apex business intelligence

In the light of ever increasing need for information, the Business Intelligence (BI) systems have thrived in recent years.  The concept behind the BI systems involves providing one or more of the following:

  • Integration of multiple data sources to create “one-stop-shopping” for information.
  • Generate data that allows multi level drill-downs. (data cubes)
  • Dashboards to allow individual users easier access and visibility of the information.
  • Analytical tools to allow multi-dimensional access and drill down of the data.


Fact 1 as stated bellow, provides even more justifications for such systems:



Source: IDC (www.idc.com)

  • 94% of large organizations use spreadsheets to develop enterprise reports (followed by other custom build, BOBJ, ORCL)
  • 30% use spreadsheets as primary reporting software
  • Average large company has 8 different reporting software tools
  • 30% plan to consolidate to a single corp. standard (70% don’t!)
  • There isn’t a lot of shelf ware (15%)
  • 45% of report development done by business users
  • 37% of reporting software deployed as stand-alone application (other within portals or other apps)
  • Only 14% of managers say they are very confident that the reports developed in their organization deliver the right data to the right people at the right time

However, in many cases, the BI systems have fallen short of their promises, mostly because:

  • The process of data integration and creation of cubes is very complex.  The integrated database (datamart) becomes another source of complexity and potential problems. In majority of BI implementations, data correction becomes an on-going process long after the project is finished.
  • The problems mentioned in the previous point have caused a lot of such BI systems to be generally ignored after their implementation and left unused.
  • The BI implementation process is very costly.
  • End users need training in order to use these systems.


According to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, just 4 percent of respondents say they are "very satisfied" with data integration and analysis at their companies.

Source: EContentMag.com

Execs Report Problems with Business Intelligence

While executives widely acknowledge the value of business intelligence, many of them report problems with inconsistent or poor quality data and an ad hoc approach to installing BI systems. According to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, just 4 percent of respondents say they are "very satisfied" with data integration and analysis at their companies. Eighty percent say that their organization's performance would improve if BI data were disseminated to employees other than senior and middle managers, and 40 percent report their workers often make poor decisions because of inadequate data. Other problems spotlighted in the survey: BI tools confined to individual departments or groups, too many BI platforms and incompatible systems.


Source: www.cbronline.com

A recent National Computing Centre survey that found that 87% of business intelligence projects in the UK do not live up to expectations, might raise a few eyebrows among BI technology vendors. The survey showed that nearly a quarter of BI projects intended to improve management decision making are going over budget. A fifth found that data failed to reveal important information, and only half said that end-users were satisfied with the system.

The hit-and-miss return on investment is in stark contrast to the purported business benefits that BI and analytic technologies are supposed to offer. So what are companies doing wrong?

Quinn highlights common mistakes such as assuming the average business user has the know-how or the time to use BI tools

Quite a lot, according to Kevin Quinn, vice-president of product marketing at Information Builders, who has just finished a white-paper entitled 'Worst Practices of BI'. In it, Quinn highlights common mistakes such as assuming the average business user has the know-how or the time to use BI tools; assuming a data warehouse will solve all information access and delivery requirements - the classic 'build it and they will come' misconception; and selecting BI tools appropriate for a specific business need.

The APEX advantage

The BI approach, although conceptually powerful, falls short of expectations in real life as stated by the above facts.  This is mostly because the BI scope always grows continuously and the complexities rise to the point that the original needs become obscured.

Apex uses a different approach:  “Leave the data as it is and just extract what is needed to fulfill a particular information need”.  The advantages are:

  • No need for data integration and the added complexities involved
  • Quick and low cost implementations
  • Quick turnarounds for report creation and modifications
  • Company-wide awareness by broadcasting information via live Channels, automated emails, etc.
  • No end user training





Information Management

Purpose specific data is taken from the source. Minimum processing is needed in APEX

Highly granular data is taken from the source.  Requires further processing in BI to create drill-down capabilities

Drill Downs

Not available


End User Efforts

None.  Automatic delivery of the right information to the right user

The user needs to use the analytics and drill downs to get the desired information

End User training

None required



Higher Awareness due to constant broadcasts and automated delivery systems

Low awareness due to information available to trained users or users with dashboard systems installed


Low cost

High cost


Quick and low cost

Lengthy and high cost

Changes to management initiatives

Quick and easy

Often requires major changes to the structure of the data BI data structure and cubes



































































































diagram 1

Diagram 1: APEX vs. BI (end user awareness and required skills)


diagram 2

Diagram 2: APEX vs. BI (Cost and Implementation time)