Metrics Builder puts business users in control of BI data -- at a priceFollow @infoworld
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IDEALLY, BUSINESS MANAGERS should be able to analyze company performance without having to first call in a SWAT team of programmers and DBAs. After all, business requirements and objectives change frequently according to external and internal factors, such as economic cycles, market dynamics, and skill and performance of the workforce.
Unfortunately, many BI (business intelligence) solutions offer managers and business analysts a limited degree of flexibility beyond preconfigured metrics, which may result in waiting for IT to administer the tool, just when it's needed most.
Metrics Builder 7.0, a recent addition to the Brio Performance Suite, addresses that exact problem. We found Metrics Builder to be a very flexible, easy-to-use tool that allows business analysts to create dynamic dashboards, which contain online charts and reports that change dynamically according to new data and user profiles. The product name could be deceiving since Metrics Builder is also the vehicle to deliver those dashboards to company managers who can access personalized results from a friendly, browser-contained GUI.
Probably the most interesting aspect of Metrics Builder is its potential to be IT-agnostic. Granted, deploying the solution's complex architecture requires IT support and possibly implementation assistance from Brio. But once the solution is up and running, you may never need to bring technical people in the loop again, except to perform routine operations and maintenance tasks, such as optimizing queries for faster responses or refreshing the Data Mart with new transactional data.
With that in mind, Metrics Builder can be regarded as the logical evolution of those spreadsheets that marked the end of business users' dependency on IT two decades ago. Metrics Builder's capabilities exceed those of a simple spreadsheet, however, delivering the aforementioned dynamic dashboard. With a few mouse clicks, the information presented on these dashboards can be sliced and diced to the desired level of detail, down to single transactions. Moreover, Metrics Builder has powerful dashboard cloning features that ease the task of keeping problem areas under control.
An overview of Metrics Builder's architecture and features illuminates the solution's inner workings. A built-in separation between metrics that are already deployed and others that are being developed helps business analysts explore new algorithms without disrupting other users. Evolving metrics are not only kept in a separate library, they're dispatched to a different server, which makes it easy to dedicate different machines to prevent, for instance, a wild query from locking up the production environment.
Both environments share the same Data Mart that is fed with transactional data, using data transformation tools of your choice (one of those routine IT tasks that we mentioned before). Moreover, business analysts can add information to the Data Mart from a spreadsheet, from example or from the resulting data of new metrics, which is clearly a flexible and effective alternative to submitting a ticket to your IT people.