Most executives would agree that accurate and timely information is central to their ability to successfully manage their business. So is the ability to analyze market and sales trends, determine individual product (or job) profitability, discern customer behavior patterns, and the like. Most without this capability will admit to a great and growing sense of unease, as they attempt to navigate today’s ever-changing corporate currents. It’s the stuff sleepless nights are made of.
In recent years, this has spawned a new category of software applications known as on-line analytical processing (OLAP) tools. Their central purpose is to transform mountains of data into meaningful information and business insAights that can then be used to make sound business decisions and strategic choices.
This is the broad domain of what has become known in technological circles as “Business Intelligence”. Massive investments have been made in “data warehouses” that house the needed raw material (data), and the analytical tools that manipulate and analyze that data.
With its recent release of SQL Reporting Services (SRS), and its “bundling” with SQL server as a database engine, Microsoft has taken a significant step towards fulfilling a company’s need for Business Intelligence, at a reasonable price.
Because many if not most small to mid size operations whose businesses demand the use of databases will already have SQL Server, and because SRS is now “bundled” with this database engine (effectively making it “free”), there is now often little need for another 3rd. party OLAP tool. The result? Business Intelligence at a discount, in some cases as much as half of its historical cost.
Still required, of course, is the development of the analytical and reporting framework, and the actual production of these reports, but a significant layer of cost has been removed for many companies. If you own SQL Server, you now also own a powerful analytical and reporting tool.
Best of all, this analytical and reporting capability is now almost entirely web-enabled, so the information needed to successfully pilot a business is truly now available anywhere, anytime.
So check it out – the ability to better pilot your organization with better management reporting, analysis, and information may be closer than you think.