With so much data available for businesses to compile and review, it can be difficult to keep valuable digital information organized for easy retrieval. To aid in this endeavor, organizations often turn to data warehouses. A data warehouse functions as a large virtual storage space for digital information—in essence, a massive database. But beyond simple data storage, data warehouses are designed to be able to actively filter, analyze, and retrieve massive amounts of data, making data warehouses a necessity for organizations interested in performing almost any form of business analytics. And, given that about 89% of American businesses are investing in data and data analytics, the need for effective, efficient, and accessible data warehouses is increasing, and with that increase, businesses are finding themselves in equally desperate need of superior data warehouse software.
Data warehouse software is designed to act as a go-between for organizations attempting to access or operate their data warehouses. In essence, the primary function of data warehouse software is usability. With the right data warehouse software, organizations can use captured data to spot emerging trends, better understand target customers and demographics, and inform important business decisions. When data warehouse software fails in the area of usability, then it hardly matters how much quality data has been captured in the first place. Of course, usability is something of an umbrella term, featuring many different aspects that need to be considered in order to achieve effectiveness. And, with data-related problems costing the majority of companies more than $5 million every year, andmany organizations losing as much as 25% of their potential revenue as a result of badly-used data, the importance of effective data warehouse software programs is one that simply cannot be overlooked. But what is it that makes a data warehouse software solution effective?
Although there are many forms of data warehouse software available, the most effective solutions share certain commonalities:
- Software should feature the right tools.
Although different organizations will likely have different specific needs, most businesses will benefit from data warehouse software that features a core tool set, namely a database, data extraction (ETL), and business intelligence (BI). Other tools such as data modeling and data cleansing may also be beneficial.
- Should be easy to integrate.
As data warehouse software is designed to work as an intermediary between a data warehouse and a business, it is especially important that the software be easy to integrate into existing systems. Easy integration will not only allow for higher-quality solutions, but will also ensure higher adoption rates among users.
- Have flexibility and adaptability.
Every organization is unique, and has unique needs. An effective data warehouse software solution should be able to adapt to those needs, rather than force the organization to adapt to it. Additionally, in business, organizations themselves must be able to adapt to unforeseen changes in the market; if a data warehouse software solution is not flexible enough to adapt along with the business, then it will likely slow down the entire process, potentially costing the business valuable time, effort, and money.
- With an option to be scalable.
As organizations grow, the need for a data warehouse software solution does not diminish, it increases. As such, the software solution should be scalable, in order to remain effective.
- The data warehouse software should be fast.
One of the key advantages of real-time business analytics is that the information being reviewed and employed is completely current. Data warehouse software needs to be able to analyze and retrieve information as quickly as possible, otherwise, the advantage of having up-to-the-minute accuracy in data is negated.
- Able to handle the right amount of data.
Not every organization needs to be able to organize and analyze petabytes of data, but there are those that do. The right data warehouse software solution should be able to function properly in the correct data range for whichever organization adopts it.
- Create easily-accessible reports and visuals.
Simply being able to analyze data is not enough if leaders and other decision makers are unable to grasp the takeaways that analysis produces. Clear, attractive reports that highlight important data and help users understand that data and any important conclusions help bring information directly to those who are empowered to use it. Simple, digestible visuals (such as live dashboards) perform a similar function.
- Should have the ability to be in the cloud.
While a cloud based option may not be required by everyone, having the option of choosing between a cloud based or on-premise system, will allow you the flexibility to find the best solution for you. Consider the pros and cons of each before deciding. Consider the resources each would need, technical maintenance, and overall support required.
As stated before, usability is the primary factor in determining how effective a particular data warehouse software solution may be. Some software providers organizations with free trials of their software, so that decision makers can get a feel for how usable the solution is before they commit. Additionally, online reviews and other research can help organizations find the software solution that is right for their needs. And, with as much data as is now available to businesses to analyze through the use of data warehouses, finding the right data warehouse software may be the key to finding business success.