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The primary purpose of an information system is to process information to produce reports to facilitate decision making.

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The primary purpose of an information system is to process information to produce reports to facilitate decision making.  Reports may appear in various formats and are used to support a diverse range of organizational decisions.  Reports provide a mechanism for organizing, analyzing, presenting and delivering information to end users.  A common classification of reports is based on the types of systems which they are built from.  On-Line Transaction Processing (OLTP) systems as the name suggests are optimized for transaction processing.  They process real time information and are accessed by many users.  The reports are derived from the various business transactions and predominately support tactical decision making.

 

An alternative information system is On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP).  This type of processing allows users to analyze information by creating multidimensional reports.  They deal with large volumes of aggregated historical data.  OLAP based reports are more flexible than the more traditional reports produced by an OLTP system. 

 

As mentioned previously OLTP reports provide information about particular transactions.  The type of reports an OLTP system produces could include:

 

Who purchased a particular product?

How much did an employee get paid?

How many of a product was manufactured?

 

The flexibility of OLAP reporting assists end users in understanding why particular business events have occurred and or in forecasting what may occur in the future.  The types of questions an OLAP system can assist with could include:

 

What are the total sales for each product? 

What are the total sales for each department?

Which salesperson has sold the most?

Which products does each salesperson sell the most of?

In which month did most of the sales occur?

 

OLAP systems and their ability for multi-dimensional reporting are considered an important component of Business Intelligence.  OLTP systems often provide the transactional data which is used as an input for OLAP system’s multi-dimensional reports.

 

To gain a better understanding of multi-dimensional reporting and related concepts we will complete some exercises below using Microsoft Excel’s PivotTable.

 

 

Pivot Tables 

An example of a multidimensional reporting tool is Microsoft Excel’s PivotTable function.  A PivotTable is a tool which assists users with summarising large amounts of data into useful reports.  The PivotTable’s flexibility enables you to re-arrange the table’s structure (columns and rows) until you get the required information.  The following exercises will highlight the role of PivotTables in multi-dimensional reporting

1. Save Download Tut_PivotTable.xlsx from the class website.  

2. Open the Tut_PivotTable.xlsx worksheet.

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