The proliferation of business intelligence (BI) capabilities across an ever-greater number of departments and functions within the enterprise has been the source of much discussion recently. It's no surprise, then, that with increased competition and the rate of change accelerating across numerous industries, decision-making cycles are shortening. Not just major strategic decisions, either, but tactical and operational decisions made by line-of-business owners, managers and directors deep within the organization.

In the past, BI solutions were used by a very limited number of business analysts largely to develop strategic business plans and forecasts, address competitive threats and set policy on long-term strategic issues. Reporting and analysis tools were used mostly to analyze historical data about market size and demand, financial models and national or global market strategies on issues such as where to build the next shipping warehouse or retail store. With today's organizations looking to act on opportunities faster than ever, BI tools have become too valuable not to be used wherever they can deliver insight for day-to-day operational decisions. The result is an increased demand for "live" or real-time BI and reporting, and this places an additional burden on the IT infrastructure group to deliver systems that can provide these capabilities.

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