Operational Reporting Problems.

By: Susan Sportman

Many organisations face a paradox in their data management. On the one hand, they hold vastly increasing amounts of data; with the other hand, they find it increasingly tricky to extract meaningful information from the data.

The bigger corporate issue is that the majority of end users are not getting the information they require when they need it in the form they prefer ( typically Microsoft Excel ). Surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of organisations could solve the situation easily, thanks to an existing information asset: the existing report output already produced by the organisation's current applications, data warehouses and third-party report providers.

Activating existing data:
Conventional wisdom says that existing reports cannot be used as a source of data analysis or visualisation because they are static; they will not allow the user to ask questions concerning the data and to see different data views. Thanks to Report Activation, this is no longer true.: existing reports can now be transformed on demand into live, actionable data for easy analysis, without reviewing new database programming.

Most information systems typically provide a vast library of existing reports and business documents such as invoices, purchase orders and bills of materials. Such systems range from legacy mainframes, ERP, HR, and payroll, industry specific core processing systems for banking, healthcare and retail, whether these systems are managed in-house or by an outside data processing firm. These reports are the chief source of knowledge in most businesses.

Using Report Activation technology to access existing report output from these systems provides a systematic solution to accessing required information without the requirement for programmers and other expensive IT resources.

Reported by IBM and industry studies, the average billion dollar organisation has no fewer than 48 disparate financial systems in use within the company. Additionally, as much as 40% of IT budgets might be spent on data integration projects to bring these separate databases together.

Report activation technology makes it possible for the building of data extraction models that perform intelligent recognition and parsing of data functions within existing reports (typically in plain text of PDF format) Executed models obtains desired information from these reports and transforms the data into usable, computer-readable formats. Extracted data can be loaded into valid data tables, complete with optional calculated fields of data along with the database lookups. The data extraction models have the ability to perform data sorting and filtering functions, as well as the ability to mix data from other report sources.

The self-service capabilities of Report Activation can also translate readily compelling reductions to an organisations total cost of ownership (TCO) of its enterprise information systems. Because users of a Report Activation system are accessing data mined from archived report output instead of, for example, live data from a production ERP system, the organisation can reduce significantly the quantity of live seats to the ERP system.

So a Report Activation system can benefit companies with a dramatically faster and easier implementation cycle, extreme ease of use and ability to supply the right person at the right time, at a fraction of the complexity and price of traditional business reporting solutions and processes.

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