Strategic Use of Data Warehouses
Data warehousing is proclaimed to be the end-all of data
discovery, but it has missed this goal by a long shot. The promise of
the data warehouse has been diluted mostly because of how the user
community uses the data warehouse.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Data warehouses are not being used to their true
potential. Most companies use data warehousing
for 1) validation, 2) tactical reporting, or 3) exploration.
Validation is the where the user community validates with data what they
already believe to be true. For example, Denver consumers buy products
differently than New York City consumers. New York folks tend to
purchase a candy bar on a whim (city population buying patterns), where
Denver folks are less likely to do so (rural population buying
patterns). This has been hypothesized for years, but empirical data
shows it to be true. According to a study report about 45% of the
usage of the data warehouse is validation.
Tactical reporting is where the user community uses the data for a
tactical reason. For example, salesperson Daffy Duck of Acme Corp. is
going to visit customer Wylie T. Coyote and he wants to know what
customer Wylie T. Coyote bought during the last year. There is no
comparison of customer Wylie T. Coyote and customer Roadrunner to see if
there is anything that might suggest new products to sell. About 40% of the usage of the data warehouse is for tactical reporting.
Exploration is where you search for ideas or knowledge that you did not
know before. This is where data mining techniques (e.g., association,
classification, genetic algorithms) and applications (e.g., market
basket analysis, fraud detection) come into play. Merely only about
15% of the usage of the data warehouse is for exploration.
The potential of the data warehouse comes from exploration. But until the user community can spend less time doing their tactical duties, they will not be able to explore the final frontier.