Data Warehousing - What is it?

The concept of data warehousing is a frequently misunderstood concept. It is methodology not a technology. At IDS we have chosen the following statement to embody our belief in what data warehousing is: Data warehousing is the process of collecting all available data feeds into a central location and making this information meaningful, relevant, actionable and available to the right people at the right time so that they spend less time searching for knowledge and more time making better decisions.

To quote one of our clients "Our warehouse must provide data that is:

 

  • fast, accurate and up to date 
  • show the profitability of every part of the business for shareholders and clients 
  • integrate seamlessly with legacy and changing systems 
  • provide a single repository of data 
  • function as the major CRM tool" 

 

In today's competitive world knowledge is what separates successful companies from the also-ran's. Data warehousing is a methodology that builds knowledge from data that is stored, untapped in a variety of enterprise storage media and systems. Information from spreadsheets, databases, accounting systems, inventory management systems, call centers and any other operational system that is used in recording the day to day transactions of an enterprise are copied to a central location and relationships between the different data feeds are established. This information once checked is given added value by summarizing it according a set of business rules and with reference to the metadata (data about data).

 

The summarized information which has now become knowledge is then made available to the end user by the most appropriate of delivery mechanism. This can be a spreadsheet, a web page or a dedicated warehouse browsing and analysis tool such as Excel Pivot tables, Cognos, Business Objects, Naxian etc.

The figure below illustrates the conversion of data to knowledge.  Knowledge is information that has the potential to lead to action. e.g. Ad. spend on widgets was 50% lower this year than in any of the previous 3 years and other product lines which have experienced reduced ad spend have usually experienced reduced sales. Increasing ad. spend has usually correlated with increased sales volumes.

 

Information is a data endowed with meaning.
e.g. Widget sales decreased by 32% this year.

 

Data is a collection of measurements.
e.g. This year we sold 28 million widgets.

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