Last week, Oracle released version 12c of OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition). There are several features that are new to 12c, among which is the UI which has now been updated to become more modern compared to the prior 11g interface. The most interesting feature that has been added is the new Data Visualization capability, something that has been available on Oracle’s BI Cloud Service offering for quite some time but hasn’t made it to the on-prem product until now. I’ve been told you have to pay a special license fee to get that additional Data Visualization component if you are currently on OBIEE 11g and wish to upgrade to 12c (on production).
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The addition of the Data Visualization capability to OBIEE is significant, and here is why:
1. Ease of Use and Advanced Visualizations: OBIEE is not a new software. If you look at the history of the product, it has been on the market since the late 90s as a product developed by nQuire. Ever since it has been continuously evolving over the years. It was part of Siebel’s offering and called Siebel Analytics and later acquired by Oracle and named OBIEE. This proves how robust the foundation of this platform is to not only survive but continue to evolve and adjust to the latest trends in analytical technologies. For example, the foundation has been the basis for Oracle’s BI Cloud Service. (But this is not the point of my blog). With the new Data Visualization features, OBIEE is getting a boost when competing with products like Tableau’s and QlickView’s. The Data Visualization component is so easy to use yet offers rich and modern visualizations that can scale to plot large numbers of data points. For example, a business user can select a few columns to analyze and ask the tool to visualize the data in the best visualization that the tool finds suitable. Data can be quickly overlapped on a geographical map. The “brushing” feature makes it easier to discover trends in the data for example by selecting outliers in one visual and have the rest of the dashboard visuals narrowed down simultaneously. And all this is doable as self service by business users without the need to engage IT.
2. Data Upload and Mashup by Business Users: The Data Visualization component of OBIEE 12c is important not just because of its new visualizations and ease of use, but also because it now offers business users a way to upload their own data and report on it together with data from other users or even along with enterprise data. This is what is referred to as data mashup. You no longer need to involve IT in creating an ETL process to upload new data sets. Reporting requirements are continuously changing in organizations, and therefore having a way to explore and try things out on their own is a huge advantage to business users.
For example, an analyst at an insurance provider can go to the FEMA website to download disaster events data such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes and mash that data up against the company’s insurance policies. The uploaded FEMA data can then be overlapped on the same map that has corporate data. Or an analyst in the agriculture industry can download precipitation data from the National Weather Website to upload this via Oracle Data Visualization and mash it up against the company’s produce output to have a better understanding of the impact of precipitation on crops and field operations.
A complete list of the new features of OBIEE 12c is available by referring to Oracle Document 2070474.1.