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OEM Reporting

Rich Internet Applications Without Limits


TM
Solutions

Enabling Business End-Users to Interact with


Existing Reports or Build Their Own New Reports
Software application providers face a balancing act. On the one hand they need
to empower their business end-users to make informed business decisions
with timely, role-specific data. To achieve this objective, business users need to
interact with and modify reports as the business environment changes.

On the other hand, application providers and IT groups need to create a


development model that can scale across an organization. The OEM professional
service organizations and IT development staffs need to ensure that the reporting
solution is simple to maintain and deploy in order to control costs. And the
development process must be collaborative and flexible to extend the report
lifespan and avoid obsolescence.

This white paper explains how the Actuate platform enables IT, business users
and consumers to work together to continuously evolve reports by sharing
report designs and engaging in iterative report development, as well as how
to empower users to easily create and modify their own interactive reports.
By creating highly usable and scalable reports, OEMs can drive the market’s
adoption of their application, while reducing the burden on IT staff and OEM
professional service organizations.
Enabling Business End-Users to Interact with Existing Reports or Build Their Own New Reports

The Evolution of a Report reports in a format that meets their needs. Without
the right reports, business users can not make good
While an end-user’s request for a new report starts business decisions in a timely manner. The traditional
as a simple process, it often evolves in to a complex, development cycle results in conflict between the IT
frustrating cycle for both the business users and the staff and business users.
IT staff. The initial report request is often straight-
Another model is the business group silo model,
forward, such as a customer list. However, the end-
where the business groups create their own data
user soon needs additional requirements and data
silo for reporting purposes. The business user can
views, increasing the complexity of this initial request.
use the reports against this data silo and get reports
As other users and managers hear about the report, on-demand. However, this silo model presents two
they make additional requests and modifications. problems. First, the reporting solution is complex,
The complexity tends to grow with each new often with a 700-page manual, and requires time
requirement. The report is then put in to circulation and energy to build and modify the reports. Second,
for review, bringing about additional change requests the business group’s data silo is separate from the IT
and modifications. corporate data silo and is often out-of-date. These
data silos prevent collaboration while the parallel
Because of the constant change requests, reviews and
efforts waste time and money.
modifications, the report is often obsolete before it is
released. As a result, the report lifespan is very short The OEM is often caught in a similar struggle. By the
and the frustration level and costs can be high. time they put out a new release of their application
with canned reports, the reports are often obsolete.
The Limitations of The OEM’s professional services organization ends up
creating new reports for their customers instead of
Traditional Reporting adding value to their core application.
Approaches These struggles run up development costs, wasting
How can report developers and OEMs increase the time and money within the organization. Report
lifecycle of a report? Flexibility is the key ingredient deployments stall and become expensive while
to increase report longevity and avoid obsolescence. iteration and change are discouraged to control costs.
By providing flexibility, business end-users can modify
the report once it as been released or create a new The Requirements of End-
report as needed without assistance from IT.
User and Self-Service
Traditional report environments do not offer the
flexibility necessary to increase the lifespan of a
Reporting
report. A traditional model includes a staff of report Because the business market is constantly evolving,
developers that create reports and put them in the needs of the business user also change. In
to circulation through a server deployment. The addition, business users have a wide range of
end-users are just consumers in this scenario, with sophistication and needs. Some users just want a
no ability to change the layout, order or other finished report to simply view data, with some ability
parameters. Whenever the end-user wants a change to personalize or modify the content. On the other
to a report, they have to submit a change request to hand, more sophisticated business users want to
the IT group. create their own report from scratch.

In the traditional report development environment, Reports need to adapt to meet the personal skill
there are often conflicts between the IT staff and levels and requirements within an organization. The
the end-users. IT finds it hard to keep up with the reporting requirements are shaped by a user’s roles
constant change requests that pull them away from and responsibilities.
more strategic initiatives and projects. The business
users become frustrated because they do not get 2
Enabling Business End-Users to Interact with Existing Reports or Build Their Own New Reports

The ideal self-service environment to meet these Users can ask questions of a report and get answers,
needs will be one that is easy to use, fosters changing the way data is grouped or displayed.
collaboration and is easy to deploy and manage.
The Interactive Viewer also provides comprehensive
From an ease-of-use perspective, the reporting
security and access control. In addition, the Viewer
solution should leverage a user’s knowledge of
provides a simple but powerful collaborative solution
common tools, such as MS Office and the Internet.
that enables users to share reports and create and
The solution should also foster collaboration between save personalized designs. The regrouping is done
IT and business users, or OEMs and the application within the report without going back to the data
end-users. By empowering all the constituents source. The Interactive Viewer environment drives ROI
with the right tools, the reporting solution by providing faster access to data for better decision
should eliminate data silos and harness collective making - without having to rely on IT.
intelligence.
The self-service environment needs to be easy to Using BusinessReports:
deploy and manage, using a web-centric deployment Web-based Report
while maintaining security and centralizing control.
Authoring by Users
Using BIRT to Empower Actuate’s BIRT Report Studio is a web-based BIRT

