Since the early days of decision support system development, the latency between when transactions occur and when the data is available for reporting has been a headache for managers. Lately, new technologies such as messaging and enterprise application integration (EAI) software have provided increasingly better capabilities to build real-time data warehouses and better integrated analytics. This article looks at some of the options organizations have when attempting to increase the traditional decision support system's ability to also support timely operational reporting.

Data latency is an old reporting problem. In the 1960s and 1970s, managers had to load data from punch cards and tapes before reports could be generated. In the 1980s, specialized transaction systems and the emergence of PCs created a proliferation of spreadsheets and desktop tools that had to be periodically updated with fresh data. Some organizations were meeting the challenges of real-time operational reporting by simply allowing users to query the transaction systems. For most organizations, this was not an option. There were simply not enough system resources to support a large number of users accessing gigabytes of data. Allowing extensive querying of the systems could also delay critical processing of transactions.

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