A successful reporting platform implementation in a business intelligence environment requires great attention to be paid from both the business end users and IT professionals.
The fact is that the reporting layer is what business users might consider a data warehouse system and if they do not like it, they will not use it. Even though it might be a perfectly maintained data warehouse with high-quality data, stable and optimized ETL processes and faultless operation. It will be just useless for them, thus useless for the whole organization.
The problem is that the report generation process is not particularly interesting from the IT point of view as it does not involve heavy data processing and manipulation tasks. The IT professionals do not tend to pay great attention to this BI area as they consider it rather 'look and feel' than the 'real heavy stuff'.
From the other hand, the lack of technical exposure of the business users usually makes the report design process too complicated for them.
The conclusion is that the key to success in reporting (and the whole BI environment) is the collaboration between the business and IT professionals.
Types of reports
Reporting is a broad BI category and there is plenty of options and modes of its generation, definition, design, formatting and propagation.
The report types can be divided into several groups, illustrated below:
Standard, static reports
Sample applications: Cognos Report Studio, Crystal Reports, BIRT
Sample applications: Cognos Analysis Studio
Interactive, multidimensional OLAP reports
Sample applications: Cognos PowerPlay, Business Objects, Pentaho Mondrian
Sample applications: Pentaho Dashboards, Oracle Hyperion, Microsoft SharePoint Server, Cognos Connection Portal
Those are interactive reports directly linked to the Data Warehouse which allow modification of the data warehouse data.
By far the most often use of this kind of reports is:
Sample applications: Cognos Planning, SAP, Microsoft Access and Excel
This group of reports is usually generated to fulfill the needs of the following areas:
The most widely used reporting platforms: