Dylan's BI Study Notes

My notes about Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing, OLAP, and Master Data Management

Users of Analytics Applications

Posted by Dylan Wan on May 21, 2017

Business User who are consuming the data and the report.  They see the information pushed to them.  They can see alerts in their phone.  They see emails.  They add the page to a bookmark in their browser and periodically look at them.   They are executives, managers, busy users who have other duties.   They don’t spend much time.  They may not come to see the data every day.  In a school system, they are teachers, principals, vice principals, school counselors.  In an corporation, they are the business partners of IT.  They are controllers, account payables, contractor admin, buyers, billing clerks.  Many of them know what information they would like to have and information is essential for their jobs.  They do not like complex navigation.  They would like to see dashboards or data integrated into their portal or the applications they have to use.

Advanced User who are the business users, but can spend more time in defining what they want to see and can share what they found and defined with other business users.  They are the people who we would  like to empower as self service users.  Depending on the job functions, the more automation the above business users can get, the more chance they can become advanced users.  They may not “want to”, but they “have to” as the business requires them to be taking a more analytical roles.  A teacher needs to know how student performs.  A school principals need to know about the performance of the new curriculum, the new program, and the teachers.  They need to know the risks and special events or issues that they need to pay attention to.

Analytics Apps developers as part of the IT.  They develop, deploy, maintain the applications, or they customize the prebuilt applications from software vendors.  Their manager manage contracts and contractors.  They are owners of the applications.  They provide training and documentations.  They ensure the software can work as expected for supporting business functions.  They deal with SQL, web service, metadata, tools that can let them to create dashboard and reports.  They configure the system, including administrating the data security.  They monitor the load of system and ensure the system perform without disruptions to the business processes.

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The analytic platform needs to pay more attentions to the needs of empowering the self service BI.  The vendor’s focus will be to figuring out what the advanced user can and would like to do.

Requiring them to write SQL is not always acceptable.

Requiring them to write formula like using Excel may also not always be acceptable.

Using the UI to do something similar to what SQL can do, but use a more friendly UI to do these:

Select the data attributes or a set of attributes

  • group of attributes and present them in an organized way – Semantic Layer
  • If you select A, you may also want to select B – Very few BI tool does this
  • Since you select A, C and D are enabled
  • Since you would like to select C, we select A for you

Define the filters

  • You should be able to see most recent results – Date, Period, etc. can be used in defining filters
  • You can filter data to see the data that pass given thresholds
  • You filter data and present them separately
  • When you define the filters, the related filter can be filtered too.
  • Define filters for defining metrics.  Only “count” the students who are passed the exam.

Define metrics

  • Ideally metrics should be predefined and should not require the advanced users to create them.
  • If they have to, a very nice guided navigation or a wizard like UI should be available.
  • Aggregations
  • Text process – covert elements represented in rows to a list

Define the grouping criteria

  • After you select this A for grouping, you may want to use B.  This is the drill path or the hierarchy definition.  SQL does not do this, but almost all BI tool do this. Some BI tool provides alternate paths
  • Color coding – grouping is not just about defining a Group By on the data.  It is also about how to display data.
  • Histogram like Dynamic Grouping. Almost all statistic packages can.

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