trend for the BI tool market. Why? Because it extends the reach of business intelligence beyond the analyst or knowledge worker population. It makes BI obtainable by the masses. No longer is it necessary for everyone wanting data warehouse access to learn a query, reporting, EIS, OLAP or decision support system tool in order to obtain desired information. Instead of a pull of information via a query, report or analysis, this new generation of BI tools represents a push approach. Information is pushed, or delivered to you the way you want it on the Web, on e-mail, voice mail, even on a pager or PalmPilot.
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