End-Users report designer that empowers business users to


create their own reports from scratch. The BIRT
The BIRT solution meets the fundamental Report Studio is 100% web-based and uses AJAX to
requirements of a self-service environment. The deliver a rich development experience.
platform is comprised of three core components: The solution is designed for business users – not high-
Interactive Viewer, BIRT Report Studio and an SDK. tech report developers – that have knowledge of their
The Interactive Viewer is a web-based report business and processes. The typical user of the BIRT
exploration and personalization tool for business Report Studio is a business manager or user in a sales,
users that enables report interactivity and analysis. finance, marketing, HR, manufacturing or operational
The report personalization extends the report lifespan role that needs access to high-quality information to
by allowing end-users to make simple modifications make decisions.
and personalize reports in a controlled environment.

IT Report Developers Casual Users

Actuate Actuate iServer Personalize


BIRT Report Test
ID# Date Tester Description OS

Designer
1 11/05/03 LLennon Retail sales information Win 2000
2 11/05/03 LLennon Hospital admissions info Win 2000
3 11/05/03 LLennon Gamble SAP extraction Win 2000
4 11/10/03 LLennon Sales 10D 5M 10K Win 2000
5 06/03/03 MDavies Sales 10D 5M 10K Win 2000
6 11/10/03 LLennon Sales 10D 5M 100K Win 2000
7 06/03/03 MDavies Sales 10D 5M 100K Win 2000

Actuate
90
80
70
60
50 East

Interactive
40 West
30 North
20
10
0
1st Qtr 2nd Qtr 3rd Qtr 4th Qtr

Actuate Viewer Analyze


BIRT Report
Studio
Export/Print
Create report Deploy report objects
and definitions

Business and Power Users

Using the BIRT environment, IT Report Developers create information objects and report templates that are leveraged by power users to create
their own reports. Casual users can personalize and interact with these reports through the Actuate Interactive Viewer. 3
Enabling Business End-Users to Interact with Existing Reports or Build Their Own New Reports

They need operational status reporting, including


what-if analyses. The business user is typically not
About Actuate
SQL savvy and finds OLAP too complex, but is familiar
with web applications and Microsoft Office tools. The Actuate has partnered with over 400 OEM partners to
BIRT Report Studio offers a business report design deliver the following results:
interface that is familiar to business users.
• Reduce Time-to-Market
BIRT Report Studio leverages report templates, • Deploy robust, interactive reporting functionality
typically created by an IT or OEM developer, to • Drive sales and adoption of OEM applications
enable business users to create their own reports. • Create new revenue opportunities
This template expedites the creation of reports
by providing logos, layouts and other standard Actuate Corporation is dedicated to increasing the
formatting. The IT or OEM application group will also richness, interactivity and effectiveness of enterprise
deploy information or data objects. These objects data, for everyone, everywhere. Actuate delivers the
include a metadata layer that makes it easier for the next generation RIA-ready information platform for
business users to understand what data to use in the both customer and employee-facing applications.
report. IT still maintains control over report standards The Actuate platform boasts unmatched scalability,
and the data, but enables the business user to create high-performance, reliability and security. Its proven
their own report as needed. RIA capabilities and highly collaborative development
architecture are backed by the world’s largest open
The BIRT SDK source information application developer community,
grounded in BIRT, the Eclipse Foundation’s only top
OEMs that want a more customized, seamlessly
level Business Intelligence and reporting project.
integrated reporting solution as part of their
application may utilize the SDK that is included Global 9000 organizations use Actuate to roll out
and documented as part of BIRT. The SDK would RIA-enabled customer loyalty and Performance
help an OEM that wants to create a very controlled Management applications that improve customer
navigation path for business users to create reports, satisfaction and employee productivity. The company
such as a wizard-based interface. The SDK includes has over 4,200 customers globally in a diverse range
a comprehensive designer API to create BIRT report of business areas including financial services and the
designs programmatically. public sector, many of which have a long history of
deploying Actuate-based solutions for dozens, or
In summary, the BIRT platform offers a way to
even hundreds of their mission-critical applications.
empower business users with critical, business-
Founded in 1993, Actuate has headquarters in San
focused information while off-loading OEM
Mateo, California, with offices worldwide. Actuate is
professional services and IT development staff. The
listed on NASDAQ under the symbol ACTU. For more
Interactive Viewer, BIRT Report Studio and SDK
information on Actuate, visit the company’s web site
enable business users to change an existing report or
at www.actuate.com.
create a new report without relying on development
resources. And the tools are designed specifically for
the needs of the user, driving application adoption
while controlling IT and professional service costs.

Actuate Corporation Tel: (888) 422-8828


2207 Bridgepointe Parkway Web: http://www.actuate.com
Suite 500 4
San Mateo, CA 94404