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Smart report bursting with triggers and repeaters

As described in my previous blog post, bursting static analytic reports to recipients is still a very common “real-world” requirement—and it’s still a headache for many BI developers and organizations. Often referred to as ‘Enterprise Reporting’—the process of publishing the same template of content with specific “slices” of the underlying data—report bursting is not a new concept.

Complicating things, organizations typically need reporting capabilities that go further than the straightforward production of pixel-perfect analytical data in static file formats. At its core, the key challenge is how to modulate content dynamically according to the data or to the recipients—and usually both.

Pyramid’s Publish module is designed to deliver these advanced and sophisticated features, while still making them accessible to business users, in a self-service framework that does not ordinarily require the input of developers.

In this blog we will cover “triggers” and “repeaters”—two tools that bring this sophistication to enterprise reporting functionality in Pyramid. Another aspect of dynamic content creation relates to adjusting the text and messages in the content based on the data. In combination with each other, Pyramid’s advanced functionality of selectively expanding and limiting content at will elevates the offering to “Smart Report Bursting.”

The problem

Companies struggle to create customized content for different users using specific slices of underlying data. For example, product managers might want to repeat a page detailing product sales and status for each product that they manage, where each manager has a different number of products to manage. Further, the messaging written to each page for each product may change based on status or the number of units sold.

Most BI tools exclude enterprise reporting in general. For those that don’t, these types of capabilities are often missing or extremely complicated to access and use. Often, companies requiring more advanced replication and distribution features are forced to use a separate solution for enterprise reporting to close the gap.

Pyramid’s solution

Pyramid’s Publish module has three mechanisms to modulate published content: “repeaters,” which generate more pages of analysis based on data; “triggers,” which condition content generation based on data; and “Dynamic text,” which generates conditional and dynamic text and graphics based on data.

  • “Repeaters”—or accelerator functionality—allow repetition of a page many times. For example, an investment customer wants to see stock performance metrics on a page, repeated for each stock that he holds. The page will thus need to repeat a different number of times for each customer.
  • Conversely, “triggers”—or braking functionality—limit the number of times the page is repeated. For example, where there are too many different stocks to report and an analyst only wants to display stocks that have increased or decreased by more than five percent.
  • Finally, “dynamic text” generates different text messages or values in the copy of the report.

By combining conditional page repeaters and triggers with report bursting, distribution, and dynamic text content, users have total control over how to craft highly specific content for specific users in an automated and highly efficient manner.

Business case

Shane is a BI analyst for E&G Retailers. E&G uses Pyramid to analyze their data stored in SAP BW.

In some of the branches, they have been selling products at prices “too good to be true,” where the aggregated net margin for the product category falls below the target of 20 percent. Shane creates a branch net margin report that displays all product categories for branches where the net margin for the branch is less than 20 percent. Shane is not interested in branches where the revenue is less than $100k. In addition, on subsequent pages, Shane wants to see the product details for all sub-product categories where the revenue is greater than $10k, displaying the details for each sub-category on a separate page.

Shane creates a page condition where the revenue is greater than $100k.

 

Next, he creates an additional condition where the net margin is less than 20 percent, grouping the conditions in an “and” function.

 

Shane then sets the page repeater for the product details page to repeat for each sub-product category.

 

And Shane now sets the page trigger to ensure that the page is only repeated when the sub-category revenue is greater than $10k.

 

When the report is scheduled and run, the report is only produced for nine branches that meet all the criteria. (Kansas, Arizona, and Colorado are examples of those branches.)

 

 

The number of pages printed will vary from branch to branch, depending on how many product sub-categories had revenue greater than $10k. Arizona has only three sub-categories meeting the criteria, so its report (including the header page) is four pages, whereas other branch reports might vary in length between two and eight pages, depending on their individual sub-category performance.

 

And finally, Shane schedules the report on a weekly basis and distributes it to the branches using the branch addresses maintained in a CSV file, driven by the State slicer in the data model.

 

Summary

Report bursting is a key feature of enterprise reporting that is ignored or sorely neglected by many BI tools. More advanced features of enterprise reporting allow expanded control over the dynamic publishing of the same template with specific slices of data for disparate users. The lack of features often drives companies to procure a separate solution for enterprise reporting—making the implementation of enterprise-wide analytics even more challenging, complicated, and far more costly.

Apart from the dynamic text capabilities, Pyramid’s Publish module provides page “repeaters” and “triggers;” mechanisms to both repeat and limit the number of pages repeated. By combining page repeaters and triggers with report bursting, distribution, and dynamic text content in a self-service framework that is accessible to business users, Pyramid’s advanced functionality achieves report bursting par excellence.

Additional Resources

  • Delivering impact: Report bursting and distribution with Pyramid Blog
  • Page Repeater Help Guide
  • Triggers Help Guide
  • Dynamic Publication Distribution Video

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