Businesses realize that in this very competitive, fast-paced, and always changing business environment the only thing that will help them gain a competitive advantage over their competitors is how quickly they respond and adapt to change. A data warehouse enables them to take the critical step toward leveraging information gathered to proactively respond to changes.
Data Warehousing enables organizations to make well informed business decisions and thus can be the source of competitive advantages. This is especially true when the business is able to extrapolate information from indicators in the external environment and make accurate forecasts about future trends or economic conditions. Once customer and organizational data is gathered and stored in a single place, tools and appliances; such as, Business Intelligence, can begin providing a competitive advantage.
The ultimate objective of a data warehouse is to improve the timeliness, usability and quality of information. Timely and good quality information is the foundation for all of the tools and analytics that can give an indication of the best course to take. Only a data warehouse provides the foundation for effectively leveraging any volume of data:
Information is regarded as the most important resource a company has, second only to human resources. You can hire top notch people to understand customers and make decisions, but their effectiveness is limited by the nature of the information available to them. One way to illustrate the value of data that is brought together into a single place like a data warehouse is to think about one of the most precious gems on earth – the diamond. Your data is like a lot of little diamonds in a mine. But what has more value, ten individual one-carat diamonds or one 10-CT weight stone? The value of information when housed in a data warehouse compounds like that of a large precious stone, having much more value than the small disparate nuggets that lie around the company.
Business intelligence (BI) is defined as the process that converts data into information, and information into knowledge that drives profitable actions. BI tools are used to analyze data, increase efficiency by driving daily operations, and to help discover previously unknown opportunities. BI tools can be implemented without a data warehouse in place; however, some loss in information quality and capability will result without having a data source that represents the single version of the truth.
Empowering people with BI tools allows them to make decisions faster, better understand the customer, and help execute company strategy in unison. BI tools are versatile and bring value to virtually every subject area of a company. Some specific capabilities include the following:
Business Intelligence, the ultimate outcome of a data warehouse, provides these and other benefits to companies utilizing it to monitor their business information. BI eliminates guesswork within an organization, enhances communication among departments, and enables companies to respond quickly to changes in customer preferences, supply chain operations, and market conditions. What makes BI tools unique is that they provide actionable information, and easy to use information empowers employees at all levels to achieve the best results possible.
Finally, BI tools can tie a company together when properly implemented. The strategy management adopts can be executed at all levels of the organization. Actual performance can be compared to the goal, with drill down capabilities to reveal the detail that helps explain variances and issues. The sharing of information made possible by BI tools provides a unique competitive advantage in the marketplace.
The objective of the Business Discovery Phase is to provide a high level overview of the organization's business challenges, strategic initiatives and drivers in order to gain an understanding of what the business is and how can it be improved. Specifically, the Business Discovery Phase outlines and produces a high-level view of the organization's goals, objectives, critical success factors, and key performance measurements.
Using those deliverables (e.g. high-level strategic vision, priorities and metrics), the business opportunities and focus areas for the initial data warehouse project can be identified. The Focus Areas will pre-determine a set of business metrics, high-Level business processes, architectual requirements, atomic and analytical subject areas; thereby, placing a frame around the business scope of the initial data warehouse project.
Lastly, the solution focus and alternatives are discussed and developed. The Business Discovery Phase concludes with a set of recommendations outlining the implementation plan and costs for all of the focus areas studied. The recommendations are presented to management along with a value statement for their approval.