April 10, 2013
If I want to build a data warehouse, do I go to Home Depot?
In a couple of weeks, ArcherPoint is co-hosting a Lunch & Learn webinar with one of our partners, BI4Dynamics, on Business Intelligence. As the guy in charge of the website, it’s my job to provide relevant content around the various events we host, so I went looking for a clear, succinct overview of the high points of BI—what businesses need to know to make a BI buying decision or perhaps just help them get more out of their BI solution. I discovered two things: First, a succinct overview proved very hard to come by, and second, I found I didn’t know as much about BI as I thought I did. There was a time when I thought, sure, I understand the need for business intelligence. It helps a company remain competitive, identify growth opportunities, and more. I’m also a programmer from way back and know how to write rather complex SQL queries, so I know how to get at whatever data is in the database. Why would I need a specialized “Business Intelligence” solution? It turns out that I did not understand the theory behind BI like I thought I did. But as I looked deeper into the concepts behind BI, I had my eyes opened. For starters, it takes a special kind of database, or “Data Warehouse”—and someone who understands it—to get the most for the BI buck. Second, you do NOT want to run analytics against your production database (unless you want to seriously degrade its performance). The production database is optimized for processing transactions, while a data warehouse is optimized for performing analytics. I now know what an OLAP Cube is and why it is so important to any BI solution. Because I think that others, like me, might be (how should I say this?) not completely clear on the fundamental concepts of Business Intelligence, I wanted to take this opportunity to share what I learned in an article now available on our website. Originally, I was going to call it “BI for Dummies”, but I figured that might not go over too well (not to mention copyright issues). I then leaned toward “BI for Bob” (to the other Bobs out there, no offense…I am speaking of yours truly). I finally settled on the more descriptive and less pejorative, An Introduction to Business Intelligence Concepts. This article is in no way a comprehensive, everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-BI artlce; I’ll leave that to the experts. However, if you are considering a BI solution, or if you want to understand the theory behind what you already have to make it even more powerful, consider this article to be a “quick reference” guide to the big BI concepts and their relevance. It’s a good place to start. I hope you find this document useful, and please join us for our Lunch & Learn on April 23.
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