IT managers have enough on their plate. They don't need to worry about operational reporting problems.

While it’s important to consolidate data to create reports, it’s just as vital to do so without obstructions. Unfortunately, problems exist with operational reporting solutions, and sometimes these issues have more to do with the companies developing them than with the actual software. Case in point: Oracle’s Discoverer.

A few years ago, Oracle published a report describing the process it was going to take to de-support its Discoverer reporting tool. The publication even included an advice section for customers who weren’t sure what to do next.

“Oracle’s resources will focus on Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite or the Fusion Middleware 12c timeframe, and Oracle Intelligence Discoverer will no longer be updated in line with this portfolio update,” the report read.

Oracle then listed its lifetime support policy, which included an indefinite “sustaining support ending” and an “extending support ending” date of June 2017. In other words, Oracle had no plans to put further research and development into Discoverer. As a result, customers should have taken notice, expected technical support to wane in the coming months and upgrades to grind to a halt. In turn, managers would have to find an alternative program, which, to Oracle, was their complex BI platform, OBIEE.

While Oracle probably thought shifting products was an easy fix, the transition created (and still does spawn) problems for companies that had (and have) no desire to switch over from Discoverer to OBIEE – the “next step” Oracle continues to push. Companies don’t like to switch reporting platforms for a variety of reasons, but one motive stands above the rest: a lack of resources. Many businesses don’t have a dozen reports that need to be upgraded to fit new reporting software – they have hundreds or some times thousands. And while some reports will make the switch, many will have to be completely rebuilt.

“Companies don’t like to switch reporting platforms because of a lack of resources.”

Transitioning from one reporting platform to another can cause problems, as we will discuss shortly. Not only do managers have to ensure data accuracy, they must be able to trust the new platform will operate glitch-free.

Repercussions if operational reporting problems aren’t fixed
Operational reporting tools spotlight a company’s real-time operational situation. What if, however, that tool failed to properly refresh and update data? Would the program inform the manager? Would the data just sit stagnate until someone stumbled upon the mistake days or weeks later? How would this mistake affect the company across departments? We’d have to imagine that, by the time someone caught the error, high-level decisions have already been made.

These are all questions managers must ask themselves as they contemplate whether to discontinue using Oracle now that Discoverer is outdated. (Word of advice: Don’t stop using Oracle, but we’ll get into that shortly.)

Reporting tools that make mistakes or experience technical meltdowns can cost companies thousands, if not millions, of dollars. These platforms don’t just serve the managers who are operating them, they also serve employees and stakeholders. Data may affect the former’s functions as managers use it to (wrongly) refocus tasks and make key business decisions. It also tells stakeholders how to evaluate the performance of the company and adjust course if necessary. Imagine being invested in a major corporation and then finding out they reversed course on a decision they made? We’d assume you’d lose confidence in them. In turn, sales could plummet.

Unfortunately, companies have another problem on their hands: Many tools don’t accurately systematize incoming data and thus, cause companies to miss out on key growth opportunities.

“Knowledge is power – but only if it can be extracted quickly and efficiently from an ever growing mass of data,” stated IBM in their report, “The toxic terabyte.”

IBM brought up a relevant point concerning the mistake companies make when they simply toss (knowingly or unknowingly) their data into what IBM calls a “limitless reservoir.” It then points out this futile approach damages companies in three ways:

  1. Businesses struggle to quickly retrieve information they need.
  2. An increasing number of employees are needed to supervise the influx of new data.
  3. Program performance slows as these employees rush to organize and make sense of the data.

Along with these three points, we can actually add a fourth point to IBM’s list: Companies fail to capture new data-driven business opportunities when they have to deal with common problems in operational reporting software.

Solutions to operational reporting
Here’s the simple solution: look for an easy to use operational reporting tool that your users will love, like Reporting Workbench, which connects directly to Oracle E-Business Suite. Reporting Workbench is the alternative operational reporting solution that solves the problems IT professionals face when switching to a new reporting platform – it will even migrate your existing Discoverer reports. There is no need to purchase additional hardware or hire additional resources. Reporting Workbench offers 900-plus prebuilt reports that managers can quickly view in charts, graphs and Smart Grids and send to other employees in Excel publisher or PDF. Reporting Workbench also leverages Oracle EBS security.

Many of the issues that managers face with reporting tools are easily avoidable by combining Reporting Workbench with their existing Oracle E-Business Suite environment.

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