Last week I ran my first customer facing demonstration of Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition. The demonstration had several objectives
- It allowed me to get hands-on experience of setting up a BI suite system
- It allowed me to demonstrate how much web-based BI reporting tools had improved since our customer first moved into web based BI
- It allowed me to practice presentation skills!
Perhaps bravely (and we’ve all seen vendor demonstrations that falter because of some technical glitch) I decided to build my customer specific demonstration using their live data warehouse. This was for three reasons:
- I knew the DW design (I designed it a couple of years back)
- It allowed me to assess how easy it would be to use the tool in a real development
- The customer already had a feel for query performance using their current tool set
Thankfully, my laptop based demonstration fired up and connected first time to the customer’s production DW instance.
The actual demonstration concentrated on the Answers and Dashboard components. I decided to start with an empty dashboard and go straight into Answers as I could demonstrate building a dashboard report from there and then deploy it to the dashboard. The first thing we went through was drilldown on the various dimensions. I also used this part of the demonstration to show the use of calculated attribute columns created within the tool. This gave a feel for the UI and showed off how slickly reports could be redefined using drag and drop.
Then came the real reporting: ‘Total company sales for yesterday’ was a simple matter of picking the date from calendar object and filtering on ‘CURRENT_DATE-1’ then clicking on the sales value measure. Click on display results and there is the total sales (and as query rewrite is enabled, pretty quickly too). Export as HTML, PDF and XLS to show the versatility of output then back to the criteria tab to add in the product type dimension, click redisplay and yesterday’s sales are broken down by product type. Save the report and added it to the dashboard. Back to Answers and redisplay the results as graph. Finally add in the store dimension, show the results and convert to a crosstab report.
Back to the criteria tab and add some time-based measures (sales equivalent day last year and sales YTD) and then stun the customer with the reporting speed. Shut down the browser and restart it. Now the Dashboard shows up and is quickly populated with the latest sales figures. Click on the product type column and prove that users without access to Answers still can drilldown on dimensions.The final part of the demonstration was the use of the Administration Tool to build custom measures and to define drill-paths.
All in all, an enjoyable couple of hours.