Business intelligence tools are analysis tools that are used either as a supplement to database programs, standard business application systems or as special tools in the context of computer-aided controlling.
The benefits of analytical databases (data warehouse and data mart) essentially depend on the evaluation options made available to the end user. The decisive factor here is the extent to which the specific information needs of different end users can be satisfied. Only 10 to a maximum of 20% of the potential users of a data warehouse can efficiently operate and understand ad hoc query and reporting tools. It is therefore necessary to provide users with applications that are easy to use and relieve them of the task of having to formulate a database query directly.
Different classes of business intelligence tools can be differentiated: Query and reporting tools are often based directly on the databases and allow the user, more or less end-user-oriented, to formulate and execute queries on the database. The functions range from simple SQL editors to graphically oriented tools that enable the creation and distribution of standardized reports. In addition, business intelligence tools try to overcome the limitation to flat tables that predominate in relational databases by modeling the data stock in multi-dimensional structures.
This suits the point of view of decision-makers. The users receive very powerful instruments for navigating through the hierarchical levels (drill-down, drill-up and drill-through) as well as for changing the analysis point of view (slice and dice). Data mining tools go beyond that and make it possible to analyze the database without having to formulate an exact question beforehand. This procedure, which is often referred to as non-directional data analysis, is intended to enable previously undiscovered relationships to be extracted from the databases and disclosed to the company. The target groups targeted by the various tools are very different.
This ranges from the support of experienced Excel users through macro extensions in this regard, to analysis-oriented tools for creating and querying reports and graphical evaluations, to solutions that are geared towards top management. The main criterion for a good solution is above all the consistency of the analyzes through the various display tools. The focus of an assessment are criteria for the navigation, visualization and evaluation capabilities of the individual solutions. User orientation is of central importance. Above all, this includes options for changing the view of the data cubes (slice and dice, drill-down and roll-up as well as drill-through).