The transformation of data into information should be seen as a continuum, from static reporting (which still has its place in most businesses), dashboards (mainstay in managing repeatable operations), to more sophisticated self-service analytics tools that answer forward-looking questions.
Timely and accurate data has always been critical to financial operations such as trading, lending, hedging, and disclosure. Over time, the types of questions business users have come to ask of data have changed, and business software has evolved accordingly. Timely insights are now critical to a sustainable competitive advantage.
The first generation of data queries sought to gain an accurate picture of the business, mostly from a historical perspective – “…which region performed best in Q4?”, or “…what was the revenue from credit cards, for each month in the preceding 12 months”. Accurate source systems and robust databases capable of returning results fast was the need of the hour. The software industry responded and we saw a boom, from about 1980 to 1998, in enterprise databases and reporting systems.