Where there's OLTP, can OLAP be far behind? It shouldn't be. In fact, the latest
generation of multidimensional analytical software is a great reason to revisit
our database and data-warehouse clients. Here's why and how.
Glossary of DataWarehousing and OLAP Terminology
- data cube -- A data cube is a small, multidimensional data warehouse that
is built into an analysis tool.
- data mining -- Data mining is the running of automated routines that search
through data organized in a warehouse. They look for patterns in order to
point you to areas that you should be addressing.
- data mart -- A small, departmental data warehouse.
- data warehouse -- A data set and routines to retrieve data. A data warehouse
is optimized so that complex, multi-faceted information can be retrieved much
more quickly than relational databases allow.
- multidimensional thinking --"Until recently, most managers believed that
the more information they had, the better the decisions they could make no
matter what that information was. But because some business activities have
a disproportionate impact on the company's financial statements, it follows
that some chunks of information are significantly more important as well.
We call these chunks of information sweet spots." Paul Hill, Cognos vice president,
Strategic Partners and Marketing Programs Managers discover business trends
and anomalies by studying various combinations and permutations of the information
available. Sales per quarter by salesperson. Costs per product line by region.
Units shipped on time per city per warehouse by air. This is what is meant
by "multidimensional thinking." And depending on the number of customers,
products, regions, and other dimensions, managers can easily end up with hundreds
of thousands of different combinations of results to explore. What's the best
way to get customers to buy these new fangled tools? Teach em where and when
to use them. Cognos publishes a series of books, CDs and training courses
called the "The Multidimensional Manager". "Education has proved to be the
best lead generator possible" Paul Hill told us. "The book contains vital
insights into how business works, how information drives business, and how
decision makers can master information to become multidimensional managers.
A multidimensional manager is one who develops X-ray vision into all the factors
driving costs and profitability, and who has superior ROI characteristics
compared to traditional managers." Those interested in the book or CD can
order it through Cognos's web page.
- OLAP (On-Line Analytical Processing) -- Tools that extract data from data
warehouses go by a variety of names: OLAP, ROLAP (Relational On-Line Analytical
Processing), multi-dimensional analysis tools, and decision support systems
being the most common ones. All provide the ability to do rapid analysis of
multiple simultaneous factors, something that relational databases can't do.