Business Intelligence Competency Center Common View  -  Deep Understanding  -  Better Decisions

BI Tools

A wide range of BI tools are used at Purdue.  The following tools are either fully or partially support by the BICC:

Other BI tools used at the university including, but are not limited to:

Why so many tools?  In some cases, legacy (existing) use of a tool dictates its continued use such as with Brio and BEx, but capabilities are the real driving reason a tool is needed.  There are many needs a user may have and different tools meet those needs.  Cognos is our primary BI tool and covers a wide range of capabilities but other tools are needed to fill the gaps.  The BICC uses four broad categories of BI capabilities when considering BI tools: Reporting, Dashboarding, Exploration, and Statistics.  Figure 1 gives detailed descriptions of these categories.  This list can change as new technologies and capabilities emerge.  Tools are then mapped to those capability categories.  If no tool ends up mapped to all or part of a category, then this indicates a gap in capability for the organization.  Figure 2 shows the current suite of supported tools and their coverage of the capabilities.

Tools

Business Explorer (BEx)

BEx is a set of tools from SAP used to access the SAP Business Warehouse (BW).  The tool set continues to be supported by SAP though it is no longer being enhanced due to SAPs acquisition and shift of focus to Business Objects.  BEx consists of three tools:

  • Query Designer - used to build queries against the SAP BW
  • Analyzer - used to execute queries that were built with Query Designer and analyze data; this is an add-on to Excel
  • Web Analyzer - used to view queries in the OnePurdue portal

Query Designer and Analyzer are both desktop tools.  Web Analyzer is a web-based tool embedded in the OnePurdue Portal.

While Cognos is now the primary BI tool, BEx continues to be utilized fairly extensively by areas to access the data models in the SAP BW, most notably Grants Management.  BEx will continue to be supported as long as BW is a significant source of data.

Brio Query

Brio is a desktop tool that can be used to do query and reporting against a wide variety of data sources.  Brio was previously owned by Hyperion but is now owned by Oracle, purchased as part of their Hyperion acquisition.  Oracle has since deprecated Brio Query; it is no longer supported and no new licenses can be purchased.

Brio was the primary tool used at Purdue to access the legacy Decision Support System (DSS) and is still used today for that purpose and for many other data access needs.

The BICC continues to offer support for Brio.  However, due to its unsupported nature by the vendor, we are limited in the support that can be offered.  If a future operating system or database version causes Brio to stop functioning, there will be nothing we can do.  For this reason, departments are encouraged to shift their query and reporting to another tool if possible.  The BICC is also looking into an alternative tool for general desktop query and analysis.

SAS

SAS--originally known as Statistical Analysis System, and now simply SAS--is a software suite developed by the SAS Institute, Inc.  SAS is used for data management and statistical analysis, including both descriptive and predictive.  It also can be used for data mining.  SAS provides a graphical point-and-click user interface and more advanced options through the SAS programming language.

SAS is used in some areas of the university.  The BICC currently has no plans to directly support SAS, but acknowledges that it will continue to be used and be a key business intelligence tool for some areas.

SPSS Statistics

SPSS (originally named Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, and now simply SPSS) is a software package used for data management and statistical analysis, including descriptive, predictive.  It also includes a data mining product.  It was originally produced by SPSS Inc. but was acquired by IBM in 2009.  SPSS can be used from a graphic user interface or can be programmed with a proprietary 4GL command syntax language.

SPSS is used across the university.  The BICC has a small number of SPSS Modeler licenses and is just beginning to investigate this tool as a predictive analytics tool.

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