The marketing department in your company has been concerned about the performance of the West Coast Region and the sales numbers from the monthly report this month are drastically low. The marketing Vice President is agitated and wants to get some reports from the IT department to analyze the performance over the past two years, product by product, and compared to monthly targets. He wants to make quick strategic decisions to rectify the situation. The CIO wants your boss to deliver the reports as soon as possible. Your boss runs to you and asks you to stop everything and work on the reports. There are no regular reports from any system to give the marketing department what they want. You have to gather the data from multiple applications and start from scratch. Does this sound familiar?

At one time or another in your career in information technology, you must have been exposed to situations like this. Sometimes, you may be able to get the information required for such ad hoc reports from the databases or files of one application. Usually this is not so. You may have to go to several applications, perhaps running on different platforms in your company environment, to get the information. What happens next? The marketing department likes the ad hoc reports you have produced. But now they would like reports in a different form, containing more information that they did not think of originally. After the second round, they find that ...

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