Since managers see their firms as multidimensional entities (e.g., in terms of sales, expenses and profitability, by: product, region, channel, and time period, and on a budget vs. actual basis; see Figure 1 below), it is only logical that the OLAP or On- Line Analytical Processing software tools that are being increasingly deployed for organizing, analyzing, navigating through and visualizing the information needed by managers, should be seen as far more useful and meaningful than the conventionally used 2-D spreadsheets. Typically, OLAP tools allow users to interactively and more flexibly roll-up and drill-down (increase or decrease, respectively, the granularity or level of aggregation), slice-and-dice (select and project) and pivot or rotate (reorient a view of) multi-dimensional data. Additionally, customizable 2D- and 3D-graphics can be used to interactively improve the presentation of information, and accountants, for instance, can better monitor, control and correct account balances, etc., by multi-stage drill-down to the transaction level. Yet, if one goes beyond structural and procedural issues, and more deeply into how the real information needs of the manager or decision maker, could possibly be addressed with such tools, a number of questions still remain.
Kini, Ramesh, "On-Line Analytical Processing and the Time Dimension" (1998). AMCIS 1998 Proceedings. 11.