Q:  

We are in the planning stages of implementing a managed data warehouse. The current solution is an Oracle database which feeds Microsoft Access (MSA). Our finance department supports all current reporting and analysis using MSA. They are content with Microsoft Access. How do I explain to them that MSA is not the tool of choice for BI/performance management/analytics? They want to know "where the value is" in moving to a different tool set. What are some of the negatives associated with MSA?

A:  

Sid Adelman's Answer: People will continue to use the tools they know. Don't try to take MSA away from them and don't try to tell them about the MSA weak points. Show them the improved capabilities of the new BI tool. Those users will only switch if and when you can show them some major benefit with a new BI tool that is unavailable with MSA. Having excellent training and support for the new BI tool will also bring you some converts. Recognize that you will never convince everyone.

Clay Rehm's Answer: Microsoft Access is an easy to use tool and provides a quick value add. However, it is easy to use for people who understand relational database concepts. What about those who don't? It is fairly common for IT and power users to grasp and use Access.

Since these users have had success with Access, it will be difficult to them that it is not the tool of choice until you can show them something better. This will require you to explore the different tools available and bringing demos of them in-house to identify a short list of tools to select from. You should really perform a tool evaluation that meets the needs of the enterprise and then select the tool that meets the majority of your users' needs and expectations.

Les Barbusinski's Answer: Because MSA operates directly against a database (rather than through a "semantic layer" of meta data like a BI tool), MSA is not "agg aware" and cannot automatically take advantage of aggregate tables. Similarly, MSA cannot perform drill-down, drill-across or slice-and-dice operations because it does not recognize star schemas. It also cannot automatically perform time-series analyses (i.e., running averages, YTD summations, This Year/Last Year comparisons, etc.), segmentation analyses (i.e., quartering or deciling), statistical analyses (i.e. Chi Square, regression analysis, correlation analysis, etc.), market basket analyses or hypotheses testing (i.e., distributions, confidence intervals, etc.).

Furthermore, MSA cannot calculate rankings (e.g., top-10 selling SKUs within the top-5 sales regions, etc.) and cannot automatically "flip" a query result set between a grid, graph or chart representation. Additionally, MSA is not collaborative (i.e., there is no built-in mechanism for sharing reports, metrics or macros) and does not generate "alerts" (i.e., automatic notification when a given metric has exceeded a threshold). Most BI tools do all this and more straight out of the box.

My suggestion to you is to contact your favorite BI vendors for help. They will gladly provide you with more than enough "ammunition" to take on the skeptics in your organization. Hope this helps.

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