Prakash Yadav is a business intelligence developer with 12 years of IT experience. His experience spans over various BI technologies and domains. He has experience working with one of the largest data warehouses in the world. He is currently working as a data warehouse developer in Ko Awatea’s Health Intelligence and Informatics team. He holds a master’s degree in IT from Kuvempu University, India.
For a business to be successful, its leaders must make good management and operational decisions. Making good decisions requires leaders to take all relevant organisation-wide data into consideration. The best source for that data is a well-designed data warehouse.
A data warehouse is a centralised store of data from the transactional and operational systems used by the various departments of an organisation to process their day-to-day activities. In healthcare, transactional and operational systems may include patient information management systems, electronic medical records, and systems that specialist services such as radiology, lab and pharmacy use to update their data. Whereas a data warehouse is specially designed for data analysis, reports and for ad-hoc queries. Data from operational systems are loaded into the data warehouse regularly. Once loaded, the data are cleaned, formatted, updated, reorganised, aggregated, and referenced. In this way, a data warehouse provides support for decision-making by integrating data from various heterogeneous systems and transforming that data into knowledge.
Benefits of a data warehouse
Once a data warehouse is in place and populated with data, it becomes part of a business intelligence solution that delivers benefit to business users in many ways:
Data integration – Normally, organisations use various operational systems to run business processes. In order to integrate data from various operational systems, data are extracted and loaded into the data warehouse at regular intervals and integrated according to specified integration and validation rules, thus creating a single version of truth for organisation-wide data.
Quick access to data – A data warehouse provides a centralised location to store organisation-wide transactional data. This means that organisation-wide data is readily available for business users to analyse quickly, which helps to make business decisions faster and more accurate.
Historical data – A data warehouse holds historical data that help with forecasting and decision-making.
Data quality and consistency – Since a data warehouse extracts data from various operational sources and brings it together through the organisation’s integration rule, the data is in line and consistent. When data is standardised and accurate, it provides a pillar for strong business decisions.
Standard KPI and dashboard – KPIs help to measure how well an organisation, projects or individuals are performing in comparison to their objectives and goals. A data warehouse provides an integrated platform for defining KPIs and analysing performance over time through an analytical dashboard.
Ad-hoc reporting and slice-and-dice capability support – The data in a data warehouse is primarily stored in star schema format, which is perfect for doing ad-hoc reporting and analysis. Business users can quickly create reports, analyse data and slice-and-dice data (cut a large segment of data into smaller parts to obtain the right level of detail for analysis) with the help of analysis tools sitting on top of the data warehouse, which is not possible in transactional or operational systems.
Manage risk – Data warehouses and data mining are powerful tools for risk analysis and compliance. Information gathered from various data sources can be used to analyse suspected activities to find fraudulent patterns. A fraudulent pattern is a series of activity which is not normal and may indicate, for example, false insurance claims or tax fraud.
Better decision-making – The last, but most important, benefit of having a data warehouse is better decision-making. Good decision-making is only possible when decision makers have integrated, good quality data at their disposal. A data warehouse reduces the time the decision-making process takes and helps leaders to make better decisions based on facts and organisational trends.
For these reasons, the data warehouse is an essential part of the IT portfolio of an organisation.
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