Tradition Report Writers pull data from a relational database, into a report, for ad-hoc run by user, either on the web or client side, to consume data, to get a pulse of the business and eventually base a decision or action resulting into betting their position than before.
This takes time.
Time to gather specs.
Time to locate the data.
Time to write queries, often complex.
And create a report.
This model works.
Although the process could be improved.
It could be streamlined, by removing the middleman.
The role of the Report Writer can be somewhat replaced by improved software.
Now data can be accessed via the web, by the end user, as long as the infrastructure is in place.
That means the data would have to be known ahead of time.
A layer of meta-data needs to be created.
And accessible for end users.
So security must be in place.
This is already a reality.
There are software vendors such as Tableau and QlikView which have done a great job to empower the users.
However, Microsoft has improved their BI stack with the latest version of SQL-Server 2012.
Now users can gather disparate data from multiple sources including Public Data in a Microsoft Excel 2012 Plug-In called Power Pivot, join tables based on common keys, add Business Logic using DAX language, save the data to SharePoint, and create reports using PowerView.
If the data is good and used in many reports, IT can convert that dataset to SSAS Cubes for Enterprise level refreshes and consumption.
Users can run their reports, save them, schedule them without a ticket to the help desk or a phone call to IT Report Writer.
By empowering the users, you get faster access to the info, for quicker decisions, and that's the basis of Business Intelligence, get accurate data to right user in fast time, in order to take action and improve process / increase revenue.
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