May 8, 2013

What Agile Desktop BI Tool Really Means?

BI (Business Intelligence) refers to the intelligence and ability to enhance the enterprises competitiveness, involving report presentation, reporting result calculation, OLAP analysis, business data calculation, data mining and predication. Among these, there are both the technician-oriented high-level systems, and the business user-oriented agile desktop BI tools. In this post, we only talk about agile desktop BI tools. But what is agile desktop BI tool and what are their standards?

Agile desktop BI software should have the following features:

Common BI features support:

The agile desktop BI software should fit for those business personnel to prepare the static report by themselves, even if they are inexperienced in IT. The friendly reporting design interface is necessary. It also supports the rapid reporting, the business personnel-oriented data processing, and high fidelity report preparation. In other words, it is capable to keep reports consistent in the stages of design, preview, pagination & printing, and export.

For example, make a product sales situation report for specific products to present the monthly sales of 3 products, and their link relative ratio, and monthly year-on-year growth.

The agile desktop BI software supports the calculation on the result of common reporting tools. Excel and the plain txt are the export formats supported by most reporting tools. It can import and calculate them directly; supports the data pasting from the report result directly on the clipboard; provides the calculator-style operation for business personnel; capable to conduct any process on data and the calculation between steps can be transited smoothly. 

For example, the reporting tools generate the below report result:


Find the big clients who account for 60% of the total sales of the company based on the above data. The result is as follows:


The agile desktop BI tools support the true OLAP analysis. It is capable to perform the interactive analysis arbitrarily and intuitively, decompose and simplify the obscure analysis goal. It provides the basic analysis methods that are both simple and easy to use. Then, lots of advanced analyses can be implemented through the free combination. esCalc is such kind of desktop BI software. With an Excel-style, esCalc becomes relatively easier to understand and learn. Moreover, esCalc also provides a range of powerful advanced functions to solve the complex problems regarding OLAP.

Agile installation deployment:

The size of the agile BI tool should be very small and easy to install and uninstall. For example, esCalc installer is only dozens of MB and only requires a few clicks to install and run, which is the typical example of agile desktop BI software. Agile desktop BI tools are capable to run on most desktop computers independently, not having to deploy the additional server:

Agile desktop BI software supports various mainstream databases, like esCalc which can manipulate data from different databases, including MSSQL, Oracle, Access, MySQL, DB2, and Sybase. This desktop BI software also supports the local data files, for example, Txt, Log, tab, and other text files; Excel 97, Excel 2010, and the Excel of other versions. It also supports the interactive calculation between various data sources, such as the calculation between Oracle and Excel.


Agile formula functions:

Agile BI software also provides the agile formulas and functions, so that the business personnel can easily represent the relatively complex calculations, such as comparison on year-on-year basis, link relative ratio, set operations, ranking and row number calculations.

For instance, calculate the players whose rankings are among the top 5 in every game. We take esCalc, the agile desktop BI software as an example. The data available is as follows:


Simply
input "={A3}" in E2, and the top 5 players of each game will be calculated out in E2, E8, and E14. Input "={E2}.isect ()" in E1, then the players whose rankings are among the top 5 in every game will be calculated automatically. In which, the function "isect" is to calculate the intersection of sets, and "{E2}" is a set to indicate "cells shares the same meaning with E2 regarding business” (homocell by name), that is, E2, E8, and E14.

It also has the similar function like:

diff(): Calculate the difference set of a group of data; for example, calculate the employee who made a full attendance in this quarter. You can calculate through the formulas like [set of employees, employee who ever absent in the 1st month, employee who ever absent in the 2nd month, employee who ever absent in the 3rd month].diff() to calculate.

There are also other advanced functions available, such as the sum(~*~) to calculate the sum of squares of a certain group of data; cumulate() to calculate the cumulative value of a group of data, ord() to calculate the relative row number in the calculation hierarchy, and ranki() to calculate the ranking of a certain number in a group of numbers.

All in all, agile desktop BI software supports the common BI functions, and is business personnel-oriented in the respect of installation deployment, and formula function.