Data warehouse and Business Intelligence

Data warehouse and Business Intelligence – Do Both Technologies Complement One Another?

If technicalities were to be put aside and the subject matter of this article was put in layman’s term, it would be “can the cookie cutter exist without the dough?” In this scenario, business intelligence would be the cookie cutter and data warehouse  the dough. The two can certainly exist independently but wouldn’t be of much use to anybody.

Think of it this way, companies have a lot of information in raw, unrefined form in the data warehouse but to make that information useful and relevant, companies require a set of tools that can help them analyze data. Business intelligence provides those tools and strategies that can help businesses make sense of data. Therefore, both these technologies are used simultaneously by organizations to enhance revenue and make informed decisions.

The tech world has its anecdotes about this relationship where data warehouse is called the plumbing or engine behind business intelligence. Without a proper data warehouse, where all the data is first standardized for consumption, the end user is highly likely to add redundant, incoherent, and irrelevant data. Such data can create performance bottlenecks jeopardizing the integrity of the data stream and hindering the crucial and timely decision-making process.

Without business intelligence tools, tracking the ever-tumultuous business trends and adapting quickly to environmental change will be impossible. These tools improve tactical,strategic management processes at all levels and the organization’s hierarchy. They shield the business from ‘information overload’ and provide a path to deeper understanding and intelligence from the organizational data. Time for another layman example! Consider the data warehouse as a gold mine. Business intelligence will, therefore, be the mining equipment that extracts the gold,transforms it from mere nuggets into bullions.

Near Future Viability of Business Intelligence and Data Warehouse

There are proponents which postulate that with the progression of time and rapid innovations occurring in the world of technology, this symbiotic relationship is likely to lose traction. The idea of BI (business intelligence) without DW (data warehouse) is cited as an example. The rationale behind this approach dictates that today’s modern, BI tools like OLAP and report writers have matured enough to provide near-real-time access to operational source data. For standardization, a series of data silos can be built which will assist in generating a new set of reporting requirements. Also, benefits like lower infrastructure cost, speedier development, and real-time monitoring can be attained if data warehouse is omitted from the equation. This inference has a generic flaw though! This entire architecture can be categorized as haphazard at best. It will limit the business’s visibility of the data required to function and expand. As for saving infrastructure cost, erecting arbitrary data silos, and cost of constantly maintaining them far exceeds that of a data warehouse.

The Data Lake Phenomenon

Another contending force threatening to tear the fabric of BI and DW symmetry is the rise of data lake phenomenon. Does this unequivocally mean that business intelligence and data warehousing will not remain synonymous anymore? Data Lake entails a heterogeneous assortment of data stored inits native format. It is a supremely powerful tool for analytics and data scientists, essentially for people who want to delve into raw data and derive their insights from it. But every business cannot afford to employ a data scientist. Some people require data in a pre-aggregated, predefined, and standardized form -data which is ready to be consumed. For such people, the data warehouse and its conveniences will always be required. 

From the viability of business intelligence and data warehouse to the data lake phenomenon, it seems like data warehouse is the technology always on the brink of becoming obsolete and redundant. Whereas business intelligence is holding its own against the onslaught of time and evolution. However, such is not the case. Business intelligence has had its fair share of threats (for lack of a better word). According to a report,“democratization of analytics has radically altered the paradigm of BI delivery. Users now prototype data models and test new data sources in the context of existing data structures without needing IT staff.”

So does this mean the future of BI is bleak? No! It means BI is evolving, it’s undergoing rapid changes but will remain invaluable for organizations for a couple of reasons:

  1. Where there’s business, there’s a plethora of data, new and old. BI reports will always be required to deliver actionable and valuable insights into whether further analysis is necessary or not.
  2. Content creation has shifted from being purely IT-centric to business-centric, but the key to success will always remain assimilation of reports and dashboards into one single interface which can broadly be consumed by the end user. BI, therefore, will remain indispensable.

If you are looking to incorporate your BI and data warehouse, get in touch with our data architects to ensure that you get the best value out of your investment.

Astera Centerprise