In my recent interactions with IT practitioners and leaders either on the software vendor side or on the business side, a common question keeps coming up. With the rise of Big Data, are data warehouse initiatives dead? My answer to them is a resounding NO. To clear this notion, let us discuss the commonalities which create this confusion:
- Both hold lots of data
- Both can be used for analytics and reporting
- Both are huge efforts (commonly) initiated by IT and then later owned by business when they see business benefits
- In both cases, the investment is largely Opex than Capex funding (which is not necessarily bad for business)
- Both investments command a strategic discussion for the office of CIOs
So then what is the purpose of a data warehouse? Let us look at Bill Inmon’s definition:
The Future of Big Data
With some guidance, you can craft a data platform that is right for your organization’s needs and gets the most return from your data capital.
A data warehouse is a subject-oriented, nonvolatile, integrated, time variant collection of data created for the purpose of management’s decision making. Another way of saying the same thing is that a data warehouse provides a “single version of the truth” for decision making in the corporation.
A good Big Data solution is capable of holding large amounts of disparate data in inexpensive storage devices (cloud or on prem) in an unstructured format. If unlocked correctly, it can create valuable, strategic information for business growth. Data warehouses are more reliable, available, and accessible to organizational analysts. There are software vendors who are now providing cloud data warehousing which combines Big Data capabilities with traditional data warehouse readability and governance. My previous article outlines the details here.
A lot of our clients are currently on their journey building Big Data capabilities which may act as “sources” for data warehouses. If the architecture is well thought and guided by business benefits, this can be a powerful combination creating new business models (commonly called uberizing the business). In addition, this can create new customer interaction opportunities and reshape your sales and marketing.