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DATA WAREHOUSING: A SHORT OVERVIEW

Anne Marie Smith
asmith@manieri.com

Many corporations are experiencing significant business benefits using data warehouse technology. Users report gains in market competitiveness (increased revenue) and information management (reduced costs). • • • • Data: observable, recordable facts. Information: an organized collection of facts in a meaningful context; data given relevance and purpose. Operational system: an environment of data and programs used to support the continuing activities of an organization. Informational Data Warehouse: a collection of data and programs used to support analysis and decision-making needs, separate from the operational systems.

A data warehouse is a separate architecture used to maintain critical historical data that has been extracted from operational data storage and transformed into formats understandable to the organization’s analytical community. Data integrity is a major issue within most organizations, and the development of a data warehouse is frequently used as a vehicle to improve data quality significantly. Accuracy in data can mean realized savings of thousands of dollars in areas such as marketing, customer service, and finance. Many studies by organizations such as Gartner Group and Innovative Systems point to the savings obtained from a 4% increase in the integrity of data in many diverse companies. Some of the benefits of the development of a data warehouse include: more accurate predictions of customer demand based on the use of trends analysis the response improvement in direct-marketing campaigns through the use of household demographics and current customer analysis the improvement in vendor relations and price reductions by targeting selected vendors with increased levels of purchasing over the enterprise significant savings from improved data quality across the enterprise Costs associated with the development of a data warehouse can be identified to include: • Hardware • Staff • Relational Database Management Systems • Data Warehouse Administration software • Repository and Information Directory software • Decision Support and Analysis software • Middleware (interfaces)

A data warehouse architecture will provide many lasting benefits to many companies. that is. A data warehouse serves as the focus for analytical and decision making querying and reporting.A data warehouse provides the foundation for information processing by creating an integrated database of critical. that is. and asset and risk management. marketing. one for operations and another for analysis. a company can tailor each environment to meet the specific needs. subject-oriented. The most common application areas so far are sales. The need for better quality information that can be more easily accessed and analyzed is a primary focus of the data warehousing efforts at many companies. edited and cleansed to permit compatible results from analysis. Operational transactions place a fairly consistent burden on computing resources. Analysis and decision making can mean executive information systems (EIS) with highly summarized data structures. each subject area is built as a separate project. tend to be unpredictable. actuarial and statistical analysis. managerial analysis summarizing departments or product lines. Competitive advantage. improved knowledge of relationships among products and services and their performances. product usage and billing. The data in the data warehouse has been integrated. metadata management and data warehouse design and development. Analysis and decision making usually requires the integration of data from across multiple subject areas and systems. with alternating periods of intense activity and minimal use. analytical and decision making gains can all be realized by integrating a data warehouse into your information environment. It may also require the inclusion of data from sources outside the company’s applications. The data is also historical. data modeling. workstation analysis with more detail than in managerial analysis but still aggregated for trend and other types of analysis. such as customers. By providing two distinct environments. customer information. however. Data warehouses are built iteratively. Another reason for developing a data warehouse is the need to empower users by providing access to data scattered over many disparate systems. thus saving IS staff time and improving user and systems productivity. Anne Marie Smith is an Information Management professional with over 15 years experience in data analysis. The extremely poor performance of project plans that called for a massive single development of all subject areas strongly suggests that the iterative approach be used. Querying functions. Performance issues are also different between operational systems and analytical systems. This data has been reformatted. procurement. . where all the data needed for an application is collected and used within that application. such as demographic data. enabling analysis over time to detect trends and variations in data patterns. such as customer data. finance. historical data for analysis. This is very different from operational systems. data from various operational systems has been combined to form a consistent view of a subject.