HelpSystems Blog

Today’s Top IT Concerns for IBM i Data Access

Data access on IBM i can be frustrating. Traditional tools can’t scale. It’s difficult to meet user needs. And the results simply don’t translate well for users. As a result, many IT departments are left wondering…

Where is IBM i data access going? And how will we keep up?

Data access and business intelligence (BI) are increasingly top of mind for IT departments running IBM i. In fact, the HelpSystems 2017 IBM i Marketplace Survey found that current top concerns for IT environments include:

  • Analytics/business intelligence (25.7%)
  • Modernizing applications (49.5%)
  • Data growth (35.4%)
  • SQL database access (28.7%)
  • Mobile access (23.5%)

If these are concerns for your IT department, then it’s time to start strategizing. Consider this your plan of action for mastering IBM i data access and keeping up with BI for years to come.

Analytics & Business Intelligence: How Will You Keep Up with Data?

25.7 percent of IBM i Marketplace Survey respondents are concerned with analytics and business intelligence. And for good reason: accurate BI is growing in significance as more and more companies strive to make data-driven decisions.

For IBM i users, there two clear areas for concern for analytics and BI.

#1: IT Can’t Handle All the Data Requests

Users—from executives to business users—want data to inform their decisions. As a result, their requests for access to data can easily pile up. And it’s tremendously difficult for IT to keep up—particularly if you are using a traditional IBM i data access tool like Query/400.

Query/400 in particular is a source of concern for many IT departments running IBM i. While Query/400 is sufficient for basic reporting, it struggles to process large volumes of data. So, when your requests for data pile up, it’s impossible to get through them quickly.

#2: Users Can’t Understand the Data

Even when you deliver IBM i data to your users, they don’t always understand it. And that’s because a tool like Query/400 makes it difficult to deliver data that users can understand. Users clamor for business favorites like Microsoft Excel or visual representations of data that make the big picture clear.

As a result, users are frustrated. They may have the data, but they certainly don’t have the context to understand the information within it.

In order to meet user needs and alleviate their frustrations, it’s time to think about modernizing your query tool.

>> Takeaway: Consider upgrading from Query/400.

Modernizing Applications: What Does This Mean for BI?

49.5 percent of IBM i Marketplace Survey respondents are concerned with modernizing applications in their environment. And business intelligence applications are no exception.

#1: Modernize the Interface

Increasingly, the IBM i user community is interested in options beyond the green screen. Simply put, to today’s workforce, the green screen seems old, which makes IBM i data look dated. And that simply isn’t true.  

The IBM i is a great platform for data access. It’s reliable—IBM i data is accurate. It’s securable—IBM i protects your data. And it’s powerful—IBM i can handle a lot of data. All you need is the right tool to take your IBM i data beyond the limits of the green screen. Popular modern options typically include a graphical user interface (GUI) and a web interface.

#2: Modernize the Presentation of Data

Users at organizations operating on IBM i don’t want the raw data. They want data to be represented in modern, easy-to-interpret formats. They want their data visualized in dashboards.

Business intelligence dashboards are a natural choice for modernizing the presentation of data to your users. Traditional IBM i data access tools don’t include dashboards. That’s why it’s time to look for a modern data access tool with dashboard functionality. BI dashboards should be easy-to-build, add context to your data, and make data understandable.

>> Takeaway: Find out what you need to know to modernize BI.

Data Growth: How Will You Manage Your Growing Data?

35.4 percent of IBM i Marketplace Survey respondents are concerned about data growth. This is a growing concern for IT departments (last year, 33.8 percent of respondents were concerned). The reason is clear: companies will always have more data—they’ll never have less.

Many IT departments are frustrated. As data grows, it becomes more difficult to manage. A basic query tool alone cannot handle large amounts of data. Creating a plan for managing data growth thus depends on selecting a data access tool that can handle a large amount of data. Doing this will give you peace of mind and make data management much less stressful.

>> Takeaway: Learn more about big data on IBM i.

SQL Database Access: How Will You Connect to Your Essential Databases?

28.7 percent of IBM i Marketplace Survey respondents are concerned about access to SQL databases. As data grows across organizations worldwide, it’s increasingly common for data to be kept in multiple databases.

For IBM i users, this typically means that data is kept on IBM i, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and other databases. Of course, this can lead to frustrations among users. They might not know where certain data is kept. And databases might have to be accessed on an ad hoc basis, making it difficult to see one clear version of the truth.

Switching to a modern data access tool can simplify database management and assure easy access to SQL databases.

>> Takeaway: Look into remote database access.

Mobile Access: How Will You Serve Your Increasingly Mobile Users?

23.5 percent of IBM i Marketplace Survey respondents are concerned with mobile access. As today’s world goes mobile, users expect to have information at their fingertips—both metaphorically and literally.

#1: Self-Service Data Access

IBM i users are no exception to the trend toward self-service data access. Your users might be wondering, “If we can Google anything, why can’t we access key business information ourselves?”

IBM i users are increasingly looking for freedom from IT in getting the data they need. If you’re in the IT department, it’s natural that you’d be nervous about this—after all, isn’t there a risk in giving users access to data?

Self-service data access doesn’t need to be scary. In fact, self-service data access on an IBM i is the least scary of all—and that’s because the right data access tool relies on IBM i authority.

#2: Mobile Data Access

IBM i users—just like everyone else—want access to information on the go. That’s definitely not a possibility with Query/400 and other traditional IBM i data access tools.

That’s why modernizing BI means looking for a solution with mobile capabilities. A web interface is often a key component to a mobile solution, allowing a user to access data from any browser on any device.

>> Takeaway: Explore a mobile data access solution.

Now, do you know where IBM i data access is going and how you’ll keep up?

Take the Next Step to Modernizing BI

Say goodbye to your concerns about IBM i data access. Read 4 Things IT Managers Should Know About the Changing World of BI. You’ll learn everything you need to know to modernize applications and improve analytics and business intelligence across your organization.