Irrespective of the chosen styles, your business analytics architecture should be built around three core architecture building blocks to support sourcing, discovering and sharing business analytics across your organization – data integration, analytics and reporting…

Data Integration

Questions to consider:

  • Do you need to access data across multiple databases and systems?
  • Are you confident that your data is clean and consistent?
  • Can you pass data back and forth between operational systems and business analytics components?
Analytics

Questions to consider:

  • Can you support eight levels of analytics?
  • Can you optimize and manage your portfolio of analytical assets?
  • How close to the customer can you push your analytical processing?

The analytics architecture building block should provide the ability to support a range of business needs, including ad hoc, interactive and predictive analysis. In addition, you must consider the effectiveness of operational applications, based on historical trends and prediction of future outcomes that provide real-time input into the decision process. There are eight levels of analytics to consider:

  1. Standard historical reports.
  2. Ad hoc reports requested by the business.
  3. Query drill-down (OLAP) to provide guided exploration of information.
  4. Alerts to notify the business when specific events are detected.
  5. Statistical analysis to determine why things are happening.
  6. Forecasting what will happen if trends continue.
  7. Predictive modeling to determine what will happen next.
  8. Optimization of business processes to accomplish goals.
Reporting

Questions to consider:

  • Can all users ask questions and get a relevant answer?
  • Do you have the ability to present the information in the appropriate format?
  • Can you use multiple channels to share reports?

Reporting itself has evolved beyond querying data and has moved toward interactivity and more specific visualizations. The capabilities provided by the reporting architecture building block should include business stakeholder requirements for self-sufficient decision making. Stakeholders should be able to ask questions, receive an answer that makes sense to them and be able to act upon that information without IT involvement.

This means that presentation and channels are important as more and more information is shared via electronic means such as portals, RSS feeds and e-mail. It is not enough to present a library of standard, tabular reports. Quickly sorting the information to get a few key performance indicators in a visual dashboard represents just an example of the latest technologies that users are demanding.

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