Chances are, if you're reading this article, you're thinking about investing in a data warehouse.
If you are on the fence, you should read this, and if you are still not convinced you should read this. And if that isn’t enough pasta for you, here are 7 (and a half) more reasons launching a data warehouse is more than worth it.
1. A Data Warehouse is the “single source of the truth”.
- Excel and other reporting files can quickly proliferate and scatter data.
- When key measures, such as "gross profit", live in the data warehouse, everyone's numbers will match. If, however, you calculate "gross profit" with each new report, you'll end up with alternative facts.
2. A Data Warehouse maintains historical accuracy and historical context.
- A properly designed data warehouse is "aware" of time, meaning users not only can see how current the data is, past data maintains its historical context.
- Consider this scenario: You have 2 teams of salespeople. One team is outperforming the other, so you mix the teams up in hopes of bringing new mojo to the weaker salespeople. When you look at your report for the previous week, it SHOULD reflect the sales figures for the teams as they were arranged at that time.
- A system that doesn’t maintain historical context will instead suggest that the teams were performing more evenly in that previous week, because the system is only aware of its current context.
3. A Data Warehouse can efficiently manage massive quantities of data.
- By comparison, Excel holds smaller quantities, less efficiently. Your Cloud services may hold data, but accessing that data can be arduous – many Cloud API’s will throttle your data transfer, or limit your access to their data models, making them poor choices for real-time reporting.
4. A Data Warehouse is fast.
- Desktop reporting tools, like Excel, Power BI Desktop, and R Studio are limited to the power of your typical $500-$1000 business laptop/desktop. Cloud-based data warehouses offer multicore servers with gobs of ram and speedy disk arrays. Let them do the heavy number crunching.
- Here’s why. If a user has to wait 60 seconds for a report to run, and they run that report 10 times a day, over the course of a year they’ll have spent more than 40 hours (an entire work week) just waiting. For an employee making $75k/yr, that’s $1500 in wages waiting for reports to run. How many different employees might be running these reports?
5. A Data Warehouse is secure.
- You control who sees what (and you can use your Active Directory to do it).
- You determine who can modify data and who can only view it.
- You can audit usage. Who accessed what? What data was modified and when? What was the data before it was modified?
6. A Data Warehouse is reliable.
- You can capture your data to any level of granularity to access the why beneath your KPIs.
- In the event of a disaster, you can restore your data to a specific point in time.
- Cloud data warehouses offer redundant infrastructure (e.g., server clustering, Azure regional instances, etc.)
7. Data Warehouses are inexpensive.
- SQL Azure Databases start as low as $5 per month. Tiers in the $75 and $150 range provide more than enough storage and processing power for the average company.
- There are FOSS (free and open-source software) options:
- Database engines like PostGRE, MySQL, MongoDB, MariaDB, etc.
- Reporting tools like Japser, BIRT, D3, OpenOffice, Spago, etc.
- SQL Server Express (it's free and includes SSRS).
And on that note, here is reason 7.5.
Microsoft SQL Server paid editions not only include the database engine, but:
- SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) – an industry-leading ETL tool.
- SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) – a powerful, enterprise-grade reporting tool capable of building pixel-perfect reports and dashboards.
- SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) – a robust analytics and data mining tool capable of dealing with vast quantities of data at a high level of performance. Also, SSAS can be used as a data source by most reporting platforms, including Power BI.
- The industry leading integrated management suite that allows you to develop, monitor, and manage all of the above.
Why does all this matter? In our 20 years of starting, managing, and consulting to businesses, we have found that data analytics and dashboards are the least obtrusive, lowest-overhead, and highest-impact way to transform a business. They're the means to becoming a data-driven business, from the CEO down, driving operational efficiency and profitability.
Read the first two chapters of our book, The Dashboard Effect and let the experts (those with even more name-recognition than Blue Margin) convince you. Send us your comments and we'll send you the whole book, on our dime.
If you are interested in starting a conversation about how to use your data to increase productivity and profits in the next 90-days, then let's talk.
Your Colorado Microbrew Recommendation:
O’Dell Brewing Company – Precision Decision (ABV 6.3%)
Odds are it was reason #7.5 the got you over the hump and convinced you to build a data warehouse. It’s our way of helping you make a "Precision Decision", the name of a favorite pale ale found at one of our favorite breweries, Odell. We are pretty sure you will find our Lead Data Engineer enjoying one of these on any given Friday afternoon. Next time you're in Fort Collins join him for a cold one, and he will give you 6.3 more reasons why a data warehouse is the must-have foundation of any data-driven business.