A complete business intelligence solution like BIO business intelligence from BIO Analytics Corp. comprises not only a dazzling visualization tool, but also contains a powerful back end that includes a data warehouse. Why include a data warehouse? Doesn’t that just create a lot of work and slow everything down? Isn’t better to go right against the source database and get real-time data? Actually, the benefits of using a data warehouse can far outweigh the effort required to implement one.
First, a data warehouse enables you to consolidate data from multiple sources, allowing you to compare, for example, financial and operational data, providing insight that would be difficult at best to obtain without consolidated data. Copying data from source databases into Excel is messy and error-prone and takes a lot of time. But loading the data into a data warehouse is easy. Once the connector to the database is written and implemented, the process to extract, transform, and load (ETL) the data is either entirely automated or can be done in one click. Of course, you can always use Inner Joins and Outer Joins and the like to create reports in SQL, but that assumes that either you know SQL or have an IT person available when you need your analysis.
Using a data warehouse ensures the data you use from multiple data sources is compatible and consistent. You’re not working with one set of data that is rounded to the thousands and one set that is not. You know that whenever you want a cost per unit, it is calculated the same way. You know that when you are pulling monthly data, you are not getting one set that goes from the first day of the month to the last day and one set that is ending with today’s date. The hierarchies and account coding are the same and the formulas are the same.
Data in a data warehouse is generally “cleaner” than data in source databases due to data validations exercised during the ETL process. Plus, once the data is in the data warehouse, if you’re using BIO business intelligence, you can set up routine analyses to check the health of the data, looking for anomalies, range variations, and unusual trends that you can look at further to ensure the data is correct.
Once your data is in a data warehouse, reporting and analysis is easier—not only is BIO architected for faster analysis, the user interface is easier than non-BI or reporting tools. Plus, by reporting against the data warehouse, the source data is protected from unintentional errors made when programming reports or just noodling around in the data. And reporting is faster and does not affect performance on your source system. It is certainly easier for your staff to learn reporting and analysis on one intuitive system than on several different systems, or worse, using SQL and if your source databases are no longer supporting people who access them just for reporting and analysis, they will be more secure. And finally, with a data warehouse, your data can be as current as you wish. Some organizations refresh their data daily, some refresh 3 and 4 times per day. The rate at which you refresh is totally up to you.
Sometimes when you are using just one, fairly simple database it makes sense to go directly against the source data. BIO allows you to do that as well.
To learn more about BIO, join us for a free business intelligence webinar. And please contact me at 203.705.4648 or by email at email@example.com if you have any questions about BIO or business intelligence in general.
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By Sandi Richards Forman of BIO Analytics Corp., Microsoft Dynamics Business Intelligence (BI) Solution Provider