How to unlock your data warehouse’s big data potential

UK markets, such as the retail and hospitality markets, are highly volatile and highly competitive. Profit margins are always under threat. Anything that can give your business the competitive edge is crucial. Analysing your data for business insight gives organisations that competitive edge.

Businesses now have more data than ever before. They have always had business critical data, but now Big Data brings sensor data, Internet and social media data too. As businesses expand over geographical regions or make acquisitions, company data can end up fragmented and disparate. This makes reporting slow and hinders the ability to get a view of the company as a whole.

> See also: The pitfalls of data storytelling: why you can't always rely on a narrative in analytics

In addition, many businesses are reporting in silos, generating a lot of activity and administration but not yielding any real business results from the data. Collating this disparate data into a data warehouse so it can be analysed is the key to understanding your business.

The science bit

A data warehouse (DW) is where you store data for analysis. Often pooled from a variety of sources, the data stored in a DW is stored in a way to make deep anaylsis possible.

Data analysis will give your business the intelligence it needs to make quicker, more accurate business decisions and ultimately drive profitability. Whatever business you run, you can’t afford to ignore the opportunities hiding in your data.

Analysis of customer data can guide your business strategy so that you offer customers what they need and want. By analysing customer data you can tailor products to the right specification, at the right time thereby improving customer relations and ultimately increasing customer retention. But, this is only part of the picture.

The best intelligence will come from an analysis of all the data the company has. A lack of cross-pollination across the business can lead to missed opportunities and a limited corporate view.

In retail, for example, the accurate and timely reporting of sales, inventory, discounts and profit is critical to getting a consolidated view of the business at all levels and at all locations.

In addition, analysing customer data can inform businesses which promotions work, which products sell, which locations work best, what loyalty vouchers and schemes are working, and which are not. Knowing customer demographics can help retailers to cross or upsell items.

It used to be that data provisioning was expensive and slow. But, that was before automation. Things have moved on since the days of the traditional data warehouses and now the design and build of a data warehouse is automated, optimised and wizard driven. It means that data is available at the push of a button.

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You don’t have to be an IT expert to create reports, you don’t need to ask head office if you want information on a particular product line. Even more importantly, when you automate the data warehouse lifecycle you make it agile, so as your business grows and changes the warehouse can adapt.

As every business knows, it’s a false economy to invest in a short-term solution, which in a few years, will not be fit for purpose. It’s no good paying for excellent business intelligence tools and fancy reporting dashboards if the data underneath is not fully accessible, accurate and flexible.

Data analysis gives you crucial knowledge and insight about your business, your product and your customers' knowledge that can impact your bottom line. It’s not just about the data or the business intelligence tools; it’s about where that data is stored that allows it to become useful and valuable to your business.

Sourced from Miriam Cook, GM, WhereScape UK and Ireland

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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