Investigating Business Data Many company managers and analysts

Investigating Business Data Many company managers and analysts today are preoccupied with investigating business data. For companies that still have legacy systems systems installed in the 1980s or 90s that were developed on mainframe platforms or other platforms that new systems no longer use accessing the data for reporting and analysis can prove a challenge. Many business people have turned to spreadsheets for rekeying legacy data and creating some analysis based on the data. Databases such as Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle are becoming the information storage system of choice. Databases allow for easyaccess to information in tables that can be queried with reporting tools. Applying good reporting principles to the information in these databases can provide valuable insight into business operations. Being able to drill down into information for more detail or charting information to see trends in the information is business intelligence. Business intelligence (BI) solutions integrate information from multiple data sources and realign the data into structures that are ideal for reporting, drilling down, and trending. These hybrid data models provide greater value for users, including more insightful information content in reports. Smart users who know the tools can then explore information effectively to gain insight into the underlying information. In a well-executed BI solution, users have self-service access to reporting tools like Reporting Services. Self-service reporting for everyone is a nirvana state of business intelligence. Business people need to be able to freely explore appropriate information with interactive reports or view relevant performance data through dashboards. Dashboards are a common user interface for executives who typically have little training or knowledge in computers and therefore require very intuitive controls for interacting with the information. These varied reports become a truly analytical support system that can provide the perspectives necessary to increase the agility of your organization. Reporting Services is one tool that can be leveraged to provide this type of analytical framework. Uncovering the Major Features of Reporting Services Earlier sections in this chapter spell out in general the many principles related to creating, distributing, and managing those reports supported by Reporting Services. Now it s time to do a bit of our own drilling down by examining in greater detail the basic capabilities of Reporting Services proper. Hopefully, Chapter 1: Getting Familiar with Reporting Services 15

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