Are we getting the most out of our data warehouse?

If you’ve ever asked yourself that question as an executive, IT manager, or business owner, you’re not alone. We know there are many Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence (DW/BI) solutions that have fallen short of their desired mark. We also know what an outstanding DW/BI solution looks like, and why the actionable information it provides is so invaluable to companies.

Here are 3 major benefits an outstanding Data Warehouse/BI solution should bring to your business.

 

1. Empower your organization to make smart business decisions

Business intelligence is about turning your company’s data into information that can be used to make impactful business decisions in a timely manner. This is achieved by creating a repeatable process that acquires data from all necessary data sources, efficiently stores the data, and then transforms it (using well-thought-out logic) into actionable information.

The definition of business intelligence
 

Here’s an example to help illustrate.

We recently implemented a business intelligence solution for a Fortune 500 tech company to effectively analyze and report on their customer retention efforts. Today, this solution is used daily to help the company strengthen their customer retention methods by saving as much revenue as possible.

To strengthen their retention methods, we needed to determine the characteristics of the customers who were more likely to be retained by an offer. By reviewing and analyzing historical data of customers previously accepting a retention offer, specific customer characteristics were discovered. These customer characteristics (data) were then transformed into a targeted customer profile (information). The company used this profile to proactively reach out to the customers who fit the profile with a retention offer months prior to their current expiration date. The customer profile not only resulted in reduced churn but also provided a more focused and more successful retention program that translated into more revenue for the Fortune 500 company.

 

2. Produce a holistic view of your organization

A second benefit a successful DW/BI solution should bring to your organization is the provision of a holistic view of your business. By a holistic view, we mean that the DW incorporates data from all parts of your company along with any meaningful data from outside sources necessary to make your business information complete.

This is advantageous because it can explain changes in your business that may otherwise not be readily apparent. For instance, let’s say you’re a retailer and you realize that sales are very low for a particular store. How will you reach the accurate conclusion that the poor sales are caused by flooding in the area that lead to that store closing for a few days? Are you able to take this into account for sales forecasting for that store for next year? Without having this additional information, decision making is limited.

While very advantageous, gaining a holistic view of your organization can be a complex process. Data must be sourced from multiple functional areas from within your organization, as well as sourced from outside your organization (e.g. weather conditions, stock prices, etc.). Furthermore, a critical success factor for a holistic approach is creating a roadmap that guides the implementation. In conjunction with the roadmap, there must be a thoughtful plan for taxonomy of the data and conformed dimensional data management. Doing so will help ensure that your solution will be adaptive (and not disruptive) throughout the process of acquiring and incorporating additional data domains.

A holistic approach to business intelligence
 

It’s also important to note that a key architectural component to the success of the holistic approach comes through the effective use of data staging and/or leveraging a data lake architecture. This repository of raw source data empowers your solution to effectively manage the changing needs (for varying levels) of data granularity across different data domains. Additionally, it provides the underpinnings for an architecture that ensures flexibility and scalability in your solution.

 

3. Provide a trusted source for all organizational reporting

The third benefit of an outstanding DW/BI solution might be the most important of all and often the most difficult to attain. Operating with a DW/BI solution that is seen as the source of truth for reporting in your organization is the mark of a very successful implementation. Having confidence that the information you use is accurate and reliable is invaluable because while it takes a multitude of sound decisions to be successful, one bad decision can be disastrous. If you’re asking yourself, “are the people at every level of my organization making sound-information-based-decisions? then it’s possible your DW/BI solution is not a trusted source.

The start and the end of the DW/BI solution trust cycle begins with the stakeholders within an organization. Getting stakeholders to agree on correct business processes and calculations of needed metrics is key. This work is done in the initial stages of the implementation to build trust from the entire organization that the DW/BI information is accurate. Once the organization gains confidence in the source of information coming from the new DW/BI solution, the velocity for which information can be disseminated and leveraged throughout the organization increases exponentially.

The technical process of successfully bringing together data from all parts of your organization is tough enough but oftentimes the more difficult work is getting a majority of an organization’s buy-in on the calculations of key reporting metrics. This legwork, if done well, produces trust from the entire organization. The implementation will be more effective and helps prevent reporting competition that can easily dissolve any trust in the DW/BI solution.

One should know that a solid technical implementation of the DW/BI solution provides the substance of the trust cycle. If the solution does not live up to its promise of providing accurate and timely information, then all trust is gone – and hard to build up again.  The trust of the information is gained by a technical implementation that time and time again proves that all data movement, data cleansing, data quality, and data preparation are consistently complete and accurate in providing the latest information to end users.

 

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Key2 Consulting is a data warehousing and business intelligence company located in Atlanta, Georgia. We create and deliver custom data warehouse solutions, business intelligence solutions, and custom applications. 

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