Data maintenance screens are very stable; relatively few post-implementation changes of significance are required. Every day, however, users of information systems request additions or changes to both formal and ad hoc reports. It is not unusual for a moderately complex system to have several hundred reports (Nash, 1994, p. 61).
Many organizations' reporting tools require significant programming expertise, which usually prevents a knowledge worker from working directly with information systems databases. The need for unencumbered access to information has made end-user reporting a key issue for the information system industry. In order to give knowledge workers flexible, responsive access to information system databases, software vendors have developed four broad categories of products: programmers' report-writing tools, database connect tools, business views, and natural language.
The concept of the data warehouse has recently gained considerable attention as it is a way to organize data which gives access to data to various databases, but which is not a database management system itself (Loeffen, 1995, p. 16). Data warehousing is particularly popular in environments which have complex data requirements and a broad spectrum of data types contained in its database. The goal of data warehousing is to take full advantage of the power of hardware to contain large quantities of data and use the databases to manipulate that data. Although not yet implemented across all computing environments, data warehousing is becoming popular as hardware becomes more powerful and cost effective.
Relational databases, which have dominated database management systems for the past decade, are facing challenges from object-oriented databases (North, 1995, p. 209). These new databases enable users to access vastly different types of data and do so in a way which is efficient and which increases productivity. In this way, types of information (suc...
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