Typically, users will fall into one of three categories in relation to the timeliness of data required:
* Report broadcasts and scheduling: Many BI users won’t require real-time data access. For example, the marketing department of BigBrands Co. might rely on weekly sales reports to gauge the effectiveness of brand strategies and specific marketing campaigns over a significant period of time. Daily, or real-time reports – such as transaction level reports – would provide too much detail. The strength of BI in this instance is in its ability to track and identifying trends over time, while simultaneously allowing users to connect shifts in the data to real-life events (marketing campaigns) to support strategy development.
* Alerts: In some instances, certain user groups won’t need to actively monitor business activities, but just the ability to be alerted to abnormal or unacceptable circumstances – when key metrics fall outside predefined parameters. For example, the accounts payable team at ImpressivelyBig Int. Ltd don’t need constant data access to perform their daily tasks. However, if an invoice sent to Sandy is set to pass its payment deadline, an alert can grab her attention to ensure that it’s processed in a timely manner.
* On-demand data access: Some users will require the ability to directly access and search real-time, or near real-time, operational data and reports, as well as perform ad-hoc queries. For example, BI users coordinating the intersection of ‘just in time’ manufacturing and supply chain operations would demand the ability to access, analyse and act on up-to-the-minute reports and data to ensure the timely delivery of stock from the warehouse, to transport operators, and to retail outlets.