Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing Meet: Magic Ensues

Humans are visually motivated. When we see a movie, we’re drawn to the most beautiful and exotic settings, the most striking and recognizable actors, the biggest explosions. What we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about is the work that happens in the background to create the visual feast of a modern movie.

The same thing happens in the data analysis world. There are some amazing BI options on the market—Looker,, and Tableau, among others. Their products turn analysts into heroes, producing evocative visualizations that bring data stories to life in ways basic tables and spreadsheets simply can’t. But just like in the movies, it’s what happens behind the scenes that makes their magic possible.

Visualizations matter, because not everyone who consumes data is adept at analyzing it. These shareholders’ needs vary—from the big picture to the microcosm, the theoretical to the technical. Getting the right information for all parties is largely a function to pairing the right data storage backend to the best visualization front end.

Amazing data viz starts in the data warehouse

Yep, just like the most amazing movies start on a soundstage somewhere, or in a studio on a back lot, the best data visualizations start with a good data warehouse. Business intelligence and data warehousing go hand in hand, with good storage providing the basis impressive and informative visualizations. Without a data warehouse to store information from a multitude of diverse data sources, the visualizations created by BI programs would be flatter and more two dimensional.

Unlike databases, which typically only contain data from a single application or program or a group of related programs within a platform, data warehouses are origin-agnostic. They take data from all sourcesoperational systems, ERMs, CRMs, social media insights, etc.and the store it together, waiting for a query from an end user to pull it all back out and arrange it. The diversity of these data sources creates the basis for the rich, illustrative, informative data stories we all love pulling from our BI tools.

Good data stories, like good movies, need narratives that can resonate with differing audiences. Because the source data from a data warehouse isn’t siloed like a database, it provides a depth of material that’s relevant and pertinent to a host of decision makers and stakeholders across an organization.

For example, a company that makes widgets has a social media manager who wants to know what’s trending on Twitter about their product. The same information matters—for different reasons—to the operations team and the marketing department.

While the social media manager wants to keep engaging the community, the operations team wants to ensure there’s product available for consumers to buy, and the marketing team wants to know how and where they’re buying it. Differing motivations, and differing data sets, all pulled together with business intelligence and data warehousing.

The best data warehousing options make visualizations render quickly and efficient, maximizing the capabilities of the BI tools they support. 

Hollywood blockbusters are all about the big picture, and so are the visualizations created by business intelligence tools. But the stuff that happens behind the scenes with a smart, adaptive data warehouse? That’s where the real magic happens. 

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