What is Semantic Layer?

A semantic layer acts as an intermediary between the business user and corporate data. Data is represented as objects named as common business terms for business users to navigate. This allows business users to work with corporate data without needing to know all the finer technical details. Many reporting tools use a semantic layer to allow business users to create their own ad hoc reports.

How is a semantic layer used?

When discussing reporting tools, semantic layers are used for business users to generate ad hoc reports against. Semantic layers display an organization of meaningful business objects for users to navigate, select, and generate ad hoc reports. They are often listed in a folder structure and modern reporting tools enable business users to simply drag and drop these business objects into chart components to enable visualizations.

How is the semantic layer created?

Semantic layers are usually created by IT staff or analysts that are aware of both the structure of your data sources and the reporting needs of their organization. They are created by navigating your data and selecting what fields are exposed and attaching a meaningful business name to display for business users. Semantic layers do not need to adhere to the structure of your corporate data; they are used to display the most pertinent information for the business user.

Benefits of a semantic layer

  • Create a culture of ad hoc reporting. Not all dashboards and reports need strict requirements or formatting from IT, ad hoc reporting enables users to create reports on demand to answer their business questions.
  • Promotes data productivity, accuracy, and consistency for reporting. Users all can ensure they are on the same page when they create their own reports. There is no need to worry about the underlying data reports are generated against thus allowing for best accuracy and promotion of collaboration on consistent data use.
  • Remove the dependency between queries and your data source. Queries built within a semantic layer can be configured and reconfigured. This allows you to make changes to business objects and all reports will reflect that in the event of database changes. No longer do you need to modify any query languages within each report.

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